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.
Spray foam comes in two flavors, open cell and closed cell, and provides both parts of the building envelope - the insulation and the air barrier. The building envelope should completely surround the conditioned space, and the insulation needs to be in contact with the air barrier. Since spray foam is both insulation and air barrier, proper alignment of insulation and air barrier is guaranteed.
There are two main types of spray foam to consider: open-cell and closed-cell. Open-cell spray foam has a lower R-value per inch and because of this, typically a lower price tag. The soft, low-density material is used for interior applications. Its high permeability allows for moisture to pass through, which contributes to bi-directional drying of the assembly, but it may not be ideal for all applications or climates.
Spray Foam Walls
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I am building a house in Central Texas (Caldwell). Several builders are cautious about using foam insulation and/or a closed attic. I would like to use both. Here in Texas, heat and humidity (except for the past few years of drought) are a continuing problem. Which type of foam would be the best to use in our home, where should the vapor barrier be or should be use one at all, if we are using fans in the exterior walls to supply fresh air to the house, do we need a vented attic or will it cause more problems than it solve? I have printed out your article and the blogs to give to my contractors and architect, but I would really appreciate your comments on the products being used in my part of the US. http://kvsprayfoam.com/images/KV-Spray-Foam-Denver-CO.jpg
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.
Spray Foam Insulation is simply the best insulation you can install in your home or building in Texas. It is estimated that up to 40% or more of your home's energy loss is due to air leakage through holes, cracks and gaps in the building structure. SPF can seal your home from air and moisture leakage, save on costly utility bills, strengthen your home, and help to protect your family's health from dangerous mold and airborne pollutants.
My other question was gonna be this. We ripped all the drywall out after Hurricane Harvey and we found some latent termite damage from some time back. One of the common studs in one corner is pretty well eaten to shreds. I was gonna brace it but then I read about more modern framing practices and I read how each stud is a thermal bridge. So now I'm thinking that I won't bother with it because the house hasn't fallen down and the foam might help a little. Unless you say to brace the stud. Then I'll do it, Martin! :)
How Much Is Spray Foam Insulation A Square Foot
Carefully examine the roof membrane (surface material) for cracks, tears, blisters, evidence of ponding, exposed foam, and open seams. If already coated, evaluate the condition of the coating. Pay particular attention to areas around roof penetrations (vents, skylights, pipes, etc), ponding areas, cracks in parapet walls, and the attachment of roof membranes to parapet walls. Roofs should be in good condition to warrant coating.