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Spray foam is quickly becoming the preferred insulator for homes and businesses in the United States. It is superior to fiberglass and cellulose insulation in many ways.
With this type of insulation, spray guns are used to blow a combination of liquid chemicals into walls, floors and ceilings. The material expands to about 100 times its original size and seals, leaving few if any gaps where air can escape.
This guide will help you better understand spray insulation and what it should cost.
Types of Spray Foam Insulation
There are two basic types of spray foam insulation: open cell and closed cell.
- Open-cell spray foam, also called half-pound foam, has an R-value of about 3.6 per inch. (R-value is a measure of thermal heat resistance. The higher the R-value, the more energy efficient the insulation.) Open-cell foam is less expensive and requires less material, but it is vapor-permeable, requiring an interior vapor retarder.
- Closed-cell spray foam, or two-pound foam, has an R-value of about 6 to 6.5 per inch, making it more energy efficient. Closed-cell foam is also strong, dense, and a vapor retarder. On the downside, it is significantly more expensive and produces hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that are much worse for the environment than carbon dioxide.
Cost of Spray Foam Insulation
Spray foam is far more expensive than other types of insulation, including fiberglass or cellulose, but your energy bills could be 20 percent to 50 percent lower. Eventually, the additional cost will be recouped in energy savings, but it could take up to 20 years.
The cost of spray foam insulation depends heavily on your region of the country. Homes in very cold climates need more insulation and insulation with a higher R-value. For accurate pricing, it is best to seek multiple quotes locally.
Generally, open-cell spray foam costs about $0.44 to $0.65 per board foot, according to Green Building Advisor, while closed-cell costs about $0.70 to $1 per board food. A board foot, which is a measure of volume, is equal to 144 cubic inches.
In terms of square feet, spray foam insulation usually costs anywhere from $2.50 to $7 per square foot, including installation. For a 2,000-square-foot home, that works out to about $5,000 to $14,000. Again, the price varies widely from one region to another, so check with local contractors for more precise estimates.
Spray Foam Insulation Pros and Cons
Traditional insulation leaves gaps and cracks where air can escape, lowering the temperature and increasing energy costs. Spray foam insulation expands to fill the cracks, making the home more energy efficient. Spray foam insulation also prevents moisture build up, decreasing the likelihood of mold or mildew.
However, spray foam insulation requires a significant investment, and it will take many years to recoup those costs in energy savings. Spray foam can be messy and it needs to be protected from direct exposure to sunlight. Some people are allergic to spray foam insulation and develop health problems when it is used.
Author: Ashley Smith