Launch Slideshow

Johns Manville. The companys offerings include JM Corbond III, a medium-density closed-cell polyurethane foam with an R-value of 6.6 per inch that can be used alone or in hybrid systems with fiberglass to create affordable applications. New to the portfolio is ocSPF, an open-cell insulation with an R-value of 3.8 per inch; according to the maker, the products blowing agents are made with 100% reactive catalysts to minimize emissions during spraying. Finally, the manufacturer offers IB Coating, a fire-retardant spray that adheres to polyurethane foam and other substrates to provide an ignition barrier. JM ocSPF and JM IB Coating have been third-party certified by ICC-ES, and JM Corbond has been third-party tested by IAPMO-ES. 800.654.3103. www.jm.com.

Spray-Foam Insulation

6 Spray-Foam Options

Spray-Foam Insulation

6 Spray-Foam Options

  • Demilec. Sealection 500 open-cell, spray-applied, semi-rigid polyurethane foam is fully water-blown and delivers an R-value of 3.81 per inch. The companys premium product, Agribalance, is a water-blown open-cell foam that contains more than 10% renewable agricultural-based materials and delivers R-4.45 per inch. Both products are certified by Energy Star and EcoLogo. Finally, Heatlok Soy closed-cell foam is made of recycled plastic materials and renewable soy oils, and uses Enovate 3000, a blowing agent the firm says has a low GWP. It offers R-6.6 per inch and carries Energy Star, Air Barrier Association of America, and Greenguard certifications. Sealection Agribalance and Heatlok Soy meet Biobased Affirmative Procurement Program criteria. 877.336.4532. www.demilecusa.com.

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    Demilec. Sealection 500 open-cell, spray-applied, semi-rigid polyurethane foam is fully water-blown and delivers an R-value of 3.81 per inch. The companys premium product, Agribalance, is a water-blown open-cell foam that contains more than 10% renewable agricultural-based materials and delivers R-4.45 per inch. Both products are certified by Energy Star and EcoLogo. Finally, Heatlok Soy closed-cell foam is made of recycled plastic materials and renewable soy oils, and uses Enovate 3000, a blowing agent the firm says has a low GWP. It offers R-6.6 per inch and carries Energy Star, Air Barrier Association of America, and Greenguard certifications. Sealection Agribalance and Heatlok Soy meet Biobased Affirmative Procurement Program criteria. 877.336.4532. www.demilecusa.com.

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    Demilec.
    Sealection 500 open-cell, spray-applied, semi-rigid polyurethane foam is fully water-blown and delivers an R-value of 3.81 per inch. The companys premium product, Agribalance, is a water-blown open-cell foam that contains more than 10% renewable agricultural-based materials and delivers R-4.45 per inch. Both products are certified by Energy Star and EcoLogo. Finally, Heatlok Soy closed-cell foam is made of recycled plastic materials and renewable soy oils, and uses Enovate 3000, a blowing agent the firm says has a low GWP. It offers R-6.6 per inch and carries Energy Star, Air Barrier Association of America, and Greenguard certifications. Sealection Agribalance and Heatlok Soy meet Biobased Affirmative Procurement Program criteria. 877.336.4532. www.demilecusa.com.

  • BASF. Comfort Foam and Spraytite medium-density, closed-cell spray polyurethane foam insulations provide an R-value of 6.7 per inch and 6.6 per inch, respectively, and meet FEMA guidelines as suitable insulation materials for flood regions. Also in the companys portfolio is Enertite, a low-density, open-cell water-blown polyurethane foam that delivers an R-value of 3.5 per inch. All three products are Energy Star and Greenguard listed and incorporate renewable, sucrose-based polyols and recycled and/or bio content. 800.526.1072. www.basf.com.

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    BASF. Comfort Foam and Spraytite medium-density, closed-cell spray polyurethane foam insulations provide an R-value of 6.7 per inch and 6.6 per inch, respectively, and meet FEMA guidelines as suitable insulation materials for flood regions. Also in the companys portfolio is Enertite, a low-density, open-cell water-blown polyurethane foam that delivers an R-value of 3.5 per inch. All three products are Energy Star and Greenguard listed and incorporate renewable, sucrose-based polyols and recycled and/or bio content. 800.526.1072. www.basf.com.

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    BASF.
    Comfort Foam and Spraytite medium-density, closed-cell spray polyurethane foam insulations provide an R-value of 6.7 per inch and 6.6 per inch, respectively, and meet FEMA guidelines as suitable insulation materials for flood regions. Also in the companys portfolio is Enertite, a low-density, open-cell water-blown polyurethane foam that delivers an R-value of 3.5 per inch. All three products are Energy Star and Greenguard listed and incorporate renewable, sucrose-based polyols and recycled and/or bio content. 800.526.1072. www.basf.com.

  • Johns Manville. The companys offerings include JM Corbond III, a medium-density closed-cell polyurethane foam with an R-value of 6.6 per inch that can be used alone or in hybrid systems with fiberglass to create affordable applications. New to the portfolio is ocSPF, an open-cell insulation with an R-value of 3.8 per inch; according to the maker, the products blowing agents are made with 100% reactive catalysts to minimize emissions during spraying. Finally, the manufacturer offers IB Coating, a fire-retardant spray that adheres to polyurethane foam and other substrates to provide an ignition barrier. JM ocSPF and JM IB Coating have been third-party certified by ICC-ES, and JM Corbond has been third-party tested by IAPMO-ES. 800.654.3103. www.jm.com.

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    Johns Manville. The companys offerings include JM Corbond III, a medium-density closed-cell polyurethane foam with an R-value of 6.6 per inch that can be used alone or in hybrid systems with fiberglass to create affordable applications. New to the portfolio is ocSPF, an open-cell insulation with an R-value of 3.8 per inch; according to the maker, the products blowing agents are made with 100% reactive catalysts to minimize emissions during spraying. Finally, the manufacturer offers IB Coating, a fire-retardant spray that adheres to polyurethane foam and other substrates to provide an ignition barrier. JM ocSPF and JM IB Coating have been third-party certified by ICC-ES, and JM Corbond has been third-party tested by IAPMO-ES. 800.654.3103. www.jm.com.

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    Johns Manville.
    The companys offerings include JM Corbond III, a medium-density closed-cell polyurethane foam with an R-value of 6.6 per inch that can be used alone or in hybrid systems with fiberglass to create affordable applications. New to the portfolio is ocSPF, an open-cell insulation with an R-value of 3.8 per inch; according to the maker, the products blowing agents are made with 100% reactive catalysts to minimize emissions during spraying. Finally, the manufacturer offers IB Coating, a fire-retardant spray that adheres to polyurethane foam and other substrates to provide an ignition barrier. JM ocSPF and JM IB Coating have been third-party certified by ICC-ES, and JM Corbond has been third-party tested by IAPMO-ES. 800.654.3103. www.jm.com.

  • BioBased. BioBased 502 and BioBased 1701s are made by incorporating Agrol polyol, a 96% soybean-based polyol. 502, a second-generation open-cell, water-blown spray-foam insulation, has 12% bio-content, offers an R-value of 13 at 3 1/2 inches, and is BRE-certified. A higher density, water-blown, closed-cell, 1.7-pound foam, 1701 serves as an air barrier and a Class II vapor retarder at 2 1/2 inches with an R-value of 19 at 3 1/2 inches; it has 16% bio-content and is certified to Greenguard Children & Schools. Both products are Class I fire-rated. 800.803.5189. www.biobased.net.

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    BioBased. BioBased 502 and BioBased 1701s are made by incorporating Agrol polyol, a 96% soybean-based polyol. 502, a second-generation open-cell, water-blown spray-foam insulation, has 12% bio-content, offers an R-value of 13 at 3 1/2 inches, and is BRE-certified. A higher density, water-blown, closed-cell, 1.7-pound foam, 1701 serves as an air barrier and a Class II vapor retarder at 2 1/2 inches with an R-value of 19 at 3 1/2 inches; it has 16% bio-content and is certified to Greenguard Children & Schools. Both products are Class I fire-rated. 800.803.5189. www.biobased.net.

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    BioBased.
    BioBased 502 and BioBased 1701s are made by incorporating Agrol polyol, a 96% soybean-based polyol. 502, a second-generation open-cell, water-blown spray-foam insulation, has 12% bio-content, offers an R-value of 13 at 3 1/2 inches, and is BRE-certified. A higher density, water-blown, closed-cell, 1.7-pound foam, 1701 serves as an air barrier and a Class II vapor retarder at 2 1/2 inches with an R-value of 19 at 3 1/2 inches; it has 16% bio-content and is certified to Greenguard Children & Schools. Both products are Class I fire-rated. 800.803.5189. www.biobased.net.

  • Icynene. The companys portfolio of 100% water-blown spray-foam insulation products ranges from 0.5-pound light density to 2.0-pound medium density. LD-R-50 contains renewable content greater than 7% based on ASTM D 6686 testing and exceeds the renewable content specification set by the USDA BioPreferred program and ICC-SAVE; it offers an R-value of 3.7 per inch. MD-R-200 medium-density spray foam has many of the performance characteristics of a closed-cell product, but since it does not rely on synthetic blowing agents, it has extremely low Global Warming Potential. Compared to its light-density products, MD-R-200 has higher R-value per inch of 5.2, higher compressive strength, higher tensile strength, and lower vapor permeance, and it contains up to 12.6% recycled plastic in the resin. Icynene products comply as Low-Emitting Materials under Collaborative for High Performance Schools EQ 2.2 Section 01350. 800.758.7325. www.icynene.com.

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    Icynene. The companys portfolio of 100% water-blown spray-foam insulation products ranges from 0.5-pound light density to 2.0-pound medium density. LD-R-50 contains renewable content greater than 7% based on ASTM D 6686 testing and exceeds the renewable content specification set by the USDA BioPreferred program and ICC-SAVE; it offers an R-value of 3.7 per inch. MD-R-200 medium-density spray foam has many of the performance characteristics of a closed-cell product, but since it does not rely on synthetic blowing agents, it has extremely low Global Warming Potential. Compared to its light-density products, MD-R-200 has higher R-value per inch of 5.2, higher compressive strength, higher tensile strength, and lower vapor permeance, and it contains up to 12.6% recycled plastic in the resin. Icynene products comply as Low-Emitting Materials under Collaborative for High Performance Schools EQ 2.2 Section 01350. 800.758.7325. www.icynene.com.

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    Icynene.
    The companys portfolio of 100% water-blown spray-foam insulation products ranges from 0.5-pound light density to 2.0-pound medium density. LD-R-50 contains renewable content greater than 7% based on ASTM D 6686 testing and exceeds the renewable content specification set by the USDA BioPreferred program and ICC-SAVE; it offers an R-value of 3.7 per inch. MD-R-200 medium-density spray foam has many of the performance characteristics of a closed-cell product, but since it does not rely on synthetic blowing agents, it has extremely low Global Warming Potential. Compared to its light-density products, MD-R-200 has higher R-value per inch of 5.2, higher compressive strength, higher tensile strength, and lower vapor permeance, and it contains up to 12.6% recycled plastic in the resin. Icynene products comply as Low-Emitting Materials under Collaborative for High Performance Schools EQ 2.2 Section 01350. 800.758.7325. www.icynene.com.

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    CertainTeed. CertaSpray polyurethane foam insulation is offered in open- and closed-cell formulas. CertaSpray closed-cell, a medium-density, MDI-based thermoset rigid foam, delivers an R-value of 5.8 per inch. The open-cell formula, a low-density, MDI-based semi-rigid foam, offers an R-value of 3.7 per inch. The product has achieved ICC-ES approval and is certified under Greenguard and Greenguard Children & Schools. 800.233.8990. www.certainteed.com.

If a single product can claim the status of a green building silver bullet, it might be foam insulation. Singlehandedly, these products can almost guarantee the highest practical levels of R-value per inch, effective air sealing, moisture management, and a higher performance as expanding foam usually fills even unseen gaps; plus, foam remains less susceptible to poor-quality installation, with most jobs done by trained applicators.

But with significant cost differences and subtleties in the performance characteristics and environmental impact of various foams, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of the basic foam products before choosing the best one for a specific project.

Foam Basics

If you’ve used a can of foam sealant, you already know the basics: The insulation comes as a sticky, thick liquid that reacts with air, expanding to flood any cavity you squirt it into. Chemical additives in the foam insulation harden the expanding spume into a resilient, solid substance.

Because of this expanding quality, properly applied foam will generally fill every nook in a wall cavity, band joist, floor joist, and attic rafter so that the entire surface has a tight air seal. Given equal R-values, foam delivers about 20% to 40% better overall performance than traditional fiberglass or cellulose insulation, says Rick Duncan, technical director of the Spray Foam Alliance. The reason for this significant difference, despite equal R-values, comes with trained installation and the built-in air seal.

Closed-cell foam insulation also manages moisture well enough to satisfy current ICC code requirements without an added interior vapor retarder in most applications. Perhaps most surprising, closed-cell insulation adds significant structural value, equivalent to about 75% of the ultimate shear strength of a ½-inch sheet of plywood, according to Duncan.

On the other hand, spray-foam installation costs between 100% to 300% more than professionally installed traditional insulation systems. And from a green building perspective, foam gets dismal marks in cradle-to-gate comparison, containing zero to very low renewable material or recycled content, compared to staple insulation products such as cellulose.

Most foam insulation is made with polyurethane, a two-part chemical composition that when blended creates gas bubbles, and then, like epoxy, sets up quickly, trapping the bubbles in a plastic matrix with excellent insulating properties.