The best protection for your home
Spray-in-place polyurethane foam insulation represents a major innovation in energy efficiency and home construction quality. Spray foam insulation has enjoyed a long and successful track record in residential home construction.
How Does Spray-in-Place Insulation Work?
Foam insulation is a two-part liquid that is sprayed in place by specially trained and experienced spray foam insulation contractors. The liquid mixture expands quickly foaming up to fill all gaps and voids in your home’s exterior walls, ceilings, roofs floors or crawl spaces. It cures to form a fully adhered, solid, monolithic micro-cellular insulation envelope.
We use NCFI polyurethane spray-on insulation it sets up as a rigid product. It is sprayed directly onto the back of the sheathing and sticks to it, swelling to 25 times its liquid volume. The foam itself is filled with microscopic bubbles. Since air molecules transport heat energy rapidly from the warm wall to the cold wall, the goal is to stop them or impede their movement with a web of cells inside the insulation. This insulation is also enhanced with Enovate, a Honeywell chemical that is added to the spray to create a new, slower, larger molecule that moves inefficiently to pick up and transfer heat. Heat transfer is therefore retarded in two ways, making for an extremely high insulation value. The foam comes as a two-part product, delivered as a liquid from two drums that mix the components through a sprayer. The liquid is sprayed at a very high pressure, about 2,000 pounds per square inch, to mix the chemical with the hardener and deliver it to the building cavity.
A two-part mixture is applied by trained professionals to the inside surface of exterior walls, to the underside of the roof, and beneath floors in basements and crawl spaces. The spray mixture expands rapidly to fill all cracks and voids, completely and permanently adhering to wood, masonry, metal studs and joists.
When can spray foam be installed?
Spray foam insulation is professionally installed at the same point in the construction cycle as other types of insulation. That is, it should be installed after the rough plumbing, electrical wiring, and heating and air conditioning ducts have been installed, but before the interior walls are completed in new home construction. In some cases spray foam also can be applied in older homes, to the inside of roofs and under floors after construction has been completed.
What types of spray foam products are available?
There are two basic types: closed-cell, rigid spray foam (like our InsulStar® product), and “soft” or semi-flexible open-cell spray foams (like our Sealite™ product). See the article Learning the Difference between 1/2-lb and 2-lb Spray Polyurethane Foam for more information.
Which is better, closed or open cell?
Both systems offer significant advantages over fiberglass batting: ability to air seal; ability to fill cracks and conform to odd shaped cavities; and ability to hold their shape over time and under adverse conditions. But only closed-cell foam has the thermal insulation value (R-value) to bring your home up to Energy Star® standards with only one-half the thickness required for fiber insulations. In addition, closed-cell foam products increases the strength of you wall system (it's approximately doubled) and increase the water resistance of your home's exterior.
How does closed-cell spray foam provide moisture protection, yet still breathe?
Unlike cellulose and fiberglass materials, closed-cell foam is impervious to water absorption and wicking. Yet, like Gortex® fabric, the closed-cell structure allows the passage of water vapor (high energy particles) to allow your home envelope to “breathe”. Liquid water has much larger particles and is unable to pass into or through a closed-cell foam barrier.
What innovative energy saving techniques does spray polyurethane foam allow?
1. You won’t need house wrap with NCFI spray insulation. The air and moisture sealing effects of the spray polyurethane insulation are far superior to what house wraps can do. Don’t waste your money on house wrap if you are insulating with spray polyurethane.
2. You can encapsulate your entire exterior house shell with spray polyurethane. In effect, this creates conditioned space everywhere–including attics, basements, and crawl spaces. When ductwork is run through these areas, it is kept within conditioned space, substantially increasing the energy efficiency of your home. This reduces energy loss from recessed lights and drop ceilings while minimizing any chance of frozen pipes in colder climates.
3. Spray polyurethane insulation will conform to any size or shape cavity. Bay windows, oval windows, angled walls, sloped ceilings, or any other unusual framing designs can be well insulated and tightly sealed the same as the uniform spaced stud walls.
CAUTION: Do not try these insulation techniques with conventional glass fiber batts or blown-in cellulose.
What’s a "thermal barrier" and when is it needed?
A thermal barrier is a covering on the surface of the spray polyurethane insulation which will protect it for at least 15 minutes in the event of a fire. ½-inch gypsum wall board, such as Sheetrock®, is an approved 15 minute thermal barrier.
Building codes require the installation of a thermal barrier between foam plastics (such as spray polyurethane insulation) and any occupied space. Exceptions apply in some cases; review local codes and/or confer with your local building code officials.
The building code provides for an exception to the thermal barrier requirement in attics and crawl spaces where entry is made only for the service of utilities. In such cases, the spray polyurethane insulation must be protected from ignition. NYSF offers Aldocoat 757 , a spray-on ignition barrier coating for these areas.
How does the NCFI spray polyurethane insulation seal my house?
NCFI spray polyurethane insulation is sprayed on as a liquid which reacts and expands in place. This expansion action also seals all of the cracks and crevasses in your wall’s exterior sheathing. The result is that air can no longer slip in: your house will be less drafty and more comfortable.
Air leakage can also introduce moisture into the wall cavity, resulting in wet insulation and mold and mildew. With the sealing effects of NCFI spray polyurethane insulation, this will not be a concern.
Won’t sealing my house lead to indoor air quality problems?
Your house does need to be ventilated. Most house design professionals will advise you to seal the house structure as tight as possible and provide the necessary ventilation through the heating and air conditioning system. Many systems employ an "air exchanger" which is designed to pre-condition (either warm or cool) the incoming outside air with the outgoing exhaust air. In this manner, you can build an extremely energy efficient exterior shell using spray polyurethane foam while still providing controlled and energy efficient ventilation.
Is spray polyurethane insulation code approved?
Yes. Building codes provide for the use of spray polyurethane insulation in the Foam Plastic section. This section of the code also describes the use of thermal barriers.
At what point in the construction of my house should spray polyurethane insulation be applied?
Normally spray polyurethane insulation is installed at the same point in the construction cycle as other types of insulation. That is, it should be installed after the rough plumbing, electrical wiring, and heating and air conditioning ducts have been installed. If you decide to seal the entire exterior house shell with spray polyurethane, spray insulation may need to be applied in some areas before the ductwork is installed.
Can I use NCFI spray polyurethane to insulate an existing home?
Spray polyurethane insulation is used primarily to insulate new homes. This is because spray polyurethane must be applied to an open cavity. When spray polyurethane is injected into a closed wall cavity, the pressure of the expanding insulation may damage the wall.
Consider insulating an existing home with spray polyurethane when you’re replacing the exterior siding or doing other major remodeling.
How does spray polyurethane insulation compare with glass fiber batts and blown-in cellulose?
1. Glass fiber batts will not stop air leakage (it might filter out some dirt and dust). Blown-in cellulose will slow down air leakage. Spray polyurethane insulation will stop air leakage . . . dead.
2. Glass fiber batts have an R-value of about 3.5 (1-inch thickness). Blown-in cellulose has an R-value of about 3 to 4 (1-inch thickness). Spray applied polyurethane insulation has an R-value of 6.5 to 7 (1-inch thickness).
3. Glass fiber batts can sag over time; blown-in cellulose can settle over time: both situations leave sections uninsulated and you’ll feel colder because of it. Spray polyurethane insulation completely adheres to wood and sheathing and is rigid; the result is a permanent barrier to heat loss and air entry.
4. Spray polyurethane insulation will add strength and rigidity to your house. Glass fiber batts and blown-in cellulose will not..
Will I save money if I insulate with NCFI spray polyurethane insulation?
Yes! The installed cost of spray polyurethane is somewhat higher than glass fiber batts or blown-in cellulose. However, the higher initial cost is partially offset because you can leave off the house wrap and your heating and air conditioning equipment can be smaller.
You will save in your heating fuel and electric bills. Studies suggest that homes insulated with spray polyurethane use up to 40 % less energy than homes insulated with conventional insulation. Your savings may be greater or less depending on your life style, appliances, house site, number and size of windows, etc. One home owner from Colorado Springs reported the following to us:"
We live at 8,000 feet above sea level and have been through some severely cold winters. In our old house, which was 2,600 square feet and insulated with 3 ½-inch batts, our winter gas heating bill was about $130 per month. Our new house has 6,000 square feet of living area and 3 inches of spray foam in the walls. Our highest monthly winter gas bill has been $80. One of the main differences was the lack of drafts in our new home."
Will spray polyurethane insulation lose R-value over time?
When first installed, spray polyurethane foam’s R-value is about 10 for a one-inch thickness. Over time, the R-value drops to between 6.5 and 7.0 (one inch) and stabilizes at that value. The time it takes to reach an R-value of 6.5 to 7.0 depends on a variety of factors, including total foam thickness. We report a six-month aged R-value. Many industry studies indicate that a one-inch thick sample of foam will stabilize after six months and maintain that approximate R-value for decades.
Can spray polyurethane insulation be applied directly to electrical wiring? What about installed electrical devices like recessed lights?
Spray polyurethane can be applied directly to electrical wiring. Recessed lights or other fixtures may require a certain amount of air circulation around them for cooling purposes. In these cases, a box can be build around the fixture with gypsum wall board; then spray foam can be sprayed directly to the outside of the box.
Will spray polyurethane insulation deteriorate over time?
Not that we’re aware of. We’ve looked at 20-year old spray foam projects and we have not observed any signs of deterioration. We expect the NCFI spray polyurethane insulation system to insulate and seal your home for the life of the house.
How long has spray polyurethane been used to insulate houses?
Spray polyurethane foam was commercially developed in the United States in the mid-1960's. Homes have been insulated with spray foam since that time.
What smells does spray polyurethane insulation produce in my home?
A slight odor will be present during installation of spray polyurethane insulation. This will rapidly dissipate after the spraying operation stops. After that, the installed spray polyurethane insulation will be odorless.
Will spray polyurethane insulation absorb or entrap moisture?
Most moisture problems in houses are due to moisture entry from air leakage. Because spray polyurethane insulation provides such an excellent air barrier, this source of moisture is virtually eliminated. Other potential sources of moisture can be excluded with proper construction techniques and materials. Unusual building use (such as freezers or swimming pool buildings) may require a vapor retarder. Contact NCFI regarding your specific situation if you have any questions.
Does spray polyurethane foam contain formaldehyde?
Can a homeowner apply spray polyurethane insulation?
Not practically. Spray polyurethane application requires complex equipment and a skilled installer.
Will spray polyurethane insulation strengthen my house?
Yes! NCFI InsulStar® foam is rigid and structural. Your walls will be more resistant to winds and you’ll notice less creaking and shaking when doors are slammed or when the kids are romping about. See our web page on Wall Strength for more information.
How long does it take to install spray polyurethane insulation?
Quite quickly. A typical house can be fully insulated with spray polyurethane in a day or less. Large houses or houses with complex design features could take longer.