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Open & Closed Cell Foam Insulation

Cell Foam InsulationA home that is sufficiently insulated will have lower energy bills, less wasted energy, fewer drafts, and be much more comfortable to live in year-round. This is because insulation helps to protect a home from hot summer and/or cold winter outdoor temperatures. Plus, it protects against air leaks and helps to keep a home dry and mold-free. In this way, home insulation is a wonderful investment that will drastically reduce the homeowner’s heating and cooling expenses while also helping to reduce their carbon footprint.


More and more American homeowners are installing spray foam insulation in their homes, because this type of insulation is an excellent resistor to heat flow (i.e. it has a high R-value). If you’d like to add home spray foam insulation to your property, you must first know the difference between the two major types of spray foam insulation. Keep reading to learn how open cell foam insulation and closed cell foam insulation are alike and different, and also learn the ‘pros’ and ‘cons’ of each spray foam insulation type.


Type 1: Open Cell Foam Insulation

Unlike closed cell foam insulation, open cell foam insulation feels soft, like a cushion. This is because the tiny foam cells of open cell foam insulation are not completely closed. Instead, they are “open” and air can fill the material’s open space. This makes open cell foam insulation somewhat weaker and softer than closed cell foam insulation; however, because it is less dense, open cell foam insulation is more affordable than closed cell foam insulation. Homeowners must also keep in mind that, due to its “openness,” open cell foam insulation does not act as an effective air or vapor barrier. While it is an excellent insulator, air and moisture can penetrate through open cell foam insulation.


Type 2: Closed Cell Foam Insulation

The tiny foam cells of closed cell foam insulation, on the other hand, are fully closed, They’re also packed tightly together, making closed cell foam insulation quite strong and dense. When you hire a contractor to install closed cell foam insulation, you’re also helping to increase your home’s structural stability, because closed cell foam insulation can increase a wall’s strength. Closed cell foam insulation is a much better resistor to heat flow, air leaks, and water vapor than open cell foam insulation. A ‘con’ of closed cell foam insulation is that, because it is denser and requires more material than open cell foam insulation, it is more expensive.


Comparing Density and R-value

The density of open cell foam insulation is ~0.5 pounds per cubic foot, while the density of closed cell foam insulation is usually ~2.0 pounds per cubic foot. In terms of R-values, or resistance to heat flow, closed cell foam insulation offers nearly twice the protection, with an R-value of ~6.0 per inch. Open cell foam insulation typically has an R-value of ~3.5 per inch of insulation.


The Best Places to Install Cell Foam Insulation

Due to open cell foam insulation’s inability to act as a vapor barrier, insulation contractors should not install open cell foam insulation below grade where it could be exposed to moisture. Because closed cell foam insulation has such a high R-value, it is a great choice for hard-to-reach places that require a high resistance to heat flow.

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