Spray Foam Insulation
Understanding spray foam products
Spray Foam Insulation, a residential application that is gaining more and more popularity, uses Polyurethane Foam to effectively seal and insulate the home. Without getting overly technical, the foam insulation is “sprayed” into a space, using specialized equipment that ensures uniform product coverage. This is such an adaptable product, that every part of a home can be insulated efficiently – attic insulation and roof cavities; exterior foundation walls; basements and crawl spaces; and even floors and ceilings. Every space is tightly air sealed and insulated with very high R-Value.
When installed, spray foam initially appears as a thick liquid, and quickly becomes a dense, hardened “envelope” that remains in place. Professionals offer two types of foam product, each with a specific usage. There is open cell spray foam (commonly known as half-pound) and there is closed cell spray foam (commonly known as two-pound). Open cell spray foam is somewhat less costly, providing a good air barrier but not a good moisture barrier. Closed cell spray foam is much denser, providing BOTH an air barrier AND a moisture barrier in a single application.
Industry professionals agree that Spray Foam Insulation is a superior installation option when compared to others. A thorough installation will deliver high R-Values, and provide outstanding dollar value in comparison with other products and applications. A finished application ensures that a space is totally airtight space, with no capacity for air leakage. This will guarantee that no heated air or air conditioning will escape the “building envelope”. As such, spray foam performs far more effectively than any of the other insulation products (when installed on their own).
Spray Foam Insulation has become a preferential method for new home construction, general renovations, and home energy retrofits. However, it’s considered a premium installation, and therefore more of an investment than conventional products. The fact is, spray foam delivers more long-term benefits than other insulation methods. The application will last for a lifetime; the savings on heating and air conditioning are substantial; and the so-called “payback” period is reasonable. With something like home insulation, it makes sense to think longer-term.
The benefits of spray foam insulation
Spray foam insulation is about “continuous insulation” - something that many contractors and renovators seem to overlook. “Continuous insulation” prevents air leakage caused by thermal bridging, a dynamic that reduces the performance of an insulated space. Without “continuous insulation”, the advertised R-Value of any product will fall short of real-time performance. This means that when thermal bridging is not properly addressed, the finished space will not deliver optimum insulation performance, and will never perform according to manufacturer claims.
For professionals, “continuous insulation” is simply an uninterrupted insulation envelope, and without any thermal bridging. When insulating, the idea is to diminish the negative effects of thermal bridges. This will ensure that indoor heat will not escape during winter and cooled air will not escape during summer. In other words, overcoming thermal bridging will maximize R-Values throughout the building envelope. This is precisely where spray foam insulation is of the most benefit to a homeowner, regardless of whether the space is steel framed or wood framed.
As a high performance product, spray foam insulation offers many benefits as an uninterrupted insulation envelope. Air leakage (heating and cooling) is dramatically blocked. Installed R-Value is maximized. And moisture accumulation (including condensation) is impeded. Overall, the HVAC system will work more efficiently, and energy usage (natural gas and electricity) will be measurably curtailed. This means that throughout the year, a homeowner will realize reduced utility bills. Naturally, this a great benefit as the savings accumulate year after year after year.
Spray foam is the most effective option for eliminating thermal bridging issues. Ideal for both interior and exterior application, there are no products that can deliver comparable results. As a “continuous insulation” envelope, spray foam will meet and exceed the building code for both residential and commercial buildings. This is the way to do it right from the start, with a focus on addressing air leakage, and therefore making sure that the installed insulation will perform at peak. For the professionals in the industry, it’s an approach that makes economic sense.
SFI installations throughout the home
In large, expansive areas of a home, like the attic and roof, spray foam insulation is becoming a favourite for professional installers. These areas are probably the most vulnerable in the home, and absolutely require airtightness. Proper sealing means closing up every hole, gap, and crack in the attic. This will ensure that undesirable airflow and air leakage are impeded. Spray foam insulation allows an attic/roof cavity to be sealed and insulated with a single application. And when professionally installed, SFI will completely blanket the space, with every little nook and cranny being sealed. The insulating envelope will cover all of the supporting roof beams; all of the exposed wiring and plumbing; and any protruding ductwork throughout the space. Once completed, an attic space is virtually impermeable to any air and/or moisture intrusion.
In a basement, quality insulation will improve energy efficiency throughout the entire home. And when property executed, the benefits range from energy savings to home comfort. Clearly, every home is different, but basement insulation remains a cost-worthy home improvement regardless of space size. The upfront investment will set the stage for considerable cost savings in winter (heating the home) and in summer (cooling the home). Whether a basement is being newly insulated or simply retrofitted, spray foam insulation is the ideal for effective sealing and insulating. What’s most important is that awkward spaces in certain parts of the basement get well sealed - this is a not a problem for spray foam, but certainly problematic for many other products. Here again, the idea is to prevent unwanted airflow and moisture from intruding.
Another worthwhile insulation upgrade for many is the garage. Professionals consider attached garages as “boundaries” between outdoor air and indoor air, and in many cases, insulating the garage can provide benefits. For example, when there’s a living space above the garage, it’s not unusual for the space to be extremely hot in summer, and quite cold in winter. When the garage has been well insulated, there’s a dramatic difference in the living space above, and oftentimes in other parts of the home. Garages are part of the building “envelope” and should be treated like the rest of the home, particularly when insulation is being considered. With spray foam, an insulated garage can provide both energy efficiency and home comfort. Best of all, the project cost will be quickly offset by the savings on utilities.
Installing spray foam professionally
Professional installers understand spray foam insulation. They understand how to choose the right product for job. They understand the application process. And they understand that working with the building code is required. Spray foam insulation is by no means a weekend home improvement project for the DIY enthusiast. By any definition, this is work for an expert. And experts do it right. They wear recommended protective clothing; they prepare the job site appropriately; and they make every effort to mitigate risk and/or danger.
Spray foam insulation requires both expertise and experience. These are chemical compounds that require precision preparation, specialized equipment, and application expertise. As it is, there are plenty of bad installations, including some from self-professed experts. A bad install will only lead to problems down the line. On the other hand, spray foam professionals are well trained, industry licensed, and professionally certified. They will warrantee products that are installed, and will guarantee customer satisfaction once the installation has been completed.
In Canada, industry associations encourage consumers to carefully choose service providers in order to avoid potential installation problems, risky health and safety issues, and any future complications. But while industry associations make an effort to promote high professional standards, it’s really up to every homeowner to be educated and informed about spray foam insulation. Homeowners should do the necessary research, ask incisive questions when hiring a contractor, and make astute decisions that are not always focused on the lowest price offered.
Nothing can compare with spray foam
Today, insulation professionals are routinely recommending spray foam insulation for both residential and commercial applications. It’s simply because the product performs well above the industry standard, and is adaptable to every part of a building structure - including attics, roofs, basements, and garages. And when performance assessments are made, there’s nothing much that can compare with a spray foam application. In fact, many contractors consider spray foam insulation to be the best product on the market.
As a premium quality product, spray foam insulation cost should be assessed from a cost-benefit perspective. It’s a long-term investment, with homeowner benefits and utility savings that will offset the upfront project cost. Unlike other installations, spray foam doesn’t settle over time, and doesn’t lose any of its thermal integrity. The finished space doesn’t require maintenance, doesn’t need to be “topped up”, and will never need replacement. This is a cost-effective home improvement that will actually pay for itself over time.
Spray foam insulation provides measurably more thermal resistance than other products. It simultaneously seals and insulates the “building envelope” - something that no other product can do on its own. In fact, many other stand-alone products may require an initial application of spray foam in order to deliver better performance. Best of all, spray foam can be applied over countless substrates - everything from concrete, to wood, to steel. Here again, the traditional insulating products would have a problem with this.
For professional installers, addressing every space, cavity, and indentation is time consuming and challenging, whatever the scope of an insulation project. Products like fiberglass batts or blown insulation have difficulty effectively covering every space and indentation and ensuring maximum insulation performance. But with a spray foam application, there really is no issue - every space, crack and crevice is sealed, effectively blocking air leakage and moisture intrusion – not to mention insulating with very high R-Values.
Shopping for a reliable contractor
In the Greater Toronto Area, EcoStar Insulation is one of the foremost full service contractors in the business. Specializing in residential and commercial installations, EcoStar is more than just an insulation company - offering homeowners energy saving solutions from attic to basement. As a company, installers are focused on 100% customer satisfaction, with a commitment to the highest quality products, and superior installation work.
EcoStar installation crews are professional and reliable - we try to fully satisfy customer needs within a month of making first contact. And we guarantee a high standard of work, whether it’s a small job or a big project, and whether it’s during our peak season or during our slow season. Importantly for the homeowner, EcoStar specializes in Spray Foam Insulation, providing viable energy saving solutions that are the most cost effective.
High performance insulation is more than just keeping the home nice and warm in winter and comfortably cool in summer. With EcoStar, it’s about a comprehensive approach – moderating energy consumption; reducing seasonal utility costs; even improving the indoor acoustics. It’s also about dealing with the building structure as a “system”, with air sealing, insulation, and ventilation working in tandem to ensure performance.
By any measure, Spray Foam Insulation demands professional installation and application. The compounds require special handling and the equipment requires a degree of expertise. Above all, every application requires meticulous attention to detail to ensure effective coverage. At EcoStar, installers are trained and experienced with product and installation - they are highly knowledgeable with the complexities of these products.
With EcoStar on the job, homeowners can rest assured that the project is being professionally managed from start to finish. All work is expedited in accordance with building codes; products are always installed according to the manufacturer’s specifications; and install teams don't take needless shortcuts. For the homeowner, it’s all guaranteed – from the quality products, to the superior workmanship, to the ongoing customer service.