Can You Compare Spray Foam Insulation To Cellulose?

July 25, 2017 adamb@evidently.com

In this informative series of articles, various types of insulation have been compared to spray foam insulation, to give you the most informed opinion possible before making any home insulation decisions. This article will compare spray foam insulation to cellulose fiber insulation, to explore the benefits and drawbacks of each material.

Cellulose Insulation

First of all, a thorough explanation of what cellulose insulation is made of is necessary. One of the great things about cellulose, from a recycled perspective, is that it’s made from approximately 75% recycled paper fiber, much of which is old newspaper.

Cellulose  contains a fire retardant material, usually boric acid and sometimes ammonium sulphate. The cellulose is then shredded into tiny pieces and blown in by a machine, filling wall cavities, attic spaces, and wherever else you plan to install your insulation.

Many people will tell you that because the material is primarily recycled material, cellulose fiber insulation is the “green” choice, and in many ways it is. However, the tendency for cellulose fiber to settle over time due to gravity, after being blown in can cause multiple problems in the long term.

As cellulose insulation settles, pockets of poorly insulated space can develop, resulting in an increase in drafts. In the wintertime, those drafts translate to a home that may need additional money spent on heating, whether through space heaters for specific rooms, or an overall higher temperature in the house, to counteract those cold drafts.

Secondly, the settling that can occur in cellulose fiber insulation can mean a general increase in air loss in your home. Regardless of the season, air loss in your home means that your heating and cooling systems have to work harder to maintain the temperature you’ve set your home for. When your HVAC system is working harder, you are likely paying more on your heating and cooling bills, and your home’s energy efficiency is reduced drastically. If you think about it, how environmentally friendly is that?

Finally, there’s an important element that cellulose misses, as an insulation material: the ability to allow water to pass through, or to reject it entirely, without becoming sodden. Insulation that absorbs and holds on to moisture is less than ideal in hurricane- or flood-prone parts of the country. It can also spell the beginning of mildew or mold growth, which comes with an entirely different set of problems.

Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam insulation like Icynene is also sprayed in, but because the material is different from cellulose insulation, the result is also different. When Icynene spray foam is applied, it begins as a liquid, but quickly expands into a foam which adheres to the surface which it is applied. The expansion that takes place results in small corners and crevices being filled with spray foam and an effective air seal created, wherever it is applied.

This air sealing is a key component of why Icynene spray foam insulation is so effective and contributes towards energy efficiency. When a home has an air barrier, the risk of air loss and drafts  is reduced. The result is often lower monthly heating and cooling bills, and sometimes even the ability to “right-size” your HVAC unit to a smaller and more efficient size for your home’s needs.

One of the great things about Icynene spray foam is that it does not change form, once it has been applied and cured. Settling over time won’t happen, unlike traditional insulation. Depending on the type of spray foam, it either rejects bulk water or allows water to pass through without any damage to the integrity of the insulation. In fact, closed cell spray foam insulation is recognized by FEMA as a flood-resistant material, so your home can be better protected against moisture in the case of hurricanes and flooding.

In addition to all of this, Icynene spray foam insulation is guaranteed for the lifetime of the house. So, while you’re enjoying the comfort of fewer drafts, the savings on your monthly heating and cooling bills, and the knowledge that these things won’t be changing while you live in this home, consider this: does using recycled paper that may eventually need to be replaced all over again make the most sense to you and your family? Or does the energy efficiency created in your home by installing Icynene spray foam insulation appear to have more benefits? In the end, the choice is yours.

Talk to a licensed Icynene spray foam insulation contractor in your area, to find out more reasons why Icynene is the best choice for your home, or your project.

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