Spray polyurethane foam insulation performs very well, but it’s expensive. Spray foam contractors who bid on insulation jobs—especially those who install enough spray foam to meet the minimum prescriptive code requirements for R-value—know that their customers will get sticker shock.
Spray foam installers have used a variety of approaches to tackle this basic marketing challenge. While some of these approaches have been ethical, others have been based on misleading statements or outright fraud. Most of these marketing tactics start by trying to convince homeowners, builders, or naïve building inspectors that it’s possible to get away with installing spray foam with a lower R-value than is required by prescriptive tables in most building codes.
Companies that have used questionable marketing approaches range in size from small contractors like like J. Anderson Insulation of Belleville, Illinois (as explained in my 2019 article, “Another Deceptive Letter About Spray Foam R-Values”) to industry giants like Icynene (as explained in my 2015 article, “It’s OK to Skimp On Insulation, Icynene Says”).
Spray foam marketers often argue that fiberglass-insulated homes tend to have higher rates of air leakage than homes insulated with spray foam. The main problem with this argument is that modern building codes have established mandatory airtightness targets for new homes, regardless of what type of insulation is installed. These days, building codes insist that new homes be tested with a blower door, and that fiberglass-insulated homes achieve exactly the same maximum air leakage targets as spray-foam-insulated homes.
“How can I compete with the cheap cost of fibrous insulation?”
The latest company to join the spray foam rogues’ gallery is the Energy Modeling Agency in Gilbertsville, Pennsylvania, a consulting firm that produces and sells reports based on energy modeling software. (GBA readers were first alerted to claims made by the…