The Difference Between Open-Cell and Closed-Cell Spray Foam Insulation
For commercial use or residential, Spray Foam Insulation is available as open-cell or closed-cell. Each is typically installed in a specific application, and with the professional recommendation of an expert installer. It’s not a hard and fast rule, but the closed-cell foam is often used as “continuous” insulation on the exterior of a building structure, while the open-cell foam offers is common when addressing interior applications. Both offer high performance when it comes to a building’s energy efficiency.
Closed-cell Spray Foam Insulation (for exterior application)
- Can be effectively installed at very low temperatures
- Finished installation provides high thermal resistance
- An ideal application for “continuous” insulation needs
- Provides a very low level of water/vapour permeance
- Adds structural strength to the entire application area
Open-cell Spray Foam Insulation (for interior application)
- This spray foam product is less costly than closed-cell
- The compound uses fewer chemicals (impacts the cost)
- Finished application serves as an effective air barrier
- Doesn’t provide the most effective water/vapour barrier
- Serves as a combination air barrier/insulating material
Throughout the insulation industry, professional installers agree that Spray Foam Insulation is a much superior option than most other products. Indeed, the closed-cell product does a better job, with more benefits, than any other type of insulation. The beauty, of course, is that closed-cell foam provides both an air barrier AND a moisture barrier in one application. As such, the closed-cell product has become the option-of-choice for many outdoor applications, including roofing, siding, and the attic cavity.
Closed-cell foam has proven itself to deliver the highest R-Value when compared with other products. It therefore provides exceptional long-term value, particularly when it comes to energy savings. The finished application maximizes energy efficiency, allowing for significant homeowner savings when heating and/or cooling the home. For new construction, renovation, or retrofitting, a professional installation will also improve indoor air quality, overall air circulation, and HVAC performance.
Spray Foam Insulation, whether open-cell or closed-cell, is a premium product and installation. It’s more costly than other product options, but the long-term investment far outweighs the initial costs. A spray foam installation will last a lifetime, without the need to replace or replenish the materials. This means that the value proposition is a good one - with a so-called “pay-back” period between five and seven years. In fact, the heating/cooling savings actually offset the original, up front expense.
The predominant benefit of Spray Foam Insulation is that it does everything in one installation. When expertly applied, the coverage provides higher R-Value than other products. It’s also serves as an air barrier and moisture barrier at the same time. And finally, it optimizes energy efficiency in a building dramatically enough to provide substantial utility savings year after year. While every home and every project will differ, it’s the experts who can advise on the product and installation that best suits.
Importantly, Spray Foam Insulation is not recommended as a DIY endeavour. It should be left for the professionals - those who have in-depth product knowledge and years of installation expertise.