Due to the increasing importance of energy efficiency in new home and building construction, spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation in becoming more popular. SPF is a very efficient insulating and air sealing material and comes in a variety of different types.
If you are considering having SPF installed in your home you may have some questions. These are our most frequently asked questions about Spray Polyurethane Foam insulation.
What are the types of spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation and where are they used?
SPF is a resilient foam that can be used to close small to mid sized gaps and insulate large areas in new construction or renovation on the interior or exterior of a building. Sealing small gaps or entire areas with SPF can greatly increase energy efficiency.
Several types of SPF are known as two-component foam because the chemicals used to make the foam come in two separate containers. The chemicals are mixed together in a mixing chamber and are applied using a spray pump or spray gun. Generally, two-component SPF products fall into two main types, either low pressure or high pressure systems:
Most SPFs are referred to as two component foam because the chemicals that make up the foam come in two separate containers. These two components are mixed together and are then applied with a sprayer similar to a garden hose. Typically two component SPFs fall into two categories, low pressure and high pressure.
- Two component low pressure systems are used by contractors to seal and insulate small to mid-size areas like attics, crawl spaces, and fill gaps in primary insulation.
- Two component high pressure systems are used to insulate larger areas in new construction and major renovations.
An energy audit on your house or building by a professional auditor will help locate areas that need extra insulation and sealing.
What things should I be looking for in a contractor? What type of questions should I ask?
Any time you are hiring a contractor to work on your home you should be sure they have:
- Appropriate training (In SPF installation)
- A good reputation and references
A good contractor can tell you:
- Where SPF insulation should be installed in your home
- What to expect during every stage of installation
- Safety precautions and the specifications for any products being installed
As an added service, your contractor may also offer guidance on how to take advantage of local and federal utility rebates or tax credits.
Your contractor may also have knowledge or local and federal utility rebates and tax credits that you may be able to take advantage of.
Can I install SPF insulation myself?
When it comes to bigger jobs that require two component systems it is best to leave installation to a trained professional. Larger projects require specific applications and can be complicated. These jobs also require proper protective equipment, including respirators, which a trained professional will have on hand.
There are insulating foam sealant products available in cans for Do-It-Yourselfers at home improvement stores. These products are used for small "bead-type" applications, such as sealing windows, doors, and filling small gaps and cracks.
Most home improvement stores offer foam sealant products for small jobs in a can to seal small gaps and cracks.
What to expect during SPF application...
Can I stay at home while SPF is installed?
Before having SPF installed be sure to check with your contractor for information about how long you and your family must stay out of the house after installation.
I will have other contractors working at my home. Will installation affect them?
Be sure to discuss any work being done in your home with your contractor before moving ahead with the installation. The SPF contractor should discuss the timing of the installation with any other contractors working in your home.
After the application...
What should the site look like when installation is complete?
Always discuss your expectations with your contractor so every stage of the installation will be clear. Typical expectations include:
- Removal of dust, debris and foam trimmings by the contractor
- The proper disposal of any empty containers and drums according to applicable federal, state, provincial and local requirements.
How long does SPF last? Will the foam degrade with time?
It is best to discuss the specifics of the SPF you are having installed with the contractor doing the installation. One of the reasons for SPFs popularity is its resistance to settling and its structural integrity.
What should I do if I smell an odor after SPF installation?
If you have concerns about scents you think may be due to the SPF installation you should contact your contractor immediately to verify that proper procedures were followed and the site was properly cleaned up after the job was completed. If you still have concerns contact your local or state consumer protection office.
Can SPF insulation help to control moisture in my home?
Cracks in your building can allow humid air into the building. This moist air can cause discomfort in your home as well as increase heating and cooling costs. The excess moisture can also sometimes promote mold growth and even increase the risk of deterioration in your home. Sealing all gaps will help stop humid air from entering your home and help prevent these problems from occurring.
Will insects be a problem with the foam?
SPF does not usually attract insects. Sealing the cracks and gaps in your home will help keep insects and rodents outside rather than inside. Over time pests may chew through foam insulation despite the fact that it is not a food source.
Is SPF insulation a fire hazard? Is it flammable?
SPF usually has flame retardants in it and they are designed to meet building and fire codes when they're properly installed.