Insulating Your New Home? Give A Little Thought To Your Spray-In Options
Choosing the insulation for your new home is a big decision. Whichever material you opt to use, you'll be stuck with it with quite a few years, which means it's imperative to get it right the first time. If you're considering using spray foam insulation or you've never even heard of it before, it might save you time and money in the long run to compare it with traditional fiberglass insulation and understand how the different spray types might benefit you.
Spray Foam Vs. Fiberglass
Fiberglass is the traditional insulation material of choice for many builders, but how does spray insulation stack up to it?
R-Value: Higher r-values mean your home will better retain heat in winter and stay cool in summer. Fiberglass insulation can be placed as sheets or blown-in, and this placement method will affect its r-value. At the lowest, fiberglass insulation has a value of 2.2 per square foot, and 3.14 at the highest. In contrast, spray insulation can provide a 3.5 r-value even at its lowest, and your options go as high as an r-value of 6 per square foot.
Humidity: Fiberglass provides little protection from humid air that enters through the cracks in your roof and walls. In contrast, closed-cell spray insulation can block water vapor from entering your home. Unlike fiberglass, closed-cell foam also doesn't suffer a hit to its r-value when wet.
Ease-Of-Use: Using fiberglass insulation typically requires measuring the space you have to insulate and cutting the insulation to size. In contrast, you only need a general idea of the area you'll need to cover before you buy your spray foam. It's also easy to leave accidental gaps that reduce your home's energy efficiency when placing fiberglass batts, while spray foam will quickly fill in any cracks or crevices where you spray it.
Cost: Per square foot, fiberglass tends to be less expensive than spray insulation. Depending on the brand you choose, you could save around $1 per square foot by opting for fiberglass instead of more costly closed cell foam..
Open Cell Foam
Of the two forms of spray insulation, open cell foam is the least expensive. It averages around 80 cents per square foot, and it tends to be less dense than closed cell foam, which means you have to use less to fill in the same area.
The r-value for open cell foam is also lower than that of closed cell foam, hovering between 3.5 and 3.7 per square foot. Because of its low cost, open cell foam makes up for this low value by allowing you to place multiple layers on top of each other to increase the insulation level.
Open cell foam provides a small level of noise reduction when compared to other options, but shouldn't be relied on in very noisy areas due to its low density.
In general, open cell spray insulation is best for homes with large amounts of space for the insulating material to fill. It's also best used in mild climates with low humidity.
Closed Cell Foam
As previously mentioned, closed cell foam tends to be more expensive than the open cell variety. Cost averages about $1.20 per square foot, though some manufacturer's prices may be significantly lower or higher depending on your region and their variety of insulating product.
Closed cell spray foam offers an incredibly high r-value of 6, meaning you don't have to use as much material to get your house very well insulated. This can cut down on manual labor and also allow you to take advantage of smaller areas that require heavy insulation.
Humid areas will typically require closed cell foam, since, unlike open cell insulation, its properties allow it to easily block water vapor from entering the home. Its high r-value also means it's suited for climates with severe temperature extremes during the winter and summer.
Whether you live in a tropical paradise or somewhere with less friendly weather, spray foam insulation is likely to be useful to you. It may be slightly more costly than fiberglass, but its high r-value and potential additional benefits mean it could save you heaps in the long-run. If you're looking to insulate your new home, spray insulation is one option that's seriously worth considering.
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