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A Complete Guide to Attic Spray Foam Insulation

By Chuck Henrichsen on February 21, 2017

Energy efficiency is one of the main concerns for homeowners in the Pacific Northwest and around the country. Because of this, many are looking to remove and replace their current attic insulation with new and effective insulation that helps them reduce costs. However, there are numerous attic insulation methods out there. Each house is unique and has different requirements. Spray foam insulation offers a dynamic option that is suitable for almost any house. At Clean Crawls we have installed spray foam insulation in thousands of attics in Seattle and surrounding areas, and have put together a guide to help homeowners identify if attic spray foam insulation is the best option for their house.

Spray Foam Insulation

How Does Spray Foam Attic Insulation Work?

Attic spray foam insulation is often considered the most effective type of insulation, but how does it actually work? Simply put, spray foam insulation consists of two synthetic materials which, when mixed properly, expand their liquid volume up to 60 times. Spray foam insulation creates a thick layer of powerful thermal insulator, filling all the gaps and cracks in your attic. Because the materials solidify once dry, attic spray foam insulation is completely water-resistant and does not release any particles or allergens into the air. Traditional insulators - like fiberglass - are known to release particles that can cause allergic reactions and respiratory complications.

Types of Attic Spray Foam Insulation

Two types of spray foam insulation can be used for your attic. Both of these can be applied in vertical and horizontal spaces. These are:

Open-Cell Attic Spray Foam Insulation

Open-cell attic spray foam insulation is the least common type found in homes. They are less dense than their closed-cell counterparts, and have lower heat flow resistance (also known as R-Value) as well. Open-cell attic spray foam insulation has a similar application to closed-cell; however, they expand once applied, making them perfect insulation for hard to reach spaces, cavities, and nooks.

Open-cell insulation is a powerful insulator; however, it’s not dense enough to be completely waterproof. This specific type of insulation can be suitable for certain areas, but you shouldn’t apply it to your entire home as it may result in costly repair and replacement jobs.

Closed-Cell Attic Spray Foam Insulation

Closed-cell attic spray foam insulation is the most common type of the two, and is quickly becoming the most popular insulation type in general. Closed-cell insulation is much denser and heavier than single-cell, and has the highest R-value in the market. Because it’s more effective and durable, closed-cell spray foam insulation has a higher price tag than open-cell.

Besides being better at insulating, closed-cell spray foam is water-resistant and will not be damaged by water exposure. Closed-cell spray foam is dense, so when it’s applied to attic walls it also strengthens the structural integrity of your house.

Advantages of Spray Foam Attic Insulation

Installing spray foam insulation has many advantages and benefits, from energy efficiency to healthy living. Here are some of the benefits and advantages of installing spray foam insulation in your house.

Versatile Application

Attic spray foam insulation has a versatile application method, which gives it a significant advantage over traditional options. It can be applied in narrow areas, blocking gaps and cracks that allow heat transfer.

Reduced Energy Consumption

All types of insulation are designed to stop heat transfer and reduce energy cost, but spray foam insulation can cause the biggest impact in comparison to fiberglass and other types of insulation. An average house can lose up to 40% of its energy through heat loss and air filtration, and since spray foam insulation seals off all gaps, it substantially reduces energy costs.

Prevents Air Infiltration

Air infiltration is bad because it carries heat, but it can also force your house to draw up air from the ground. Homes with poor insulation draw up to 40% of their air from the ground, and if the crawl space is not properly insulated or has no vapor barrier, your crawl space will absorb moisture. This can lead to rot, pest infestations, and mold development among other issues.

Stops Vapor and Moisture Transfer (Closed-Cell Insulation Only!)

Your attic can also be affected by high moisture levels, but installing closed-cell spray foam attic insulation will safeguard it from any moisture transfer or damage. Similarly to your crawl space, your attic is prone to harboring pests and developing mold, so keeping moisture levels down is critical to your attic’s well-being.

Increases Comfort Levels

Damp, moist attics are often the source of foul odors and can cause cold floors and other temperature discrepancies. Installing spray foam attic insulation will increase comfort levels for your entire family due to the lack of bad smells, sudden temperature changes, or health risks that may result from moist attics.

Durable Insulation

Spray foam attic insulation is designed to last indefinitely, so it produces fewer used materials or repair costs. Spray foam insulation is dense and will strengthen the structural integrity of your house once it’s applied to your attic walls. Closed-cell insulation is water-resistant as well, so you won’t have to worry about water damage in the winter months.

Setbacks of Spray Foam Attic Insulation

Spray foam attic insulation has a few disadvantages you may want to consider before purchasing:

  • Bigger upfront charge: Spray foam insulation is effective, but it’s also the most expensive type of insulation on the market.
  • It’s a tricky DIY project: Because it requires specific knowledge and delicate materials, DIYers may want to pass on this one and hire a professional.
  • May be time consuming: Spray foam insulation needs to dry before it’s considered safe so, depending on the project, it may take a few hours to install.

Installing Spray Foam Attic Insulation

If you are considering spray foam attic insulation for your house, get in contact with a professional insulation specialist today. At Clean Crawls, we provide spray foam attic insulation services for businesses and homes in the Pacific Northwest. You can reach us at 206.447.9996 or check out our resources page for more information. Contact us now!

Chuck Henrichsen
President and CEO of Clean Crawls, Treasurer of E3 World Wide, proud husband and father.