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The drawback to spray foam insulation is it's been known to cause certain health issues such irritation of the eye and the gastrointestinal and respiratory tracts. Direct contact can cause inflammation to the skin, and some individuals have been known to break out in a rash on the arms, chest and neck area. Spray foam insulation has also been linked to a few cases of hypersensitivity pneumonitis. This condition can cause:

Foam is very sticky; you'll need to wear disposable coveralls with a hood, and gloves, a face mask, and eye protection. It takes some practice to spray foam evenly and, because it expands so dramatically, to control its depth; 2 inches is all you need to seal the joist cavities. You need a clear area so that you can work without interruption; any pause longer than 30 seconds will clog the nozzle and require putting on a new one. It's also critical that the air temperature stays between 75 and 85 degrees.
R-value, the thermal resistance measure of insulation, varies between all insulation products whether they are fiberglass, cellulose, open-cell spray foam insulation or closed-cell sprayed-in foam insulation. Generally speaking the rule of thumb is the higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power.  Focusing on spray foam insulation materials, there is a difference between the two main types. According to industry publication, Fine Home Building, the R-value for open-cell spray foam is between R-3.5 – R-3.6 per inch. However, there are open-cell spray foam insulation products actually offer R-3.7 per inch such as Icynene Classic and Icynene Classic Max. The open cell structure of low density foam insulation means the R-value is lower than its closed-cell counterpart. Nevertheless, open-cell spray foam does offer superior and consistent thermal insulation and air sealing properties.
One of the key differentiators between traditional insulation materials and spray foam insulation is the latter’s ability to insulate and air seal. Foam insulation provides an air barrier to wherever it is applied to help mitigate air leakage from the building. Air sealing the building envelope with sprayed-in foam insulation also helps address moisture ingress to reduce the risk of mold and mildew growth as well as the formation of ice dams in colder climate zones during the winter months.  When you compare foam insulation with traditional fiberglass insulation and cellulose insulation, sprayed insulation minimizes air infiltration, it assists in limiting moisture vapor from entering and escaping the home, which in turn reduces the load on heating and cooling systems. Below is a video that compares fiberglass, cellulose and open-cell spray foam in terms of insulating and air sealing value.
OK, Peter, I finally went back and read Alex Wilson's article on what he perceives as a serious problem. I haven't seen the full report, but based on the summary he wrote on the Green Building Advisor website, I question the science. It seems to me that he's chosen the wrong metric and he's basing his conclusion on too many assumptions because he doesn't have enough data. You can see my comments at the end of his article.
We have a 22 year old home located in southeastern georgia where the humidity is very high. In the past 2 weeks our floors have started buckling all over. We have a vented crawl space and the old insulation is drooping from moisture and the wood is wet. We are debating between the "encapulation" method or the spray foam method to repair this issue. Which would you recommend?

FROTH-PAK Foam Sealant is a two-component quick-cure polyurethane FROTH-PAK Foam Sealant is a two-component quick-cure polyurethane foam that fills cavities penetrations cracks and expansion joints. FROTH-PAK foam sealant can also be used as a sealant and void fill in many roofing applications. FROTH-PAK is chemically cured foam which significantly reduces curing time. FROTH-PAK dispenses expands and becomes tack ...  More + Product Details Close


I've seen this only once, and it was with closed cell foam, but I've heard of it happening with open cell foam, too. I don't know the details, but I've heard it could result from a bad batch of chemicals, improper mixing, or too high a temperature. Whatever the cause, it's not a good thing. The photo below shows how the spray foam pulled away from the studs. A little bit of uninsulated area like that adds up to a lot of heat loss/gain when the whole house has that problem, as it did here.
We are your allies in the victory over energy loss. Our mission is to educate our clients and community on the rewards of energy efficiency using a combination or the straight forward Sprayfoam insulation solution. By evaluating the needs of the development planned structures, budgets involved, and goals of the builder or individual homeowners, we compose a comprehensive work scope designed to tighten the thermal envelope and improve indoor air quality and acoustics, all while lowering operating costs and still creating homes that breathe. With over 50 years of combined experience and pages of 'Home Energy Reports' with 98% energy loss numbers — we help you begin your journey of offering homes energy independence and extreme comfort.  

How Much Is Spray Foam Insulation Installed


Most closed-cell spray foam is now formed using hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) blowing agents that have high global warming potential, partially or completely offsetting the climate benefits of the energy savings they can offer. In the United States, HFCs are scheduled to be phased out by January, 2021. A few spray foam suppliers have started supplying spray foam blown with hydrofluoroolefin (HFO) blowing agents without this problem as of early 2017.[14]


If you cut the nails holding one of the corner studs to the bottom plate and the top plate with a Sawzall, you can use a flat bar (or a flat bar plus a wrecking bar) to pull the stud off the sheathing nails. Either re-use the stud, or buy a new stud, and install the stud with toenails as shown in the link I provided in Comment #51 (this link: Outside corner detail). http://m.youtu.be/ggLAUsiuI_o


Polyurethane is a closed-cell foam insulation material that initially contains a low-conductivity gas in its cells.[5] As a result of the high thermal resistance of the gas, spray polyurethane insulation typically has an initial R-value around R-3.4 to R-6.7 per inch.[5] In comparison, blown fiberglass typically has an R-Value of only R-3 to R-4 per inch.[6]
Spray foam insulation or spray polyurethane foam (SPF) is an alternative to traditional building insulation such as fiberglass. A two-component mixture composed of isocyanate and polyol resin comes together at the tip of a gun, and forms an expanding foam that is sprayed onto roof tiles, concrete slabs, into wall cavities, or through holes drilled in into a cavity of a finished wall.
However, coating asphalt shingles and built-up composition roofs requires more caution. The National Roofing Contractors Association’s (NRCA) director of technical services has stated "The roofing industry is aware of a number of issues that could have negative consequences for field application of coatings over asphalt shingle roof systems. Anyone considering this type of application should be aware of the concerns so they can weigh them against the benefits claimed in coating product promotional materials."[2] 

Sealection® 500 has been Demilec's flagship product for more than 20 years, and has positioned Demilec as an industry-leading spray foam insulation manufacturer. As an environmentally-friendly product, it delivers superior performance, energy savings, and is an excellent return on investment for architects, builders, contractors, and homeowners, making it the ideal choice for insulation.
Builders often turn to high-density SPF when high insulation values and strength are needed. As its name implies, this foam has a denser structure than either of the other SPF types. Therefore, it does not expand as much as lower density foams and requires more material to cover and insulate any given space. This spray foam is often an excellent choice for roofing or other exterior insulation because of its seamless, monolithic nature. High-density SPF can also help reduce energy costs significantly over a roof’s lifetime due to its thermal resistance properties. It also offers increased protection against air and water infiltration and strengthens the structure to which it is applied. The bond that SPF forms to the roof can increase a building’s resistance to wind uplift, which can help reduce damage experienced during periods of high wind.
We are your allies in the victory over energy loss. Our mission is to educate our clients and community on the rewards of energy efficiency using a combination or the straight forward Sprayfoam insulation solution. By evaluating the needs of the development planned structures, budgets involved, and goals of the builder or individual homeowners, we compose a comprehensive work scope designed to tighten the thermal envelope and improve indoor air quality and acoustics, all while lowering operating costs and still creating homes that breathe. With over 50 years of combined experience and pages of 'Home Energy Reports' with 98% energy loss numbers — we help you begin your journey of offering homes energy independence and extreme comfort.  

While coatings may potentially stop minor leaks, the roof should be properly repaired and dried prior to coating application. Coatings may be able to seal pinhole leaks, which are leaks not visible to the naked eye. If the roof is leaking, the roof leak will need to be identified and repaired prior to any recoating; do not expect the coating to find and seal the leaks.

This is in great contrast to my friend's experience. Her attic spaces were sprayed and the foam is actually pretty, and I was in her attic 6-7 days after it was sprayed and could hardly smell anything when I stuck my face up to the foam. And she did not have to clean up one speck of dust during or after the spraying. I got the name/number of the guy from her who managed her attic project, but between the time he did my house and the time he did her house, he was let go from the company who did her attic and hired by another company. He assured me everything would be the same, etc., etc., and I had no reason to believe anything had changed, but the sprayers who did my house later admitted they had never sprayed an attic before and I also found out that the foam used in my attic was from a different manufacturer. Neither my friend nor I had any idea this guy was with different company then, until the week after they filled my attic with off ratio foam, and my home with toxic vapors.  

I did a LOT of prep before using this product. Cleaned, vacuumed, installed additional insulation etc etc etc. This spray foam was easy to work with, and did it's job as it was supposed to. If you are curious, this kit was purchased because - every "foam insulation company" I contacted either did not call back (due to no interest) OR this was too small of a job. That is why I went DIY on this one, that and: I was advised by one of these companies that they have a minimum $2k job because ... (insert your answer here, but I will choose that everyone needs to eat).


RE: my June 12 post...We went ahead and had the attic sprayed with a Soy-based product. Stayed in a hotel for 3 nites. Still smelled a little bad but that's gone away over time. I'm very glad we didn't use the other foam as even that much outgassing of a petrochemical could have sent my wife to the hospital. Unfortunately, the spray crew didn't speak English(at least not to me) and were kinda lazy, so they ended up spraying over some can fixtures from the kitchen below that were not insulation-contact rated. So I hired an electrician to come out, pull down the cans, pull out what he thought was an appropriate amount of foam to create a big enough air space and then re-install the cans. I billed the firm for the electrician plus an extra night we had to stay in the hotel and they paid, no questions asked. Guess they knew they had screwed up.  
Jennifer, I'm not an expert on the health effects of closed cell foam. A lot of people live in houses with closed cell foam and have no health problems from it, at least not short-term, acute problems. I do know of one person who had it removed from her crawl space because she was convinced it caused her dog to get sick, but I know only what she told me.  
Although spray polyurethane foam has many advantages over other types of insulation, spray foam installation isn’t foolproof. Some builders have reported problems with sloppy foam insulation. For example, some installers have been known to begin spraying before the chemical components are up to temperature, which can affect component mixing and foam performance. When components are poorly mixed, or mixed in the wrong ratio or at the wrong temperature, cured foam has been known to shrink away from rafters or studs, leaving cracks. Some installers rush through their spraying, resulting in voids.
There are several types of reflective roof coatings that impart varied reflectance rates/ values. Typically, the reflective coatings are what are commonly referred to as white coatings and there are also aluminum coatings typically used with asphalt. Highly reflective white roof coatings are typically comprised of acrylics, urethanes, silicones, SBS, SEBS, and other types. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggLAUsiuI_o&app=m

For large jobs, professionals such as Dr. Energy Saver use two-part foam, which comes in larger containers. With 2-part spray foam, it's necessary to mix separate resin and catalyst compounds at the application nozzle. Combining these ingredients starts a chemical reaction that creates expanding foam. Contractors use small 2-part foam "kits" to air-seal an attic or to seal and insulate ductwork. To insulate an entire attic or wood-framed wall with spray foam, the resin and catalyst compounds are pumped to the application nozzle from 50-gallon drums in a specially equipped truck.
I am building a house in Central Texas (Caldwell). Several builders are cautious about using foam insulation and/or a closed attic. I would like to use both. Here in Texas, heat and humidity (except for the past few years of drought) are a continuing problem. Which type of foam would be the best to use in our home, where should the vapor barrier be or should be use one at all, if we are using fans in the exterior walls to supply fresh air to the house, do we need a vented attic or will it cause more problems than it solve? I have printed out your article and the blogs to give to my contractors and architect, but I would really appreciate your comments on the products being used in my part of the US. 

Yes, a new roof should be coated if the building owner wants to add a highly reflective roof coating to reduce energy costs. The buyer should be aware of any warranties provided for a new roof that may violate that warranty during the period it is in force via the use of a roof coating. This will extend the roof’s service life. A reflective roof coating will reduce the heat load on the roofing assembly.


I'm in the process of redoing my basement and read through the posts. I took out one inch styrofoam covered by 1/4 " beadboard and installed 2X4s and plan on putting in fiberglass batts between them(r-13) with 1/2 in drywall over top of that. Do you think I will see a significat increase in heat control? Should I have done more?... it's a little after the fact, but still curious to know if I will see a big difference based on your experience.

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