“It’s Alive!!!” A Look at Spray Foam Insulation

Watching foam insulation expand is a bit like watching 1958’s The Blob. The inanimate mass grows and fills its surroundings at a surprising rate, giving it an almost lifelike appearance during installation. Spray foam expands up to 100 times its original volume within 4-10 seconds. However, unlike the Blob, after the foam expands it stays in one spot, forever. Van Dewark Construction has just finished installing foam insulation in one of our current custom home projects and seeing the process first hand really shed new light on its efficiency and appeal. Watching it fill every nook and cranny as it was expertly sprayed around beams and hard to reach places, I got to see just how airtight this stuff really is! Unlike it’s more common counterpart, fiberglass insulation, spray foam leaves no space open to airflow, meaning with the proper ventilation and application you can greatly improve your air quality, fire safety, energy efficiency, and much more.

Foam insulation has been popular on the east coast for quite some time because it drastically reduces and discourages the growth of mold. However, as energy prices rise and environmental awareness becomes more important it’s steadily gaining momentum out here on the west coast. For our project we chose to use Icynene Spray Foam to compliment our already incredibly efficient radiant heat floor system and add to the home’s overall efficiency. Icynene’s certified team did the work quick and efficiently while also taking the time to ensure it was done right.

Steve Van Dewark and the Icynene crew took a minute to explain to me a bit about how the application process and product work. They broke down everything from what the foam is made of (stuff that gets you on the GreenSpec® Directory and the Green Wizard directory…I may not understand the chemistry but the people who do seem to like this stuff, a lot), how the spray gun works (air keeps the barrel clear so the two components that make the foam expand don’t meet until they’re expelled), why they shave the excess off (no one wants lumpy drywall), and what some of the long term advantages of spray foam insulation are (it doesn’t expand or shrink over time, it keeps good air in and bad air out, keeps the entire structure- including the attic, roughly the same temperature, along with the aforementioned cost effectiveness, fire safety and comfort components). In the case of our current custom home project, spray foam insulation makes perfect sense. It compliments the other heating, cooling, and ventilation choices, helps cut down on circulating dust and allergens that are prominent in the area, and also helps to address some fire safety issues that the region is prone to.

It was a great day on the Van Dewark Construction site and I had a great time learning about spray foam insulation and watching its install. If you’d like to know more about spray foam insulation for your home or custom project, Steve has completed a number of projects involving spray foam and can answer any questions you may have. We’re always happy to help, because with any major home renovation or build project it’s important to do your homework first. For example, spray foam insulation might not be what your particular case needs, however, having a contractor that knows the pros and cons of multiple methods and products can save you time and money in the long run.

Spray Foam Insulation is being applied by one man, while another goes back and trims the excess off for a smooth finish when it is done expanding.
Filling every nook and cranny, creating a completely airtight finish that keeps the air you want in, and the pollutants and debris you hate out!