R-Value – Thermal Resistance in Spray Foams

The value should be your guide when installing insulation and foam. But, it should not be the only method to measure insulation because heat loss can happen in several ways. The six methods you can apply to determine heat losses include the following:

Heat Loss Mechanisms To Prevent

  • Conduction
  • Radiation
  • Convection
  • Air infiltration
  • Moisture accumulation
  • Air intrusion

Spray polyurethane foam is effective in preventing the six types of heat losses. The six heat transfer methods should form a mechanism for you to choose the best insulation. You can as well use Energy star map to choose the best insulation in the United States.

DIY Foam Insulation Kits

We have a shorter post this week, where we would just like to point out different types of manufacturers of spray foam. All of these brands will suffice, it mainly depends on the availability at your local hardware store. Happy insulating!

If you decide to install on your own, you can choose the following brands:

  • GREAT Stuff (PRO)
  • FOAM IT
  • Touch ‘n Foam
  • Handi-Foam
  • Tiger Foam
  • Foam It Green
  • Touch N Seal
  • FomoFoam

Last Minute Insulation Tips

In average, the price of a sheet which can cover 200 square feet is between $250 and $500. This is about two or three kits. The kits contain icynene which is a foam made out of liquids. You will have to spray on the surface you intend to insulate, and it will expand for up to 100 times. Gases produced are poisonous hence you should take necessary precautions.

It is hard for someone unexpected to apply it perfectly. Leaving small holes due to the uneven application can leave spaces for cold air to enter the building. You should do it yourself if you are applying in small areas. You can do areas around crawl space or plumbing lines, but let experts work on larger projects such as the attic, garage, and basement. Professionals will apply the right tools, and they have the necessary knowledge.

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.

HVAC:

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.

Batts

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.

Barriers

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.

 

Assessing the Accessibility of an Unfinished Attic

If space is less accessible, the contractors will charge you higher rates as it will likely take them more man hours to complete the job. Most attic lack pipes, ducts, and wiring hence you may have to install them so that you can achieve a fully functional space.

Attic space used to install a HVAC system

Fully utilizing the attic space with an air conditioner

Heating and Cooling

You should have an HVAC specialist analyze your space for you to know whether you need any addition. In most cases, the existing forced air blower can be sufficient. If it is not enough, you can opt to install a window air conditioner. It costs about $300. An electric baseboard heater can cost $150 to $200. You can as well choose to install more ducts and vents to boost the HVAC system.

Electricity

Homeowners should hire fully licensed and insured electrician for the services. The average cost is about $50 to $75 per hour. The electrician will assess the electrical home panel to know whether it can handle the increased load to your attic. He can install a new attic or run wires to the attic (average cost $1,500 to $3,000).

Plumbing

If you opt to convert the attic into a master bedroom or family room, then you need plumbing. You can locate the bathroom close to pipes carrying water to the septic tank so that you can save on cost. A professional plumber can cost $150 to $450. Installing plumbing fixtures costs an average of $1,000.

 

Turning Attics into Livable Space

After you have determined the actual space available in the attic and the structural requirements, you will then have to determine the way you will utilize the space. Homeowners can convert or remodel the space available for the following uses:

Common Attic Conversions

  • Recreational rooms equipped with billiard tables and video games
  • TV or movie rooms which contain big-screen TVs and plenty of plush with comfortable seating
  • Guest or master bedrooms which have sunny windows, luxury bedding as well as attached bathrooms
  • Multipurpose workout spaces, library, and office spaces
Attic remodeled with bookshelves.

Aside from the slanted ceilings, would you have guessed this to be an attic?

How to Start Attic Remodeling / Converting

It does not matter the use of your space; you should start by installing ceilings, and walls then proceed to add flooring and lighting.

Walls and Ceilings

Ceilings and walls play a crucial role in transforming an unfinished attic to a livable space. To install walls, you can spend an average of $1,900 and installing ceilings can cost $1,300. To have the help of a professional you have several options such as the following:

Drywall

With drywall, you have a smooth wall for the ceiling, which is easy to install and generally an off white color. . They also allow easy painting or wallpapering. The drywall can cost on average about $1,700.

Wallpaper

Wallpapers are versatile due to a wide variety of patterns and textures available. It can cost $505 on average, but you will achieve great freedom in personalizing your walls. You should also note that for the last decade or so, wallpapers have been going out of style, and while they are functional, they may not be stylish.

Paint

It is available in a wide variety of shades. It is among the fastest and easiest ways to finish your attic. Professionals can cost about $1,669 on average.

Installing trim and crown molding

You can install trim out of basic baseboards or from ornate crown molding. Other sources include shiplap and beadboard which will provide a great finished look to your space. A professional can charge about $1,094 to $1,304 on trimming services.

Flooring

If you have a bedroom below the attic, then you need soundproofing. Insulation can offer soundproofing apart from climate control. Choosing a plush carpet over a plywood subfloor can be the best option. It perfectly muffs footsteps and activity on your attic floor. Some of the popular flooring options include the following:

Ceramic or porcelain tile

It is an idea for the application in the kitchen or bathroom. The flooring material offers easy cleaning and has an average cost of about $1,500.

Hardwood

With hardwood, you enjoy warmth and elegance. It works well with contemporary as well as traditional décor with an average cost of $4,500.

Carpeting

It comes in a variety of materials and colors.Height ranges from flat to plush. It can cost $1,500 on average.

Laminate

A pet-friendly laminate with water resistant feature will offer a traditional look with easy maintenance. The average cost is about $2,748.

Before you decide on flooring materials, you should take into consideration its cost per foot, use and its look as well as feel. When adding a bathroom to the attic, you should use tile or water safe materials. For a bedroom or game floor, you can consider wood or carpet.

Lighting

To enhance the usability of the space, you should always choose the right light for your attic. You can opt for desk top lamps or even integrated overhead lighting if they work well. Homeowners can install a ceiling fan which costs about of $242 to enjoy both overhead air circulation and light. Other options you can consider include the following:

Recessed lighting

The lights are installed in the ceiling. They leave the lines of the roof intact while offering light. They cost about $50 to $200 per light.

Traditional ceiling-mounted lights

They offer a variety of styles which range from domes which sit flush to the ceiling with dramatic hanging chandeliers. They can cost about $100 to $200.

Wall lights

You can choose from traditional sconces to various modern wall lights. The fixtures allow users to develop targeted lighting which supplements the overhead lights. The average cost is about $100 to $250.

 

Attic Renovations and Conversions Introduction

Introduction to Attic Renovations

If you need extra living space but you are not ready for the hassles and the huge expense involved in having a room addition, and then you should opt for attic conversion. With attic conversion, it is easy to add a livable square footage in your home. It allows transformation of attic to storage space, a perfect master bedroom, playroom, guest room, media room or even office. Not all attics will do well in room addition; it is necessary to work in close collaboration with your structural engineer or an architect to know whether attic can support the added weight before you commence the project.

On average, attic renovations can cost about $40,000. But, the project cost can vary depending on several factors. Some of the factors include the square footage of unusable space, labor required to bring the space up to code and the material requirement.

Small hunting cabin with a bed in the attic after renovation

Finished attic in a hunting cabin, Northern Wisconsin

Attic Configuration & Size

Configuring your attic is complicated than other configurations in a home. The amount of space in your attic will depend on the type and number of trusses used in supporting the roof. Other factors include joist of the roof and pitch. A sloped roof can pose several challenges. Building codes dictate some strict minimums when it comes to the size of the building. Homeowners are required to follow “rule of 7s,”. It stipulates that the finished attic should have at least a total of 70 square feet with a minimum height and width requirements of about 7 feet. Other conditions dictate the number of windows, the method of heating as well as the safe installation of stairs. The larger the attic, the more you will spend due to material needed such as carpeting, drywall, and insulation.

Windows

It is required for at least 8% of the attics space floor to be glazed, and 4% should be an open area. For instance, if your attic opens for 100 square feet, the windows should be 8 square feet. 4 sq ft should allow the opening to the outside. For homeowners who have installed fewer than five windows, they report having spent about $1,900 on average.

Ceiling Height

For the attic to qualify for conversion, it should have at least 70 square feet of the floor space. The ceilings should have at least 5 feet high. At least half of unusable area should contain ceiling of at least 7 feet high. For an attic with 200 square feet of floor area which can be used and ceiling 5 feet high, at least 100 square feet of the space should contain ceiling of at least 7 feet high.

Some homeowners prefer to install dormers, which are windows that project out of the slope of the roof. Raising ceiling height is essential. On average, dormers can cost from $1,300 for DIY dormer installation. They can cost $2,000 to $18,000 for professional installation.

Tall attic with large slanted ceiling

Rustic attic with wooden beams

 

Heating

Building codes require homeowners to sustain a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit in remodeled and converted attic. Rising heat and attic insulation can easily maintain the temperature. It can help you negate the need for the heating system upgrade. For home owners who invested in heating system upgrades, they spent an average of $1,000 to install ducts and vents. They also spent about $4,000 on a new furnace.

Support

For building codes compliance, your attic should have stairs which can support at least 30 pounds per square foot. Joists should meet local requirements. You can consult your local structural engineer or architect to get the standards right. Homeowners admit spending an average of $50 to $150 per hour on structural advice concerning attic renovations.

Stairs

If you are using the pull-down steps or hatchway to access the attic, then installing stairs can be a significant project. For you to comply with the codes, the stairway must span for at least 36 inches wide. It should as well have a maximum rise of 7.75 inches between threads. The threads must have at least a depth of 9.5 inches. The steps must have the clearance of about 80 inches. Installing steps leads to losing of several square feet in the attic and the area below. Professionals can charge you about $2,000 to $3,000 to install the stairs.