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.

For the technical reader, polyurethane foam insulation results from the reaction of diisocyanates blended with polyols. Chemicals, such as catalysts, surfactants, and flame retardants, may be added to control the set time, workability, and flame-spread characteristics of the final product. It’s in the details of these chemical additives that foams differentiate themselves in both performance and environmental qualities.

Foams deliver superior insulation and air seal; several meet Greenguard indoor air quality standards and contain the most advanced propellants available with no impact on the ozone layer and improving global warming indices. Bio-based products have entered the foam insulation market to offset some of the negative effects, or at least perceived negative effects, of foam’s petroleum pedigree. But some misconceptions exist.

A common misunderstanding is that bio-based spray-foam insulations are made exclusively from rapidly renewable plant sources, such as soybean oil, castor oil, and sucrose-based oils from sugar beets. But most products with bio-based content contain less than 20%; in fact, the USDA’s threshold for claiming spray foam is made with renewable, bio-based materials is only 7%. Nevertheless, the inclusion of plant oils reduces the petroleum content of foam insulation; national green standards provide points for the use of foam insulation products that meet the criteria for the USDA’s Biobased Affirmative Procurement Program.

A study of the environmental benefit of soy-based polyols commissioned by the United Soybean Board in 2004 concluded that every pound of soy polyol that replaces a pound of petroleum has a positive carbon benefit of 5.6 pounds; however, it remains a minor component of foam insulation and some argue that the water and land consumed in growing crops, such as soybeans, has greater negative environmental impact than the petro savings. Neither camp has conclusive evidence of significant benefit or harm and most claims either way seem geared toward marketing rather than ecology. Overall, insulation of almost every type provides greater environmental benefits than costs.

Open-Cell Vs. Closed-Cell

The real distinction between types of foam insulation focuses on whether they are open- or closed-cell. In general, both are made from the same materials and work in the same way, trapping air or gas in a plastic matrix. The differences start with the “blowing agents” used to create bubbles and end with both varied performance and cost.

Open-cell foam costs slightly less for the same thickness, but offers lower per-inch R-values than closed-cell products. In some instances, this is a disadvantage, but where thickness is less relevant, or where higher R-values are not needed, then open-cell can provide the better choice. It also has some green advantages over closed-cell: The blowing agent used to install open-cell insulation is water, which reacts with air to become CO2—while closed-cell products use HFCs.

Because CO2 expands quickly, the bubbles tend to burst before the plastic sets, and hence the “open cells,” which produce a spongy, lightweight foam. The industry describes the foam as “half-pound” material, which simply means the foam has a mass that weighs 0.5 pounds per cubic foot. This density yields an R-value of approximately 3.6 per inch, equivalent to most traditional insulations. Because of the open cell structure, open-cell foam allows some vapor to pass through, making it a good choice in hot, humid climates, and under roof sheathing, such as in conditioned attics, where water vapor caught between insulation and sheathing could promote wood rot.