One of the high-tech insulation products being utilized these days is a foam-spray product called "Icynene," which is a foam that starts as two liquid components (a and b, if you will) that are heated up and sent through two hoses and meet at a tip of a gun where the magic begins. This is a thin film that expands to 100 times its volume in eight seconds, when it's permanently set up.
Today’s “third generation” of blowing agents have a GWP of 700 to 1000 which is still remarkably high considering water/CO2 has a GWP of 1. However, innovation from some chemical manufacturers like the Chemours Company have introduced the next generation of HFO blowing agents such as Opteon 1100, which significantly reduces the GWP impact when using closed-cell spray foam insulation products.

How Much To Charge For Spray Foam Insulation


OK, Peter, I finally went back and read Alex Wilson's article on what he perceives as a serious problem. I haven't seen the full report, but based on the summary he wrote on the Green Building Advisor website, I question the science. It seems to me that he's chosen the wrong metric and he's basing his conclusion on too many assumptions because he doesn't have enough data. You can see my comments at the end of his article. http://www.youtube.com/v/ggLAUsiuI_o&feature=share

Although spray foam insulation has been in use since the 1940s, primarily for aircraft, for the past 30 years, continual product innovation has seen the increased adoption of spray foam insulation in residential and commercial construction. The rapid growth of sprayed foam insulation in building construction, thanks in part to its immediate and long-term benefits, has allowed the insulation material to sit confidently alongside traditional insulation types in providing thermal comfort for building occupants.
Allison--would be very interested in your take on the GHG issues of foams, which have received lots of smart commentary recently. To highlight a few: architect Jesse Thompson's comments on Tom's Good vs Bad post on Energy Circle, the very thorough piece by Alex Wilson on Green Building Advisor and Michael Anschel's cautionary diatribe on Remodeling. 
In the case you have above the installer wasn't reading his foam. They must be trained to do that as they spray. Temps and conditions are constantly changing thru out the day. Either he wasn't properly trained or if he was,he wasn't doing his job! This is a serious problem with people jumping in to the foam business. A lot of homeowners and builders are looking the best price and end up with someone who doesn't know what they are doing. Hope this info helps. Foam insulation is a great product. It just has to be done right by someone who knows what they are doing.
Sean, thanks for jumping in and answering John's questions. About choosing the right foam, I intentionally avoided the open cell vs. closed cell foam debate. I did this partly because it's worthy of an article all by itself, but mainly I didn't include it because, despite all the warnings the two sides issue about the other, I've never personally seen a problem caused by using open cell where they should've used closed cell or vice versa. I'm sure things like that happen; I just haven't seen it yet.

If your foam pulled away just a little bit, Jamie, and they were able to fix it with just a little bit of touching up, then it wasn't as bad as the house where I saw this problem. As the last photo above shows, it had pulled away significantly from the studs and rafters, and it was all over the house. This was closed cell foam, and interestingly, it didn't pull away from the horizontal framing members, just the vertical and sloped ones. They did some touch up, but that wasn't enough. I don't know how this one ended up getting resolved. I think maybe the contractor came back and sprayed cellulose on top of the foam. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtube.be&v=ggLAUsiuI_o


OK, Peter, I finally went back and read Alex Wilson's article on what he perceives as a serious problem. I haven't seen the full report, but based on the summary he wrote on the Green Building Advisor website, I question the science. It seems to me that he's chosen the wrong metric and he's basing his conclusion on too many assumptions because he doesn't have enough data. You can see my comments at the end of his article. http://www.youtube.com/v/ggLAUsiuI_o&feature=share


The local foam installer that I used here in Hilton Head told me he looked for some peeling back of the foam. This was ensuring that it was at the perfect temperature which helped them maximize their yield (profit). I have open cell foam and it pulled away a little, and did so immediately (within minutes). They went back after they were done to any spots that pulled away too much and filled them with the touch up kit; they were looking for the top edge to roll just a little bit.  http://m.youtube.com/embed/ggLAUsiuI_o
Simple – we’ve seen experienced contractors work with the separate nitrogen tanks and spray foam rigs and have one heck of a time. These spray foam insulation kits are quick to learn and simple to use. They’re designed to be easy so you get results the very first time you spray. Thorough Instructions, 24/7 Product Support, and videos make it easy to install.

Check with the coating manufacturer who may be able to suggest applicators who have used their products and have familiarity with the application. Another option would be to interview contractors and ask specific questions about their proven ability to install roof coatings. Contractors affiliated with the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) or local roofing contractor trade associations typically are more knowledgeable. Consult those groups’ websites for contractors.
The guys who sprayed my attic were trained and certified, but I later found out, too late, that they had no experience and my attic was the first they'd ever sprayed. I was also never told to vacate my house for any length of time, and so I (and my pets) were in the house the day they sprayed and the entire time the off ratio foam was filling my home with horrendous vapors. The company kept telling me that it was a good job and I had nothing to worry about, even after I'd had 2 other experienced sprayers from 2 different companies visually examine the foam and confirm that large areas appeared to be off ratio. The 3rd sprayer from yet another company, was also outraged because the company who did my attic had failed to vacuum up all of the old cellulose insulation, and he also noticed areas where the foam was shrinking or pulling away, and this was not even 5 weeks after the spraying.  

Spray Foam


For large jobs, professionals such as Dr. Energy Saver use two-part foam, which comes in larger containers. With 2-part spray foam, it's necessary to mix separate resin and catalyst compounds at the application nozzle. Combining these ingredients starts a chemical reaction that creates expanding foam. Contractors use small 2-part foam "kits" to air-seal an attic or to seal and insulate ductwork. To insulate an entire attic or wood-framed wall with spray foam, the resin and catalyst compounds are pumped to the application nozzle from 50-gallon drums in a specially equipped truck.
Yes, you're right that all of the problems mentioned above are related to the installer. I didn't try to hide that and even used the word 'installer' in two of the four headings. I can see how you'd think that the title is misleading, but in the end you can't separate spray foam insulation from its installation. Some people have the mistaken impression that if you get spray foam in your house, your home will outperform all others. My point here is that that's not true.
We had issues with getting this foam to turn green in summertime in the South. We needed up spending an additional $300 on being able to spray this foam: 110 window a/c for shop & a $60 tarp to drape over the top, to keep the temps down. The areas where we had trouble-shooted were sticky & even after we wiped it down, the new green foam wouldn't stick. My husband had to apply Liquid Nails to it. For over $800, I expected alot more, plus the sellers customer service skills were in need of improvement.

Where To Use Spray Foam


Spray foam insulation works by sealing the building envelope to stop conditioned air from escaping and prevent unwanted outside air from entering your home. It allows efficient use of your HVAC system and helps regulate the temperature fluctuations and humidity in your home. It's a lightweight, durable, and versatile insulation solution boasting the industry’s strongest performance in energy efficiency and energy cost savings.
If your foam pulled away just a little bit, Jamie, and they were able to fix it with just a little bit of touching up, then it wasn't as bad as the house where I saw this problem. As the last photo above shows, it had pulled away significantly from the studs and rafters, and it was all over the house. This was closed cell foam, and interestingly, it didn't pull away from the horizontal framing members, just the vertical and sloped ones. They did some touch up, but that wasn't enough. I don't know how this one ended up getting resolved. I think maybe the contractor came back and sprayed cellulose on top of the foam.
Yes, you're right that all of the problems mentioned above are related to the installer. I didn't try to hide that and even used the word 'installer' in two of the four headings. I can see how you'd think that the title is misleading, but in the end you can't separate spray foam insulation from its installation. Some people have the mistaken impression that if you get spray foam in your house, your home will outperform all others. My point here is that that's not true.

Yes, a new roof should be coated if the building owner wants to add a highly reflective roof coating to reduce energy costs. The buyer should be aware of any warranties provided for a new roof that may violate that warranty during the period it is in force via the use of a roof coating. This will extend the roof’s service life. A reflective roof coating will reduce the heat load on the roofing assembly. http://y2u.be/ggLAUsiuI_o
Note: The practice of foam insulating the attic has raised eyebrows in the building industry because "standard" roofing techniques call for the attic to be ventilated; however, in a vented attic situation it will become approximately 130 degrees in the summer. There's no reason for an air-conditioning and vent-ductwork to have to work in that type of severe conditions. By applying Icynene right on the underside of the roof deck, the severe temperatures no longer exist in the attic. In short, the attic is now a "conditioned" space of the house that is just as comfortable as any other room in the home. This is called a "Compact Roof", which means you can frame right up against it. The one drawback of using expanded foam on the inside of the roof is that this will cause the temperature of the shingles to rise, but how much is not yet known. And how much damage a rise in temperatures could cause is debatable.

Spray polyurethan foam does effectly prevent all six of these heat transfer methods from occurring. These should be the mechanisms by which you judge insulation, in addition to their R-Value. If you're uncertain about installing spray foam insulation, Energy Star has a map that recommends levels of insulation by R-value and cost-effectiveness in the United States.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggLAUsiuI_o&feature=kp

I used this for the rim-joist in our home. A couple things: I put 1in solid core foam (cut to size) in each bay before using the spray foam. I also was able to do a relatively 'thick' spray to close off any potential gaps that may have existed. I turned off the HVAC and turned on some fans in the windows to exhaust out the fumes, and wore a mask (3m respirator).
Silicone coatings are typically produced by adding a catalyst and solvents to a silicone base. Because the silicone is a natural material, these coatings are bio-degradable. They can be applied to a roofing system using many different techniques, including spraying or rolling. Silicone coatings are available in many colors, including reflective white and translucent.
Thank you, Allison. We have a split system unit (actually 5) with the heat being propane. The foam guy said that it needed ventilation, so completely sealing the attic wouldn't be a good idea. It sounds like you are saying that the systems need to be vented out of the attic or replaced with some type of closed system. But I shouldn't bother spraying if the plan is to leave the soffet vents open. Is that correct?

That’s $58.3 Billion dollars. That’s roughly how much money we wasted in 2010 in the US according to the Department of Energy because of air leaking out of our building envelopes. If your building leaks energy, you’re paying more for energy than you need to. Clearly you’re not alone. If you’re ready to claim your share of the savings, it’s quicker and easier than you think.

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