Spay foam was accidentally invented in 1937 by Otto Bayer when he successfully synthesized polyurethane foam by mixing wet chemicals to create dry foam. It was not until 1979 that spray foam was first used as building insulation. Today NASA insulates the space shuttle and fuel tanks with 2-pound spray foam insulation to strengthen the shuttle and protect it from heat.
Different types of foam insulation are used around central Texas as a seamless flat roof coating, for raising concrete slabs, in wall cavities, and attics.
What is spray foam made of?
This insulator is produced by mixing two liquids isocyanate and polyol resin in the tip of a spray gun. It expands in seconds to 30-100 times its liquid size.
According to the US Department of Energy, 40% of a building’s energy escapes from air infiltration via windows, walls, and doorways. Foam is a stronger air barrier and thermal barrier. It is a better energy efficiency insulator than any other popular green insulation material.
Why spray foam insulation is best?
Spray foam works to block all 3-types of heat transfer found in Austin Texas:
1. Conductive: the flow of heat through a material to a lower or higher temperature area.
2. Radiant: heat in the form of light warms a surface and is transferred to other materials.
3. Convective: heat is transferred via air or water, which is blocked by air sealing a building.
How safe is spray foam?
Foam is non-toxic after it is cured which (when sprayed properly) only takes a few minutes. However, buildings should not be inhabited for 24-48 hours after insulation installation because of vapors still inside the air tight building envelope. For this reason applicators wear full face respiratory protection systems just like professional painters do when spray painting.
Which spray foam insulation type is best for your project?
You can easily choose one foam versus the other when considering the usage and structural application:
Open Cell: is primarily used in homes walls, attics, and basements. The foam reduces air and noise penetration. It protects against moisture, improves air quality, but is not as strong as…
Closed Cell: is the ultimate insulator. It is typically used in commercial construction, industrial, and agricultural environments. Closed cell foam is what is used for commercial flat roof coatings and concrete foundation raising. This foam generally weighs 2-pounds per board foot (12” x 12” x 1”) which is 4-times heavier than open cell insulation foam. 2-poound foam is used to greatly strengthen and waterproof inside barns and on top of flat roofs.
What is the R-value?
The R-value of foam varies. Each manufacturer has a certain R-value assigned to each product they create. For example Icynene insulation has one value while Demilec will vary slightly. Second, the value can change if it is not sprayed according to the manufacturers specifications. Untrained applicators rarely achieve the proper thermal resistance.
Next, what is the density of the foam? Is it half-pound, one-pound, or two-pound foam? For example open-cell (half-pound) foam generally has an value around R-3.5, whereas closed-cell (two-pound) foam is around R-7. Your professional applicator should provide you a full manufacturer’s specification sheet on the product you buy.
Where to buy spray foam insulation products? How much does it cost?
Cans of Foam
- Cost Per (12″ x 12″ x 1″): Extremely High
- Volume Discount: Almost None
- Install Time: Evening Project
- Learn Time: 5-minutes
- Work Quality: Good Potential
- Install Quality: Very Good
- Energy Costs Savings: Worthwhile
Low Pressure Kits
Low-pressure polyurethane foam kits can be bought online and allow you install insulation in small areas. The kits often cost as much as a you would have to spend on having a professional come out. So you may not have much cost saving. It depends on how small your project is. If you need more than one kit, you are probably better off consulting a professional applicator. Generally sold in 40-pound containers.
- Cost Per (12″ x 12″ x 1″): Very High
- Volume Discount: Small
- Install Time: Slow Weekend Project
- Learn Time: 4-8 Hours
- Work Quality: Varies Greatly
- Install Quality: Needs Improvement
- Energy Bills Savings: Questionable
Professional Austin spray foam insulation contractors will have a minimum spend of several hundred dollars because of their cost to come out, and more importantly their opportunity lost cost on doing a small project versus a larger one. However, you should get an estimate from a pro if you are need a couple walls sprayed. When buying a couple walls or more of foam, it is most often less expensive to have a pro install it. Yes, cheaper to hire professional residential insulation installers versus doing-it-yourself. I’ll explain why in the next section that talks about how much foam you need. Installer buys in bulk with a set (2) of 500-pound drums. Sold to you based on the project install scale, difficulty, and a dozen other factors. The simple answer is to get a quote.
- Cost Per (12″ x 12″ x 1″): Much Lower
- Volume Discount: Significant
- Install Time: None of Your Time
- Learn Time: None of Your Time
- Work Quality: Good to Great
- Install Quality: Good to Great
- Utility Bills Savings: Great to Excellent
How much spray foam do I need in central Texas?
Residential building codes in Texas require foam to be about 4 inches thick. So 1-square foot would equal 4-board feet of material needed. If you have a wall that is 10-feet long by 8-feet tall, your have 80-square feet that needs coverage. To install 4-board feet of foam on an 10′ x 8’wall would require 320-board feet of foam.
To estimate the amount needed for your project add up the square feet of all walls you want foamed. Interior walls can be foamed for sound-proofing. Be sure to count the square footage of all exterior walls as well as the roof for a attic insulation system.
If you have more than a 10′ x 8′ wall to be foamed, you should call a professional installer for an estimate. With spray foam it is usually much more expensive to do it yourself than to hire a pro. This is because insulation contractors have a lot of buying power. Each $100,000 rig can install 1,000-3,000-pounds of foam per day. At that rate they can buy and install the foam for less than you can buy a 40-pound DIY container.
How to install spray foam?
You can get cutting edge training on how to install foam from the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance. This is leading training organization for applicators. All of our applicators either have certifications from SPFA, are doing continuing education, or are in the process of advancing their career with SPFA. You can learn more about installing foam by visiting their site. After being exposed to overwhelming process of properly installing foam, you will most likely be asking; who installs spray foam insulation Austin?
When to install insulation?
Send the blueprints to your prospective insulation contractor as early in the process as possible for an initial estimate. Once the project is “in the dry” the installer should come out to double-check the bid and adjust for any changes made. Confirm dates for the install. Insulation is applied after the plumbing, electrical, and HVAC are set up and inspections passed, but before drywall is installed.
Retrofit (Existing Homes, Remodels)
Need to add or replace insulation in your attic, walls, or garage? There are multiple solutions available depending on your needs. You should get an estimate and discuss the details on when to install with a qualified pro. There are many questions to answer depending on your situation, problem and needed results. For example: Will spray foam fix the problem you are experiencing? Do you really just need a Building Energy Performance Diagnostic Audit instead?
Exposed (Metal Barns, Agriculture, Flat Roofs)
Insulating a barn, or other structure with open exposed walls, free of drywall? This type of application can be treated like new construction if there is no concern about the foam expanding an cracking drywall. Likewise, flat roof foam coatings and agricultural applications can be installed whenever you desire since there are not building inspections that need completing before the install.
What does spray foam insulation cost in Austin TX?
Check out my FREE guide on that reveals what Austin area people paid for spray foam and average cost categorized by project type. Read more about the Cost Comparison Report.
Start the upgrade process!
Call 512-520-0044 to schedule your Energy Performance Diagnostic Audit. OR Download the Ultimate Insulation Buyer’s Guide and 6-Bonus Reports.