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.

In short, open-cell foam, tested in accordance with ASTM E 283, provides an air barrier with vapor breathability. Water-blown solutions have less environmental impact than the current HFCs used for most closed-cell spray-foam insulation. And open-cell has about twice the noise reduction coefficient in normal frequency ranges as closed-cell foam. Because the blowing agent in open-cell insulation dissipates as it sets, instead of slowly over time, there is no degeneration of the R-value—a minor point given aged closed-cell R-values still trump open-cell R-values by a magnitude of nearly 100%.

Unlike open-cell foam, closed-cell foam uses chemical blowing agents that come in liquid form and become gasses as they are applied. These gasses expand, but not as quickly as CO2, allowing the polyurethane plastic to set before the bubbles burst. This yields dense foam weighing nearly 2 pounds per cubic foot, and without the capillary characteristics of open-cell, it remains impermeable. The blowing agents used perform like the inert gasses between the panes of high-performance windows, adding to the insulating qualities of the foam. Unlike open-cell foam, closed-cell foam rarely requires any trimming, with little or no jobsite waste.

Closed-cell has more obvious advantages over open-cell, and a slightly higher price tag (20% to 30% for the same thickness). It provides both a vapor and air barrier and offers an aged R-value of a whopping 6.5 per inch. Because of its density and glue-like consistency, it remains very strong, providing both compressive and tensile strength to structure comparable to added sheathing, increasing the racking strength of walls by as much as 300%, according to the NAHB Research Center. Because water does not penetrate or degrade the product, FEMA recommends closed-cell foam as a suitable insulation material for flood regions.

The principle disadvantage of closed-cell foam comes with overkill. If you do not require the extra vapor barrier, structural strength, and R-value per inch, then you may be wasting money. As for the added wall strength, while real and substantial, it’s not acknowledged by building codes currently, so you can’t reduce the structural bracing as a tradeoff.

Environmental Tradeoffs

With the phase outs of chlorine-based chemicals, third-generation blowing agents such as Forane’s HFC-365mfc and Honeywell’s HFC-245fa have become widely used in closed-cell foam, lowering concerns about ozone depletion. Although it no longer contains ozone-depleting chemicals, closed-cell foam still poses a high global warming potential (GWP). The average impact of today’s closed-cell foam blowing agents approaches 1,000 GWP versus 1 GWP for water-blown open-cell foam.

A recent article in Environmental Building News argues against using HFC-blown closed-cell insulation due to its high GWP. In computer modeling referenced by EBN, the results showed that closed-cell spray-foam insulation using HFCs can have lifetime GWP payback lengths of as much as 30 to 60 years with insulation depths from 1 to 4 inches, versus less than one year in all cases for cellulose.

Manufacturer BASF says that the article doesn’t take into account the air tightness achieved in a home with closed-cell spray-foam insulation, arguing that the comparative performance advantages of this type of foam in reducing home energy consumption over the lifetime of the product outweigh imbalances at the manufacturing and installation stage. The manufacturer says a third party–verified Eco Efficiency Analysis of its closed-cell polyurethane spray foam (which factored in the production, use, and disposal phases) shows that cellulose insulation has more than twice the GWP than its closed-cell product over its lifecycle; the GWP for fiberglass was four times greater over its lifecycle.