Spray Foam Insulation Cost
When properly installed, spray polyurethane foam (SPF) or spray foam insulation performs better than any other type of insulation in terms of sealing air gaps and providing a tight temperature seal. Indeed, choosing spray foam insulation for your home has the potential to save you thousands of dollars in energy costs over the years. The value of choosing spray foam insulation rests on the initial costs compared to the potential savings.
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National Install Spray Foam Insulation Costs
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Table of Contents
- Spray Foam Insulation Cost
- Types of Spray Foam Insulation
- Where to Use Spray Foam Insulation
- R-Value & Insulating Capacity
- Advantages of Spray Foam Insulation
- Disadvantages of Spray Foam Insulation
- Installing Spray Foam Insulation
- Find A Pro
Spray Foam Insulation Cost
The average cost of applying spray foam insulation is $1,879, with most homeowners reporting costs between $1,024 and $2,948. That breaks down to anywhere from $0.35 to $2 per board foot installed.
Like any project or insulation type, the specific cost of spray insulation varies greatly according to the size of your home or room. There’s more to applying spray foam insulation, however, because you may need your installer to add more than one layer of insulation to meet your home's energy needs. Each layer of spray foam is one inch thick, and most spray foam insulation installation prices are based on the number of layers of one inch of foam you need in a given space.
The standard measurement used for spray insulation, called a board foot, is the same as 144 cubic inches, or a 1-foot by 1-foot by 1-inch area. Therefore, if you only need one inch of spray insulation for a space, your board feet are equal to your square feet. On the other hand, if you need several inches of insulation, you may have to double or triple the square footage estimate to arrive at an adequate number of board feet for your needs. This makes comparing spray foam insulation costs to other forms of insulation, measured in square feet alone, rough.
For example, applying one 1-inch layer of spray foam insulation that costs $1 per board foot to a 500sf space would cost around $500. This cost is similar compared to fiberglass batting, which costs between $0.64 and $1.19 per square foot, or between $300 and $500 for 500sf of insulation. However, if you need three layers of spray insulation, or 1,500 bd. ft., for a 50sf room, the cost triples to $1,500.
Types of Spray Foam Insulation
There are two main types of spray foam insulation that offer you different performance benefits and price points.
Open Cell Spray Foam Insulation
Open-cell spray foam insulation is the lighter-weight and less-expensive insulation option. At a density of ½-lb. per cubic foot, open-cell spray foam insulation provides a light, springy barrier known for its sound-dampening capabilities. Open-cell foam forms an efficient air barrier and insulation layer that’s best applied indoors only.
Closed Cell Spray Foam Insulation
The more expensive spray foam insulation option, closed cell, is denser, as its name implies. It’s four times denser, in fact, coming in at 2 lbs. per cubic foot. Because of this thick, glue-like structure, closed-cell insulation provides a much higher R-value per inch while providing a water vapor-resistant seal. As a result, closed cell spray foam is a more common choice for outdoor applications and flood-prone areas.
Where to Use Spray Foam Insulation
One of the advantages of choosing spray foam insulation over other insulation, such as fiberglass batting, is that spray foam insulation naturally conforms to spaces, custom-fitting each nook and cranny of your home. Popular spaces for spray foam insulation application therefore include:
- Attics: Applied near ducts, at the roofline or on the floor, spray foam can seal up the envelope of your home or improve temperatures in your living space.
- Basements: Here, the insulation seals pipes and ducts, ceilings and areas between finished walls and the foundation floor. In basements, spray foam insulation works as a primary insulator or as a means to keep your main house at a more consistent temperature.
- HVAC System: Because it forms to fit a space, using spray foam insulation around pipes in your heating or air conditioning system reduces air loss and improves efficiency.
- Windows & Doors: Another application area where the conformation of spray foam provides an advantage is around windows and doorframes. It’s easy to spray around windows and doors to get an airtight seal.
R-Value & Insulating Capacity
In residential and commercial construction, an "R-value" is a simple number used to express a complex concept: the ability of a particular material to resist heat flow at a particular thickness. In theory, the higher this number is, the better insulated a space will be. Without getting into the technical details of what R-value means in real terms or how you derive it, suffice it to say that, as a homeowner, you need to insulate at a particular R-value set by the U.S. Department of Energy. They determine this value based on the climate in your area.
The R-value of spray foam insulation is generally considered quite high for its density, which is what makes it such an energy-efficient choice for your home. However, the R-value of open cell spray foam insulation is lower than that of closed cell insulation. Their average R-values are 3.6 per inch and 6.5 per inch, respectively.
Advantages of Spray Foam Insulation
Spray foam insulation is well known as an energy-efficient insulation choice that can help you save money on your electric and heating bills for years. In fact, according to the Department of Energy, certain types of spray foam insulation offer two times the R-value per inch as traditional fiberglass batt insulation. This is especially important when you consider that upwards of 40% of home energy loss comes as a result of poor insulation.
Another huge advantage of spray foam insulation is its moldability, which allows it to conform to the shape of irregular areas and provide an air barrier in even the tightest of spaces. This makes it an especially helpful tool in HVAC applications and other oddly shaped spaces.
Finally, closed cell spray foam insulation has the unique advantage of being a water barrier as well as an air seal. As a result, it protects building exteriors from moisture penetration, which can lead to mold and mildew formation.
Disadvantages of Spray Foam Insulation
The biggest drawback of spray foam insulation is its potential toxicity during application. While many high-quality spray foam insulations have fixed this issue, lower-quality brands can cause respiratory problems among some people, particularly if they apply the insulation without proper protection such as goggles, a breathing mask and a Tyvek suit. Problems connected to these low-quality insulation brands include eye and respiratory irritation and digestive distress. In a small number of cases, individuals may develop a condition called hypersensitivity pneumonitis.
While these health problems are reduced or eliminated with high-quality products and proper application techniques, there are also a few notable problems that may occur from an energy-saving and home improvement standpoint if the blown-in insulation isn’t installed correctly. These include:
- Uneven application, leading to spots with too little insulation and others with too much
- Insufficient coverage of the area so that there are spots with no insulation at all, leading to air leaks
- Failure to properly identify the building envelope, which can lead to areas of thermal bypass and affect energy efficiency
- Improperly mixed chemicals or foam applied outside of the recommended temperature range, which leads to contraction of the foam and air leaks
These issues with the application of spray foam insulation highlight the importance of hiring a professional contractor. If you’re doing this as a DIY project, you need to follow all steps and take all necessary precautions when applying the spray foam.
Installing Spray Foam Insulation
The basic process of creating and installing spray foam insulation involves using a high-pressure nozzle with two separate chemical tubes. The chemicals get mixed together in the nozzle, forming a foam as they exit the system. Proper installation of the foam therefore relies on precise mixing of these chemicals and then an even distribution of the foam over the surface of your home. Experience is essential when it comes to this process because the proper chemical mixture and conditions make a huge difference in the quality and effectiveness of the insulation.
For these reasons, installing spray foam insulation is really a job best left to the pros. They have specialized trucks and equipment made to carry and mix the chemicals as well as the necessary experience in applying them.
Find A Pro
If you’re ready to hire a professional contractor to install your spray foam insulation or consult on the best insulation options for your home, be sure to check out our free lead generator. We’ll put you in contact with pros in your area today who can assist you in insulating your home or addition.
Last updated on Oct 5, 2016
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