Much Ado About Spray Foam

This is what my living room looked like a few hours ago.

This is what it looks like right meow.

What you are looking at is a little over $500 worth of spray foam. Expensive? Very. I’d like to think I’m worth it though. Once again I used our touch n seal cpds closed cell foam. It was cold, and I had limited time, so I didn’t get the optimal expansion, but it turned out okay. I sprayed around 2 inches,  giving me an air tight, moisture proof r14. I could have filled the entire cavity, but opted not to for cost reasons. I’ll be picking up some drywall later and throwing that on.

I had an opportunity earlier this week to use another type of closed cell spray foam so I figured I would share my experience. What I used was Dow chemicals refillable set up. I’ll start with what I liked about it first. The cost per board foot of dow’s chemicals is cheaper than what we are paying right now, the applicator gun feels more expensive and does a better job at keeping a 1 to 1 ratio, the tanks are larger so there is less down time swapping out product, and they had a much longer hose reach.

Now, the negative. Instead of an air compressor with a doubler like our machine has, it uses a nitrogen bottle as it’s propellant. Setting and maintaining equal pressures in each tank was kind of a hassle. The tanks are refillable, which means that there is the possibility of some jack ass pounding to much product into a tank at one time and creating excess moisture in the tanks. The problem with moisture is that it makes the chemicals crystallize and not mix properly and clog up the system. Finally, it seemed like there were more air voids in their foam than ours. Granted, the foam was a few months old, but it just didn’t seem as rigid as what we are applying.

All in all though, I wouldn’t have an issue with using either product but give a slight edge to our touch n seal based on my familiarity with it.

Fresh Starts With Volatile Chemicals.

With walls up the next step is to pull wires and insulate this place.

This house has rough cut 2×4 walls so the R21 Fiberglass option is out. R13 Fiberglass could potentially be the way to go, but I want a way to eliminate air movement in my walls. If only there were some kind of magic material which had double the R value of fiberglass, was a moisture barrier, and I have access too.

Closed Cell spray foam insulation! R7 per inch(4xR7=R28). Very expensive to install($1.05 per board foot our cost) but it will pay for itself in 3 years due to no air movement knocking the heat out of my house. The only problem with this stuff is that you have to make sure you have a VOC Mask or even better, supplied air. It is a 2 part foam that loves moisture, and guess where there is a lot of that : your lungs. If you start spraying this stuff naked your lungs will be candy coated.

The spray foam that you see in Holmes on Homes and other DIY shows(spray 1/8 inch and it expands outside the walls)  is an open cell foam which has the same R value as fiberglass and allows moisture to pass through, but is roughly half the cost. I want the highest R possible in my thin walls and I feel that closed cell is always the best option. We’ve done a lot of jobs tearing out improperly installed open cell with huge air voids so I simply don’t trust that product. An interesting fact about icynene brand spray foam : It can not stick to itself. If you spray it, cut it with a hot knife and there is an air void(which there can be a lot of) and you spray some more in, the product will not bond with the previously applied foam.

Next step : Hang drywall, climb up into the attic, spray the top of the drywall to create a 100% airseal.