Spray foam insulation, when properly installed is both an air barrier and when closed cell foam is used at the proper depth a vapor barrier!  Before hiring any contractor you should establish the brand of foam being used and verify that with the named manufacture.  Please ask for ESR reports and MSDS sheets on any foam being installed in your home. A couple areas where you might consider spray foam insulation include:
We have a 1950's ranch in Atlanta and are interviewing foam contractors to spray open cell under the roof, with an "ankle wall" out towards the eaves to seal the attic. My wife and daughters are chemically sensitive, so I'm trying to figure out how to minimize the fumes coming into the house. Additionally, at least one contractor has offered (for > $900) to remove our existing rock wool & R-13 fibreglass from the attic floor to "increase cross-ventilation into the attic". Seems to me I can't both minimize fumes AND increase cross-ventilation. They also offered to spray a fire-retardant on for >$600. Would ventilation during installation help any or woud the retardant seal off the foam and help that way? Thanks...

How Much Spray Foam Garage


Allison--would be very interested in your take on the GHG issues of foams, which have received lots of smart commentary recently. To highlight a few: architect Jesse Thompson's comments on Tom's Good vs Bad post on Energy Circle, the very thorough piece by Alex Wilson on Green Building Advisor and Michael Anschel's cautionary diatribe on Remodeling. 
Although spray foam insulation has been in use since the 1940s, primarily for aircraft, for the past 30 years, continual product innovation has seen the increased adoption of spray foam insulation in residential and commercial construction. The rapid growth of sprayed foam insulation in building construction, thanks in part to its immediate and long-term benefits, has allowed the insulation material to sit confidently alongside traditional insulation types in providing thermal comfort for building occupants.
These coatings contain various types of acrylic polymer, and are typically formulated to help extend the coating’s life and improve durability. Acrylic coatings are available in a number of colors but are most commonly used as white reflective coatings. Thanks to its durability and low cost, many contractors and facility managers believe this to be the best roof coating.
With constant exposure to heat, cold, UV radiation, rain, snow, hail, high winds and possible mechanical damage, a roof can be the most vulnerable component of a building’s exterior. However, a roof’s long-term performance can be enhanced — and major roofing problems avoided — with correct design, quality materials, proper installation and workmanship, and comprehensive care.

This high R-value of 4.45 at 1 inch, polyurethane insulation expands to seal cracks, gaps, and voids in attics, walls, crawl spaces, and ceilings. Agribalance is a three-quarter pound density foam that reduces air leakage by improving energy efficiency, and reducing moisture intrusion and outside contaminants such as dust, dirt, and allergens. As a result, builders can generally install smaller, more energy-efficient HVAC systems and achieve similar, or superior comfort compared to traditionally insulated structures which require a larger, less efficient HVAC system – resulting in higher energy costs.

Spray Foam Insulation Cost


If your foam pulled away just a little bit, Jamie, and they were able to fix it with just a little bit of touching up, then it wasn't as bad as the house where I saw this problem. As the last photo above shows, it had pulled away significantly from the studs and rafters, and it was all over the house. This was closed cell foam, and interestingly, it didn't pull away from the horizontal framing members, just the vertical and sloped ones. They did some touch up, but that wasn't enough. I don't know how this one ended up getting resolved. I think maybe the contractor came back and sprayed cellulose on top of the foam.

Where Can I Buy Spray Foam Insulation

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