SPF

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When Spray Foam Goes Bad

Make sure that you hire the installer, not the foam manufacturer or foam brand

Posted on Aug 2 2016 by Greg Labbe

When spray foam goes bad, it’s hard not to feel a bit sick. Sick because this high-performance insulation has a big carbon footprintAmount of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that a person, community, industry, or other entity contributes to the atmosphere through energy use, transportation, and other means. and proper installation is key to its performance. When it’s not installed correctly, it can get expensive for the client, the contractor, and the planet.


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Image Credits:

  1. BlueGreen Consulting Group

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Will This Roof Design Have Problems?

A homeowner questions his architect’s plans for a standing-seam metal roof

Posted on Jul 4 2016 by Scott Gibson

Planning a new house in Climate Zone 6, Chad Kotlarz is reviewing his architect's plans for the roof — and discovers he has a few misgivings.

The unvented roof will be framed with 2x12 rafters, sheathed with plywood and capped with standing-seam metal roofing. Closed-cell spray foam will insulate the rafter bays, and the interior of the cathedral ceiling will be finished with gypsum drywall. An exposed truss with a collar tie provides structural support.


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Image Credits:

  1. dunktanktechnician/ CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

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Air Leakage Through Spray Polyurethane Foam

How thick does a layer of spray foam insulation has to be to qualify as an air barrier?

Posted on Sep 25 2015 by Martin Holladay
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Many builders use spray polyurethane foam as an air barrierBuilding assembly components that work as a system to restrict air flow through the building envelope. Air barriers may or may not act as a vapor barrier. The air barrier can be on the exterior, the interior of the assembly, or both., raising the question: How thick does the spray foam layer have to be to stop air flow? There's a follow-up question, of course: Is the answer different for open-cell spray foam than for closed-cell spray foam?

As with most building science questions, there is a short answer and a long answer. The short answer is that closed-cell spray foam needs to be at least 1 or 1.5 inch thick to act as an air barrier, while open-cell spray foam needs to be between 3.0 and 5.5 inches thick to act as an air barrier.


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Image Credits:

  1. Rick Duncan, Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance

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Flash-and-Batt Insulation

Spray foam between the studs can reduce air leaks, but a continuous layer of exterior rigid foam makes more sense than flash-and-batt

Posted on Sep 11 2015 by Martin Holladay
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Closed-cell spray polyurethane foam insulation has several desirable characteristics. It’s an excellent air barrierBuilding assembly components that work as a system to restrict air flow through the building envelope. Air barriers may or may not act as a vapor barrier. The air barrier can be on the exterior, the interior of the assembly, or both., an excellent vapor retarder, and it has a high insulating value per inch (about R-6). Unfortunately, it’s also expensive.


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Image Credits:

  1. Image #1: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
  2. Image #2: Martin Holladay
  3. Image #3: Fine Homebuilding

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Prepping for Spray Foam

Getting ready for a foam-insulation crew means doing a lot more than you’d think

Posted on May 21 2015 by Michael Chandler
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Spray-foam insulation is gaining popularity these days, and for good reason. Not only does it offer lots of R-valueMeasure of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the lower the heat loss. The inverse of U-factor. per inch, but it also air-seals the house. I’ve been building custom homes in North Carolina for more than 20 years, and I’ve been using spray-foam insulation for the past four. These days, all my projects get 8 in. to 12 in. of foam under the roof deck, and I often use foam to insulate walls and crawlspaces as well.


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Image Credits:

  1. Courtesy of Airtight Insulation

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California’s Mistake Puts Spray Foam Insulation on the Bad List

A state agency's lack of knowledge garners spray polyurethane foam one of the first three spots on the "Priority Products" list

Posted on Apr 1 2015 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD
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Last summer I learned about the state of California's efforts to create more healthful buildings and working conditions. In 2008, they passed the California Green Chemistry Initiative with the intent of reducing state residents' exposure to toxic chemicals.


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Image Credits:

  1. Energy Vanguard

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A New Blowing Agent With a Lower Environmental Impact

Honeywell begins production of a new blowing agent for foam insulation with a lower global warming potential than commonly used agents

Posted on Jan 13 2015 by Scott Gibson

Honeywell says that it has started full-scale production of a refrigerant and insulating agent with an extremely low global warming potential, a development that could make extruded polystyrene (XPSExtruded polystyrene. Highly insulating, water-resistant rigid foam insulation that is widely used above and below grade, such as on exterior walls and underneath concrete floor slabs. In North America, XPS is made with ozone-depleting HCFC-142b. XPS has higher density and R-value and lower vapor permeability than EPS rigid insulation.) and polyurethane foams much more attractive environmentally.


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Image Credits:

  1. Image #1: Peter Yost
  2. Image #2: Honeywell

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The Best Way to Insulate a Floor

A homeowner in Arkansas weighs the benefits of mineral wool batts and sprayed polyurethane foam — but a third option may be the winner

Posted on Jun 2 2014 by Scott Gibson

Jim Wright's house in western Arkansas has a pier foundation that elevates floor framing about 40 inches off the ground. Unlike a house with a basement, crawl space, or slab foundation, there is no enclosure at the bottom of the house, so the floor is more or less like another exterior wall.

How, Wright wonders, should this be insulated?


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Image Credits:

  1. Jim Wright

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Icynene Has a New Foam With a Higher R-Value

The company says its Classic Plus open-cell spray foam will help builders meet requirements of the 2012 building code

Posted on May 19 2014 by Scott Gibson

IcyneneOpen-cell, low-density spray foam insulation that can be used in wall, floor, and roof assemblies. It has an R-value of about 3.6 per inch and a vapor permeability of about 10 perms at 5 inches thick. is now offering a low-density polyurethane foam insulation with a slightly higher R-valueMeasure of resistance to heat flow; the higher the R-value, the lower the heat loss. The inverse of U-factor. , which the company says will help builders meet stricter energy code requirements.

The product is called Icynene Classic Plus. The manufacturer says that the two-part spray foam insulation has an R-value of 4 per inch, compared to R-3.7 per inch for its Classic and Classic Max open-cell foam products.


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Image Credits:

  1. Icynene

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Does Open-Cell Spray Foam Really Rot Roofs?

Researchers from Oak Ridge National Lab have said open-cell spray foam is risky — but what did they miss?

Posted on Apr 23 2014 by Allison A. Bailes III, PhD

Murmurs and hearsay about open-cell spray foam insulation have been gaining traction for a while. It rots roofs, people have told me. Not long ago, someone even told me that in Florida, roofing companies won't let their workers go up on roofs with open-cell spray foam because the roofs are so spongy, the guys fall right through.

Open-cell spray foam is getting a bad reputation among some people in the construction industry. But is it deserved?


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Image Credits:

  1. Energy Vanguard
  2. Building Science Corporation

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