A typical home must have insulation in the walls, ceiling, and basement. Insulation is installed in the barrier that stands between heated and unheated spaces. The insulation will prevent the cold air from entering the house during winter or prevent the hot air from getting into the air-conditioned house during the hot days of summer. There are many insulation options available, but recently, one type of insulation has become popular among homeowners and builders.
Spray Polyurethane Foam
Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) is foam insulation, a heat-activated polymer that is sprayed into place using special equipment. Using a heated hose, the mixture of two ingredients is sprayed onto the surface area that needs insulation. During the heating process inside the spray hose, the two chemicals undergo a chemical reaction that turns the liquid into foam. Once applied, the sprayed foam hardens into place as it cools down.
Spray polyurethane foam comes in two options:
- Open-cell SPF, which is lighter and cheaper but has less insulating power
- Closed-cell SPF, which is denser and more expensive but provides more support to structures and also acts as a water vapor barrier
SPF has become the popular choice of homeowners and homebuilders because of its greater potential to seal air leakages than many other insulation options. SPF is sprayed onto the desired surface, and the foam fills up all cavities and seals small holes that prevent air leakage. When applied on vertical and horizontal surfaces, SPF acts both as an air barrier and thermal insulator. It is especially valuable in regions with sudden change of temperatures. It is made of synthetic materials and will not attract insects or rodents (a big advantage over other types of insulation).
Ease of Installation
The reason spray polyurethane foam is popular among contractors is the ease of installation as compared with other insulation materials such as batt or board insulations. SPF adapts to small and hard-to-reach spaces in comparison to batt and board which are more rigid and unwieldy. SPF can be injected into any wall cavity to fill tight spaces. It also works well on sloped surfaces.
Potential Health Issues
Along with the benefits come a few cautions. SPF is a mixture of chemicals. Just as with any chemicals, people might have an allergic reaction to SPF. Some people have complained of reactions to the odor of the foam spray. The Environmental Protection Agency has warned consumers of the potential health risks of the chemicals found in SPF, especially during the installation process. It is advisable for people installing this insulation to strictly follow guidelines and instructions.