What Is Urethane Foam Insulation?

Urethane foam insulation is a type of insulation that is applied with a spray gun onto a surface. This is quite a different approach to insulation than that of batt foam, or the traditional pink rolls that we have all seen in our attics for decades. Foam insulation was initially used in the 1940s as insulation for military and aircraft applications. In the 1970s, spray foam insulation came onto the construction scene, and has rapidly become widely recognized for it's benefits.

Because of the chemicals involved and the skilled technique that is needed to properly apply it, any spray foam insulation jobs should be handled by a professional. Here you will find some basic information on polyurethane foam insulation.

Benefits of Polyurethane Foam Insulation

In both residential and commercial applications, polyurethane foam insulation can be a tremendous money saver. A home that has sprayed on insulation is about twice as energy efficient in heating and cooling than those with traditional batt insulation. The reason for this is the density of the materials that are found in the two different types of insulation. This will make a huge impact on energy savings over time. While it is more expensive to install than bat insulation, sprayed-on foam insulation will save on overall construction costs as it eliminated the need for other sealants, barrier wraps and joint tape, in addition to the energy cost that will ultimately be saved.

What Is It Made Of?

Spray foam insulation is essentially a type of plastic or petroleum based liquid, with several other chemicals added in to give it its expanding properties and insulating properties. There are 5 different chemicals associated with spray foam insulation: polyol, which is a sucrose and petroleum combination; surfactant, which controls the bubbles; a catalyst to control reaction rate; the blowing agent, which converts the liquid into a gas; and the isocyanate, which creates a molecular reaction. The isocyanate is kept separate from all the other materials until they all hit the nozzle of the spray gun. This chemical reaction is what creates the foam.

How It Is Applied

The foam is applied by a skilled professional who is somewhat of an artist. They use a spray gun, which the materials are routed through, and sprayed onto the walls, floors, ceiling or roof of the structure. The application requires almost a surgeon's precision, to avoid too much material being sprayed and to avoid over spray of surrounding materials. The gun is swept back and forth, up and down to evenly cover the surface. As the foam is applied, within moments of the chemical reaction of the mixing of materials, the foam expands to fill all the cracks and crevices around the surrounding materials, and is usually completely cured within 24 hours. Any excess foam is shaved off, and covering (such as drywall) can be applied to finish the wall.