Spray Foam Types as Attic Insulation

Last week we discussed whether or not spray foam is right for your attic in order to keep it dry and energy efficient. This week we will be touching on the differences between the two major types of spray foam that is commercially available, open-cell and closed-cell. Each of these types of foam insulation are excellent options, depending on where they are used and what your goals are.

Type of Spray Foam: Closed-cell

Closed-cell insulation being applied inside a wall.

Spray Foam Types: Open-Cell

It is also referred to as half round foam. The foam comes with an R-Value of 3.5-3.6 per inch; its density is about 0.5 pounds per cubic foot. The low-intensity foam is mostly made from biological materials, carbon dioxide and water is applied as a makeup. Open cell consumes very few materials than closed cell. It comes with lower R-value. Open cell requires vapor retarder such as gypsum wallboard. It is riskier when you use it for roof sheeting. When considering open-cell we would like to discouraged you from applying this in a cold climate area unless you have an extra barrier in place. It is also necessary to take into consideration the money you will spend installing open cell insulation and the effectiveness of the foam.


Spray Foam Types: Closed-Cell

It is also referred to as two –pound foam. It is denser than an open cell for about 2 pounds per cubic foot. R-Value for the closed cell foam is about 6-6.5 per inch. Due to its thickness, it is expensive than open cell types. It comes with an in-built vapor retarder. Closed-cell spray foam has a permeance of about 0.8 perms. It can easily handle cold climates without the addition of drywall or board. The closed cell utilizes hydrofluorocarbons (HFCS) as its makeup. It has been noted to have high global warming effects. If you like to go green, then avoid it.

If you need pricing on spray foam insulation, then you need to contact a professional today.


Where and When to Use Spray Foam Insulation

Spray Foam insulation forms alternative to traditional insulation materials such as fiberglass insulation. The material can be used during planning or even in the construction project. Spray foam is an expandable foam substance which can be easily sprayed into wall cavities during construction or onto a roof for insulation purposes.

Spray foam insulation applied by an attic insulation contractor wearing proper PPE

Spray Foam insulation being applied to bare wood in attic

Cost of the Spray Foam Insulation

The material is available in two forms. You can use open cell spray foam insulation which is usually $0.44 to $0.65 per board foot. Closed cell spray insulation is about $1 to $1.50 per board foot. The average labor cost to have spray foam professionally installed is about $2,104. The amount can vary depending on whether the home is new or old. A finished home will likely require energy audit or weatherization instead of spray foam insulation.

We are going to cover sections such as:

  • Where to Use Foam Insulation
  • DIY Foam Insulation Kits
  • Types of Foam Insulation
  • R-Value and Thermal Resistance
  • Benefits and Disadvantages
  • The difference in Cost for New vs. Existing Homes


Where to Use Spray Foam Insulation


You can use spray insulation to achieve both vapor and air barrier depending on the depth used. You should carry out checks and confirm the brand of foam used before hiring a contractor. It is necessary to check the manufacturer’s name, as well as the ESR reports and MSDS sheets on the foam, is installed. Some of the areas which are suitable for the insulation include:

Crawl Space/Basement:

In this area, you can apply it on spray foam seals pipes, cracks, plumbing, sills, and framing.


You can install the insulation around the heating and cooling system to optimize their performance. Areas you can apply it include around pipes, floor registers, condensers, and duct-work. Reductions experienced in extremely hot and cold climates can offset the upfront cost or the additions with foam.


Exterior uses for spray on insulation include:

  1. Electrical & gas penetrations
  2. Where the siding & Foundation meet
  3. Wall joints in the garage ceiling
  4. Stone wall repair
  5. Around exterior faucets and vents
  6. Securing block walls in the landscape
  7. Water feature fillers

You should choose closed cell or open cell spray insulation based on the purpose and the placement of the insulation. Always pay attention to the recommendations of the insulation contractor.


Cooling and Heating Elements In Your Attic

The heating and cooling elements in your attic are extremely important to the overall health of your home. A proper attic will be able to stay dry year-round, insulate the house to avoid high heating bills in the winter and high cooling bills in the summer.  We’ve spoken with many a siding contractor, and we have always concluded that a properly insulated attic will always provide more energy benefits than insulated siding. To accomplish these results, many attics need cooling elements as well as vents to stay dry. In this article, we will be breaking down the importance of each of the different aspects to keep the conditions in your attic healthy, and cost effective.

Attics & Cooling

Temperatures in the attic reach the highest levels in a home. You should think about cooling options before you start your remodeling process. You can use window air conditioners but opting for fans is more effective and less costly.

Whole House Fans

Whole house fans can be installed in the attic’s ceiling to vent hot air out. They create positive pressure which is effective in forcing hot air out making occupants comfortable. The fans cost about $1,000 to $1,750 to install. The running cost of a whole house fan is about $0.01 and $0.05 per hour. Air conditioners can cost $0.15 to $0.20 per hour of operation. They have drawbacks of being noisy and work well in areas where you can leave windows open at night without any security concerns.

Attic Fans

They are specifically designed to exhaust air from the attic. They remove super-heated air from the attic and create negative pressure which helps hot air to escape through roof vents. It can contribute to drawing cooler air from the second floor, but it is not efficient for home wide cooling. The attic fan installation can cost about $550 to install.

Types of Insulation and Their Benefits

Insulation Benefits

It is important to insulate the attic irrespective whether you are converting it or not. Insulation can save up to $600 in cooling and heating costs. There are several forms of insulation to choose. They include batts, blown in, barriers and spray foam. They have their pros and cons.

White spray foam being applied inside the roofing rafter

Contractor applying spray foam insulation in an attic.


They are made out of fiberglass or cellulose which is packed in rolls of varying thickness. To install you have to part with $1,500 on average. The large rolls can fit between studs and fill voids to prevent air from leaking into and out of the exterior wall. It costs $0.60 to $1.20 on average per square foot. It works best where attic has few obstructions.


You can choose between reflective or radiant barriers which can cost an average of $1,600. The insulation applies thermodynamics to increase your home’s R-value. The value represents the ability of attics to resist heat flow. The barriers work through absorbing and reflecting heat so that they can maintain moderate temperatures. The attic insulation is best in homes located in areas with warm climates. It can cost an average of $0.17 to $0.33 per square foot.

Blown-in Insulation

It costs about $1,346 to install. It is known to offer perfect insulation with high R-value. Blown insulation can cost an average of $0.26 to $0.62 per square foot. You will have to part additional $64 to $80 per hour in labor. The blown in insulation consists of white cellulose which is a paper like material manufactured from recycled cardboard and newspapers. The insulation allows easy installation in tight spots. It is also pest and moisture proof.

Spray Foam Insulation

The insulation can cost an average of $1,900. There are two types which include closed cell and open cell foam. Both can work well, but closed foam offers high R-value, in addition to the insulation being vapor and water barrier. There is also an added benefit of sound proof when you use closed cell foam insulation. It is the perfect option for attic floor insulation. Open-cell foam can cost an average of $0.40 to $0.55 per board foot. For closed-cell spray foam, it can cost an average of $0.65 to $1 per board foot.