Lately, more and more people are opting for foam for home and building construction mainly because of the long-term benefits it offers. Today, there are two main types of foam to choose from: open cell insulation and closed cell insulation. But because have their own advantages and disadvantages, it is essential to first learn about what these services are and which one is best for you.
Both types are use the same materials and work in the same manner. They trap air or gas in a plastic matrix to create a foam wall for insulation. The differences between the two types start with the blowing agents used with the foam.
With open cell insulation, the blowing agent used to achieve reaction is water. This will react with the air inside to create CO2. The air bubbles created expand the material until it sets. The same reaction is made with closed cell insulation. However, it uses HFCs as a blowing agent. So basically the open cell is the greener option between the two.
Because CO2 expands quickly, the bubbles formed usually burst before the plastic actually sets hence the term “open cell”. The result is a lightweight and spongy foam substance that weighs is 0.5 pounds per cubic foot. The closed cell foam, however, is heavier than its counterpart weighing in at 1.7 to 2 pounds per cubic inch. It uses a chemical blowing agent that turns from liquid to gas. The bubble doesn’t burst before the plastic settles hence a denser product.
The R-Value of a material basically refers to its ability to reflect heat. Higher R-Value means better insulation. In this area, closed cell beats out open cell insulation. Although the latter has an R-Value of 3.6 which is the same with most materials, closed cell insulation boasts of 6 per inch.
That being said, open cell foam is a better choice for hot or humid areas for roof insulation. However, when it comes to overall performance in insulation, the closed cell is a better choice especially for walls and flooring.
Because it uses more materials, closed cell insulation is 20-30% more expensive for the same thickness than open cell foam.
When it comes to advantages, closed cell insulation is better at R-Value, overall strength of the material, and resistance to air and water vapour leakage. However, it is denser and more expensive. Open cell on the other hand is a lighter material to work with and performs well in hot and humid areas. Also, it is worth noting that open cell produces a bit more jobsite waste compared to closed cell.
In cases wherein thickness and R-Value is important, then the insulation of choice should be closed cell foam.On the other hand, if these characteristics are not the main consideration, then the open cell foam is the better choice considering that it is a lot cheaper.
Overall, it is difficult to say which foam is better. There are situations wherein closed cell insulation is the better choice while open cell insulation is also great at certain circumstances. To learn more, call (504) 383-3261 or talk to an expert at EcoStarfoam.com.