Upgrading Your Insulation To Spray Foam

Posted on: 13 July 2015


Spray foam offers a number of improvements that can't be found with other insulation materials, not the least of which being a reduction in gaps, drafts and vapor penetration. However, replacing your existing insulation can be a challenge if you're not familiar with the characteristics of spray foam. Knowing where to start, and what precautions to take, will ensure that updating your insulation goes smoothly and results in a safe, complete application.

Starting Slow

To get a feel for how the application process will go, it's a good idea to start with parts of your home that offer few challenges, such as your attic or basement. Both of these spaces can be easily updated with minimal disruption to your daily life, and little clean-up. While applying spray foam to exterior walls in the rest of your home will require you to replace drywall and pay particular attention to the routing of wires and plumbing, attics and unfinished basement spaces will give you the greatest return on your investment.

Given the nature of heat and cold, starting with your attic will ensure that heat from your home doesn't dissipate as quickly. Further, it will ensure that heat from outside doesn't penetrate the attic as readily. Applying spray foam to an unfinished basement is only slightly less advantageous, as it will have a greater impact on the slow seep of cold air and moisture from the ground into your home. When applying spray foam to an unfinished basement, make sure you're ready to frame and drywall the space, or the rigid foam will present a barrier to it in the future.

Taking Precautions

One of the most important drawbacks to be aware of when working with spray foam is how it interacts with heat. Spray foam is composed of polyurethane, which atomizes when heated and becomes noxious if inhaled. For this reason, a heat barrier should be placed between any spray foam in your home and any potential heat source, such as recessed lighting, electrical wiring, HVAC ducts, or anywhere else that might reach an excessively high temperature.

Apart from safety concerns, you should also be aware of the difficulty involved in future renovations, given the rigid nature of spray foam products once set. If you're considering updating the insulation in your home's exterior walls, do so as part of a larger renovation to ensure that wiring, plumbing, framing, windows, ventilation and other fixed structures aren't going to need relocated in the foreseeable future. This will save you some inconvenience, and the cost of re-applying new spray foam a second time.

Spray foam is not only a good insulator, it's also insect resistant, mold resistant, provides its own vapor barrier, and is extremely versatile. However, without proper planning you can end up paying several times for a product that should only need to be applied once. Make sure the contractor you choose is aware of your plans, and willing to make as many trips as you require to complete your update. For more information, talk to a company like Bios Environments.