Advantages of Spray Foam Insulation in New Homes - featured image

Are you building a new home and considering which insulation to use? With so many options, it can be overwhelming to make a decision. However, one type of insulation that is gaining popularity is spray foam insulation.

Let’s take a look at why using spray foam insulation in new homes has become one of our most popular options here at Lakeshore Custom Homes!

Traditionally, fiberglass batts or blown-in cellulose have been the go-to insulation choices for homes. However, spray foam insulation offers many advantages that make it an attractive option for new home construction.

Spray foam insulation can provide superior insulation, air sealing, and moisture control, and reduced energy consumption compared to traditional insulation methods.

What is Spray Foam Insulation?

Spray foam insulation is a two-component material that expands and hardens upon application, creating an insulating and air-sealing barrier. This foam sticks to surfaces, fills gaps and provides a barrier that helps keep heat inside during cold weather and outside during hot weather, making the building more energy efficient.

Two spray foam insulation types exist:

  1. Open-cell spray foam: This type of foam has a lower density and expands more upon application. The resulting foam structure has interconnected cells, which allows for some air and moisture permeability. Open-cell spray foam has a lower R-value per inch (typically around 3.5 to 4 per inch) than closed-cell foam, but it can still provide adequate insulation and soundproofing. It is generally more affordable than closed-cell foam.
  2. Closed-cell spray foam: With a higher density and more compact cell structure, closed-cell foam forms a rigid, impermeable barrier that resists moisture and air infiltration. In addition, it has a higher R-value per inch (typically around 6 to 7 per inch), making it a more effective insulator. The closed-cell foam adds structural strength to the building and is more water damage-resistant. However, closed-cell spray foam is usually more expensive than open-cell foam.

Spray foam insulation is applied using specialized equipment that mixes and sprays the two liquid components onto the surface to be insulated, such as walls, ceilings, or floors. The foam expands to fill gaps, cracks, and crevices, conforming to the shape of the cavity and forming a continuous, airtight insulation layer.

 What Are the Benefits of Spray Foam Insulation?

Using foam insulation when building a house in Northern Michigan offers several advantages due to the region’s cold climate and unique environmental conditions. Some of the main benefits include:

  • High R-value: Foam insulation provides a high R-value per inch, which measures the material’s resistance to heat flow. This means better thermal performance, ideal for insulating houses in cold climates.
  • Air sealing: Foam insulation, especially spray foam, can fill gaps and cracks, forming an air barrier. This reduces drafts and air infiltration, increasing the home’s energy efficiency and comfort.
  • Moisture resistance: Closed-cell foam insulation can resist moisture, potentially preventing mold and mildew growth, particularly in areas with high humidity or water exposure.
  • Structural strength: Closed-cell spray foam can add structural strength to walls and roofs, increasing the overall stability and durability of the building.
  • Pest resistance: Foam insulation is less attractive to pests such as rodents and insects than other insulation materials, reducing the likelihood of infestations.
  • Soundproofing: Foam insulation offers better soundproofing than other insulation materials, helping to reduce noise transmission between rooms and from outside the house.
  • Ease of installation: Spray foam insulation can be easily applied to difficult-to-reach areas, such as around electrical outlets, plumbing, and irregularly shaped spaces, ensuring complete coverage and improved insulation performance. This reduces the time and effort needed during the installation process, saving labor costs, and minimizing disruptions to the construction timeline.
  • Longevity and durability: Foam insulation has a long lifespan and maintains its performance characteristics over time, reducing the need for replacement or maintenance.
  • Energy savings and lower energy bills: The enhanced insulation performance of foam materials can lead to significant energy savings, reducing heating and cooling costs for homeowners in Northern Michigan’s cold climate.
  • Environmentally friendly: Some foam insulation products are made from renewable or recycled materials, reducing the environmental impact of the insulation. Additionally, energy savings from using foam insulation contribute to reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Overall, using foam insulation when building a house in Northern Michigan can provide numerous benefits regarding energy efficiency, comfort, durability, and environmental impact. These advantages make foam insulation popular for homeowners and builders in cold climates.

 Frequently Asked Questions

What are the differences between open-cell and closed-cell spray foam insulation?

Open-cell foam has a lower density, lower R-value per inch (around 3.5 to 4) and is more permeable to air and moisture. As a result, it is generally more affordable than closed-cell foam. On the other hand, closed-cell foam has a higher density and R-value per inch (around 6 to 7) and forms a rigid, impermeable barrier that resists moisture and air infiltration. It also adds structural strength to the building.

How much does spray foam insulation cost?

The cost of spray foam insulation is determined by various factors, including the type of material used (open-cell or closed-cell), labor costs, and the size and complexity of the project. On average, open-cell foam costs between $0.35 to $0.55 per board foot, while closed-cell foam costs between $1.00 to $1.50 per board foot.
Please note that pricing is subject to change, and the size and scope of the project can influence the final price.

What is the R-value of spray foam insulation?

The R-value of open-cell spray foam is typically around 3.5 to 4 per inch, while the R-value of closed-cell spray foam is around 6 to 7 per inch. The R-value measures the material’s resistance to heat flow, with higher R-values providing better insulation performance.

Is spray foam insulation safe for my home and the environment?

Spray foam insulation is generally considered safe when installed correctly by professionals. However, it can release chemicals during installation and curing, so proper ventilation and safety precautions are crucial. In addition, some spray foam products are made from renewable or recycled materials, making them more environmentally friendly. In contrast, the energy savings associated with foam insulation can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

How long does spray foam insulation last?

Spray foam insulation has a long lifespan and can maintain its performance characteristics for decades. In addition, it is resistant to degradation and settling, which makes it a durable insulation solution.

Does spray foam insulation provide soundproofing benefits?

Yes, spray foam insulation benefits soundproofing by reducing noise transmission between rooms and outside the house. Open-cell foam is particularly effective at absorbing and dampening sound due to its less dense and more porous structure.

How does spray foam insulation affect indoor air quality?

During installation and curing, spray foam insulation can release chemicals and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that can affect indoor air quality. Therefore, proper ventilation and safety precautions during installation are essential. However, once cured, spray foam insulation typically does not emit significant VOCs or contribute to poor indoor air quality. Since the insulation is applied early in the initial construction timeline, this is rarely a concern for the homeowner when the house is completed.

What are the energy savings associated with spray foam insulation?

Spray foam insulation can yield significant energy savings due to its high R-value, air-sealing properties, and moisture resistance. Of course, the energy savings will depend on the home’s design, local climate, and occupant behavior, but homeowners can expect reduced heating and cooling costs.

Can spray foam insulation be applied to any surface or area in my home?

Spray foam insulation can be applied to various surfaces and areas, including walls, ceilings, floors, attics, and crawl spaces. It is instrumental in hard-to-reach or irregularly shaped spaces where traditional insulation materials may not provide complete coverage.

Can spray foam insulation cause damage to my home or its structural components?

When installed correctly, spray foam insulation should not cause damage to your home or its structural components. However, improper installation or using the wrong type of foam for a specific application can result in issues such as trapped moisture, mold growth, or structural damage. Therefore, working with a professional installer must ensure the correct foam type and proper installation techniques are followed.

Which is the correct type of spray foam insulation for my project?

Consider factors such as the desired R-value, moisture resistance, structural reinforcement, and budget when choosing the right type of spray foam insulation. Consulting with a professional installer or energy auditor can help you make an informed decision based on your specific needs and home characteristics.

What other insulation options are there besides spray foam?

There are several alternatives to spray foam insulation, each with its advantages and disadvantages. Some popular options include:

  • Fiberglass batts: These pre-cut sections of insulation made from fine glass fibers are popular due to their affordability and ease of installation, though they may not provide the same air sealing as spray foam.
  • Mineral wool: Also known as rock wool or slag wool, mineral wool is made from rock, slag, or recycled materials. It offers excellent fire resistance and soundproofing properties but can be more expensive than fiberglass.
  • Cellulose: Made from recycled paper products, cellulose insulation, is an eco-friendly option. It can be blown in or installed as dense-packed cellulose, providing good thermal performance and soundproofing. However, it may settle over time, reducing its effectiveness.
  • Rigid foam board: Rigid foam insulation, made from various types of plastic, is available in different thicknesses. It has a higher R-value per inch than fiberglass or cellulose and is often used in exterior applications or new construction.

Deciding On What Type of Insulation to Use

When choosing an insulation material, consider factors such as R-value, moisture resistance, air sealing capabilities, environmental impact, fire resistance, soundproofing properties, and cost. The right insulation for your new home will depend on your specific needs and budget.

In conclusion, spray foam insulation is a great choice for building energy-efficient homes as it provides a high R-value, air-sealing properties, and moisture resistance.


Please view our portfolio to see examples of some of the finest homes in Northern Michigan.

Are you ready to make your dream home a reality?
Contact us today
to make an appointment to discuss your home-building plans. We’ll be with you every step of the way to guide you to the perfect home.

Building an Energy Efficient Custom Home - featured image

(Updated 12/15/22)

When planning your Northern Michigan custom home, energy efficiency is a special consideration, especially with the harsh winters we often experience.

One of the best things about building a new custom home is that it lets you get things right from the start. The planning stage is the perfect opportunity to make sure all the things you wish were different in your current home are done right when planning and building your new home. When building an energy-efficient custom home, we consider various factors determining efficiency.

Home Layout and the Sun

When designing your home, keep in mind how the sun will track across the property throughout the day and each season. Will windows receive adequate light or too much? How will this affect your heating and cooling? Will you need additional daytime interior lighting to be comfortable? Will you use solar panels, and will they have adequate direct sunshine?

Trees and landscaping can help or hinder. Shade is welcome, but trees can sometimes block sunlight where you would otherwise want it. Will you need to plant, trim, or remove trees?


Insulation serves two purposes; It retains heat during the winter and keeps heat out in summer. As a result, insulation is one of the most cost-effective ways to improve your home’s energy performance. And, of course, it is always easier and less expensive to add insulation during the construction process rather than later.

While many brands and types of insulation are available, the most critical factor is their proper use and installation based on your actual blueprint and design. We discuss this with each prospective customer to offer the absolute best outcome.

Regardless of the insulation type, Lakeshore Custom Homes always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and instructions to ensure the best performance and longevity.

Sealing and Caulking

We pay special attention to sealing places that can allow air to enter or exit the home. These places can also allow moisture in as well. Typically, these locations are windows and doors, and where exhaust fans, dryer vents, plumbing, electrical outlets, and utilities penetrate through exterior walls or roofing.

We apply the appropriate caulk or sealant depending on the location, the materials to be sealed, and any additional flashings or fittings.

We are incredibly attentive to sealing and insulating where the sill plate, band board, and floor joists meet. These can lead to energy losses if not tended to properly.

Windows and Doors

Energy-efficient windows and proper installation, sealing, and insulation can significantly impact your energy efficiency.

We recommend ENERGY STAR® rated windows from Andersen, Marvin, Simonton, and Windsor. Each company offers a wide variety of styles and finishes and has warranties that back up their quality.

Window treatments, curtains, and blinds also influence your windows’ overall energy efficiency.

Also, see our in-depth article Choosing Windows For Your Custom Home.

Heating and Cooling

Now that your future home will be well insulated and properly sealed, an energy-efficient heating and cooling system will perform even better. Properly sizing the heating and cooling system to match the size of your home is important. This allows the system to operate efficiently and to be the most cost-effective.


One area that is frequently overlooked is ductwork. Part of doing it right from the very start includes sealing ducts. Unfortunately, in the hundreds of feet of ductwork in a typical home, there are countless places where air can leak. Air losses here only make your heating and cooling system work that much harder and drives up utility bills.

Sealing the seams of your ductwork prevents air from escaping and improves the efficiency of your heating and cooling system. This reduces energy losses, helps control moisture, and creates a more temperature-stable environment.

Insulating ductwork where it passes through crawl spaces will also increase your heating and cooling efficiency and help control condensation and moisture.

Solar Electric

Solar panels are gaining popularity in Northern Michigan. This is due to more efficient panels, favorable tax incentives for homeowners, and cooperation with electric utility companies to buy excess power produced by individual homeowners. If you are considering a solar system, we can work with you and our electricians to ensure that your needs are met.

Water Heaters

Selecting the right size water heater that meets your needs is an important decision. Overly large heaters can waste energy and money. Too small can do the same (not to mention being annoying and inconvenient). On-demand  or tankless water heaters might be the right choice and can be used with traditional water heaters to provide adequate and timely hot water when and where you need it. We also insulate all hot water pipes to help keep the water warm and reduce energy costs.

Household Appliances

Besides heating and cooling, your major appliances, such as refrigerators, ranges, ovens, washers, and dryers, account for most of your utility costs. Look for ENERGY STAR® ratings when selecting these. Don’t forget lightbulbs, home entertainment, and computers either.

Smart Home Features

Technology can help automatically manage your heating, cooling, and lighting costs. For additional information, see our article that discusses Smart Homes in detail.

Backup Generators

While not necessarily related to energy efficiency, it is worth considering during the planning stages. For example, suppose a backup generator is desired. In that case, we can ensure that the electric system is designed to accommodate a generator. Even if you don’t install one right away, this can save you time and money should you decide to install one later.

View our portfolio to see examples of some of the finest homes in Northern Michigan.

Are you ready to make your dream home a reality?
Please contact us today
to make an appointment to discuss your home-building plans. We’ll be with you every step of the way to guide you to the perfect home.

Choosing the Right Roofing Material For Your Northern Michigan Custom Home - featured image

When building a custom home in Northern Michigan, you’re faced with selecting from many roofing options. Of course, style matters but so does selecting the suitable roofing materials that protect your investment.

Beyond materials alone, the proper usage of the material, along with the appropriate design, is critical. Therefore, we always discuss with our clients the different options in both design and materials so that you can rest easy knowing you made the right choice.

Our climate presents challenges, and selecting materials that can hold up to and protect your home from harsh winters, heat, direct sunlight, and moisture is an important decision. Luckily there are many options for an attractive and protective roof.

Roofing Materials for Northern Michigan

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are the most popular choice due to their lower initial cost and are available in various colors. Asphalt shingles are versatile and work well with complicated rooflines. In the extreme weather conditions that Northern Michigan poses, the average lifespan of asphalt shingles is 15-20 years. Some manufacturers offer premium grades that can extend the lifespan.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofs come in not only various colors but also a variety of appearances. Metal roofs often look like other materials. While standing ridge roofs are common, you can choose shake, shingles, slate, or classic Mediterranean tile.

Metal roofs are a popular choice in Northern Michigan. They tend to be better at shedding snow, leaves, and pine needles than traditional asphalt or fiberglass shingles.

Metal roofs are lighter in weight than many other materials. This means there is less total weight on your roofing trusses. This is beneficial considering Northern Michigan’s snowfall. But, of course, our homes are built to withstand heavy snow loads. Snow shields help prevent large sections of snow from falling like an avalanche and are strategically placed to protect walkways and doorways.

Metal roofs are also energy efficient and can help reduce heating and cooling costs. Another big plus in Northern Michigan!

Metal roofs do have a few downsides. They can be noisier in rainstorms, although insulation helps make this less noticeable. While their initial cost is higher, the long-term or total cost of ownership is often lower than other roofing choices.

Slate or Concrete Tile Roofing

Slate and concrete tile make for a gorgeous roof but are considerably heavier than metal or asphalt shingle roofing. This means that the extra reinforcement is necessary to accommodate the added weight of our Northern Michigan snowfalls. Durability is excellent, but costs tend to run higher than other choices.

Roof Care and Maintenance

No matter what material you choose, all roofs need care and maintenance. For example, cleaning gutters, removing tree branches or debris, and inspecting flashing should be done annually to prevent problems.

Factors that affect roofing material choices and longevity include:

  • Roof pitch; steeper pitches tend to shed rain, snow, and debris, better prolonging the lifespan of the roofing material. Complicated pitches and gables can add to material and labor costs as well.
  • Surrounding environmental factors include the amount of direct sunlight or shade and nearby trees that can shed leaves, pine needles, or other debris. Mold, moss, and algae can also affect your roof’s integrity.
  • A well-designed roof includes proper insulation and ventilation to mitigate icicles and ice dams.

Lakeshore Custom Homes will consult with you and help you make an educated decision. We can guide you through many choices and help you choose the best options based on your home design, site selection, budget, and local factors. We are committed to providing the best quality construction so you can enjoy your custom home.

Please view our portfolio to see examples of some of the finest homes in Northern Michigan.

Are you ready to make your dream home a reality?
Contact us today
to make an appointment to discuss your home-building plans. We’ll be with you every step of the way to guide you to the perfect home.

5 Ways to Go Green On Your Next Home or Remodel - featured image

(Updated 2/12/2023)

Energy-efficient homes save homeowners money on their monthly utility bills while improving their overall comfort by reducing drafty spots and extreme temperatures.

When we build new homes, we follow green building practices to ensure an efficient home design that will help reduce energy usage. As a result, green homes are both cost-efficient and sustainable.

When considering your next home or remodel, here are five easy ways to go green, reduce your energy bills, and save up to hundreds of dollars each year.

How to Make Your Home More Energy-Efficient

Energy Audits

The first step to making your home more energy efficient is hiring a professional to assess your home’s energy performance. Energy audits identify where your home may be leaking hot and cool air and show you the most cost-effective ways to reduce energy waste and increase energy efficiency in your home. Some utility companies offer this as a free service.


Installing or adding insulation to a home’s walls, floors, and attic is typically one of the most cost-effective ways to reduce energy loss and improve your home’s energy performance.

Many types of insulation are available, including fiberglass batts, cellulose, spray foam, blown-in fiberglass, rigid foam board, and mineral wool. The type of insulation used will depend on where it needs to be installed, its thickness, and whether it needs to be sealed.

Air Sealing

Like insulation, air and duct sealing provide an excellent bang for the buck for its low costs and significant energy savings. Air sealing involves finding where hot and cool air may be seeping out of holes in walls, ceilings, or ductwork and sealing them with caulk and weatherstripping to stop the air leaks. This also helps to improve comfort by eliminating drafts.

The best way to seal leaks is by using a combination of caulking and weather stripping. Caulk fills gaps between materials and seals around doors, windows, vents, pipes, electrical outlets, etc. Weatherstripping is used to seal cracks and crevices.

Upgrade Appliances and Electronics

Most home appliances and electronics use electricity. Thanks to technological advances, most appliances and electronics now have a high-efficiency counterpart. When in the market for a new home or remodel, look for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Energy Star label, indicating that an appliance performs the same function for less energy.

Simple things like changing to LED lights can reduce energy costs. Smart thermostats are an easy upgrade as well.

Tankless water heaters may also be an option, especially in larger homes or areas that don’t consume large amounts of hot water.

See our in-depth article on Smart Home Technology for more information.

Space Heating and Cooling

The energy to heat and cool homes typically accounts for more than half of all energy consumption. Like your home’s appliances, Energy Star has also created high-efficiency air conditioners, water heaters, and furnaces to keep your home at optimal temperatures while using significantly less energy.

Please view our portfolio to see examples of some of the finest homes in Northern Michigan.

The team here at Lakeshore Custom Homes would love to help you evaluate the best ways to “Go Green” on your next remodel project or new home. We have built LEED-certified homes and stay current on the best practices for energy-efficient home building. If you have any questions about energy savings and quality home construction or remodeling in northern Michigan, don’t hesitate to contact us today to make an appointment to discuss your home-building plans.