Eco friendly spray foam insulation: A guide for homeowners

Nowadays, common construction material like steel and concrete are slowly becoming scarce. Furthermore, these are also bad for the environment. During their production as well as after their use, they cause too much environmental waste. Therefore, it is necessary that we look for other alternatives. Scientists from all around the world are coming up with many new construction materials. Ideally, these materials should have three major properties. First, they should last very long. Second, their manufacturing should not cause too much of emissions. Third, once they are out of use, they shouldn’t become waste. Spray foam insulation satisfies all three criteria. Let us see how we use it.

Read More: How recycled concrete helps in sustaining the environment

Eco friendly spray foam insulation

Spray foam is a type of insulation that is sprayed into place by a gun. The two main compounds polyurethane and Isocyanate foams react together at the tip of the spray gun to produce the final compound. The foam is sprayed on the surface to be insulated into wall cavities of finished and unfinished walls and even into holes and crevasses without cracking the walls.

Energy saving

We are discussing here the various facts about spray foam, their advantages, their impact on the environment and finally the various steps that should be followed while applying spray foam.

Facts about spray foam

Spray foam is a mixture of two compounds, polyurethane and isocyanate foam. The two compounds meet and react at the tip of the spray gun where they combine to produce a foam. This foam is sprayed on the surface to be insulated and into wall cavities. As the foam surrounds, the concrete fills up the wall cavities and it insulates the interior of the house from the external environment.

The amount of heat that is retained within the house depends upon the thermal resistance to heat flow of the insulating material. Thermal resistance to heat flow is measured by R-value. Polyurethane has an R-value of R-7 to R-8 per inch of insulation in comparison to fiberglass having an R-value of R-2 to R-4.

Polyurethane contains a high conductivity gas in its cell structure. The presence of this gas gives it a high resistance to heat flow.


Spray foam insulation is of two types:

1. Open cell foam insulation:

In this type, the tiny cells are not closed. This uses less chemicals and so it is less expensive. It has a spongy appearance and is a good air barrier and it is a good water vapor barrier. Furthermore, it also has many indoor applications.

Open cell insulation

2. Closed cell foam insulation:

This is much more expensive than open cell as it is more dense and has a more compact cell structure. It is a good air as well as water vapor barrier. It is used mostly in roofing and outdoor projects but can be used anywhere in the house.

Closed cell insulation

Why go for spray foam?

Spray foam insulated building

1. Energy Efficient:

Spray foam insulation is one of the most energy efficient products that a home owner can install. Around 40% of the homes energy is lost due to leakage of air through walls, doors and windows. Spray foam insulated buildings insulate as much as 50% better than buildings insulated with traditional insulation materials such as fiber glass. A home owner with a spray foam insulated home can lower his heating and cooling usage by 50-60%, severely cutting down on the energy bill.

2. Acts as a barrier:

Spray foam insulation also acts as a water vapor barrier preventing moisture in the atmosphere to produce mold. The likelihood of rotting wood within the building is also reduced. A properly spray foam insulated home prevents the formation of molds and mold spores which lead to allergic reactions and often asthma.

Apart from acting as an air and water vapor barrier, spray foam insulation can also act as a barrier to air-borne sound that is transmitted through the buildings roofs, floor and walls.

Do it yourself

Applying spray foam insulation yourself has the advantage that it will save you valuable time and money, but also runs the risk of damaging property, if not applied properly.

The job is similar to a spray paint job, all you need to do is buy yourself a spray foam installation kit. It is advised to always wear goggles and safety gloves before starting.

Spray foam insulation process


Equipment required

  1. Spray foam insulation kit
  2. Safety goggles
  3. Gloves
  4. Bullet heater
  5. Wrench


Step-1: Check temperature:

Check the temperature of the surface on which the foam is to be applied and the temperature of the foam tank. Make sure that they are both at the same temperature of 60 to 80ºF. If the temperature of the tank is cool, then heat it with the bullet heated, if it is too hot then wait for the tank to cool down.

Step-2: Prepare the area:

Clean the surface and remove any dust or debris. Presence of dust and debris will prevent the foam from sticking properly.

Step-3: Prepare the equipment:

Use the wrench to attach the provided spray hose to the foam tank. Open the valves by turning them anticlockwise.

Step-4: Apply foam:

Spray a thin layer of foam on the surface you want to insulate.

Step-5: Let the foam dry:

After application, let the foam dry for 20 to 30 minutes. During this time, the foam will expand and rise.This completes the application process.

Step-6: Check for missed spots:

The next step is to check for missed spots. Missed spots will result in poor insulated area. If you have discovered any missed spot, then respray that spot as you would normally do.

Step-7: Clean-up:

After the job is done shut off the valves and detach the hose. Store the machine and the hose in some place where animals and children cannot reach. The left over chemicals, if any can be used for future spray foam projects. Always check the expiration date of the chemicals. Store the chemicals in a cool dry place away from a heat source and combustible substances.

Spray foam insulation kit


Environmental effects

Spray foam insulation is considered to be a green product as it prevents wastage of energy by sealing out air leaks. In the United States, a building may be granted federal and state tax deductions for installing spray foam insulation.


Spray foam insulation is a great addition to your home in terms of energy saving as well as structural stability of the building. In fact, spray foam insulation is more popular than fiber glass insulation since it provides better insulation and it can be sprayed into corners and crevasses making the inside of your home better protected from the elements. Furthermore, it also acts as a barrier to air-borne noise. Therefore, we recommend it to families having individuals suffering from asthma as it prevents the access of moisture in your home, responsible for the formation of molds and mold spores, which cause asthma attacks.

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