FAQs About Spray Foam

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s)

If it’s so good, why doesn’t everyone have it?

We hope everyone will. The fact is though, Spray Foam Insulation (SPF) is more costly upon initial installation than many other insulation methods. This deters some contractors and builders from using it because it affects their profit margins, and minimum code compliance is often their goal. Spray Foam costs more, but seals and insulates so well, it often pays for itself in just a few years, so it is actually much more cost effective than other forms of insulation. We believe that SPF will eventually become a standard in residential and commercial construction. In some areas of the country, this is already the case.

How do I get tax breaks/rebates?

Please see our page on rebates for more information. Basically, any existing home in the state of TX, our home base, qualifies for up to $5000 in rebate incentives for installing energy efficiency upgrades. New construction homes are subject to other rebates, so please visit the rebates page for more detailed information, articles, and links.

Do you inject foam in the walls?

Yes, we have the capability to do wall injection foam / pour-fill foams, however, this requires drilling hundreds of holes in your interior or exterior walls to inject the foam and no SPF installer can guarantee 100% fill rate, so it’s not for everybody, although we will be happy to discuss this with you.

Homeowners often ask about insulating their walls, but heat losses through walls typically comprise only about 20% of losses in the typical home. Spray Foam Austin can explain why addressing insulation in attics, crawlspaces, and basement may alleviate the problem, without getting into opening or drilling walls.

4. Doesn’t my house need to “breathe”?

People need to breathe, houses do not. The question is HOW your house breathes, or rather, is ventilated, that’s really in question. Portions of buildings, such as attics and crawlspace are ventilated primarily for moisture control. By eliminating condensation problems, the need for ventilation is eliminated. Now, of course you want to breathe fresh, clean air, and in a new construction, entirely spray foamed building, you should install a system for this (HRV or ERV). In most retrofits, older homes are generally “leaky” enough to allow for enough air changes.

5. Doesn’t my attic need to be vented?

No, not with spray foam, the only insulation approved for use in unvented attic spaces. This is perhaps the most difficult aspect of spray foam insulation to understand, even for some builders and architects. The basic premise is that attics are traditionally vented to reduce moisture condensation from warm, moist air inside the home, against the cold underside of the roof sheathing. Spray Foam is such an effective insulator and air barrier that it doesn’t allow any air movement or condensation, and thus, it can be used to insulate the rafter bays, bringing the attic into the conditioned building envelope and increasing the energy efficiency of the building. This has been a proven system for over 25+ years and is far superior to the “old” system of using vented attics and insulating the floor of the attic (the ceiling joists). Please read one of the articles on unvented attic assemblies.

6. What does it cost ?

Spray foam may cost 3-4 times as much as batt fiberglass insulation, but you probably know that SPF can’t really be compared to fiberglass, and as you look at alternative insulation systems, the cost differential is drastically reduced. Spray Foam applications vary greatly, depending on local, state, and national building codes, as well as your preferences and areas you’d like to address, so we need to quote each job individually. That being said, SPF is not what you call “cheap”, but it is extremely competitive. We recommend that you examine your heating and cooling bills for the last two years or so, and you’ll see how quickly spray foam pays for itself. Call us for a free estimate today from the ultimate insulation package to the most cost effective route.

8. Is it green?

The spray foam products that Spray Foam Austin uses vary, but there are spray foams that are “greener” than others. Soy based foams offer the greatest green impact, while traditional foams, which do, like all plastics, use some petroleum based chemicals in the manufacturing process, still save countless barrels of oil from being burned during their life in your home, as well as substantial greenhouse gas emissions. So, yes and no…since most spray foam is not an entirely recycled product, it is not inherently a green product, but it is one of the greenest things you can do to your home. We hold that saving countless hydrocarbon fuels from being burned is certainly green.

Take a moment to consider the vehicle in your driveway…perhaps it gets 30mpg, burning much less fuel than your previous vehicle. How many mpg does your home get? It’s not uncommon to see a Prius in the driveway of a home with an $800/month energy bill!

9. Is “spray foam insulation” the same as “blown in insulation”?

No, “spray foam insulation” is a polyurethane foam that is sprayed in place as a liquid and quickly expands to form a semi-rigid foam. “Blown in insulation” typically refers to cellulose insulation which can be “blown” in place from a machine through a hose. Cellulose is basically recycled newspaper with a chemical treatment that doesn’t possess as many advantages as spray foam. Please see our article on Cellulose vs. SPF for more explanation.

10. Can I install it myself?

There are kits available which spray a similar product from two pressurized containers, however the material cost alone generally amounts more per unit of volume than what we charge to prep, install, and cleanup. That’s not even considering your labor, and that’s assuming you get 100% yield from the containers, something even the best technicians in the SPF industry can’t achieve.

11. What about rodents and pests?

SPF provides no food value for rodents and pests, so they don’t eat it. That being said, there have been cases of a mouse or rat chewing out a piece of it, or even nesting in it, so it is still important to utilize smart building practices. With spray foam, only the inside of your house is warm in the winter and cool in the summer, so unless the pests want to sleep in the (cold), on the outside portion of the insulation, they’d be coming from the inside. In that case, we’re probably not going to be your first call.

13. Does spray foam smell or leave odors?

No, the product is relatively inert once cured and odors generally dissipate within a couple of days. If an odor were to take more time to completely leave the building, we can provide ventilation fans to make sure that all remnants of the harmless odor are gone. The more ventilation we can provide during the application, the more quickly installation odors will be unnoticeable. Ask us more about what we can do to minimize the impact of odors in your home or building.

14. If it’s safe and “green”, why do you wear a respirator and hazmat style suit?

As spray foam is applied, it expands to around 100 times it’s volume in the first 3-4 seconds. If one were to inhale the unexpanded foam during application, it could cause respiratory distress, so we wear masks. The coveralls, gloves, and head coverings simply keep the foam from sticking to our clothes, arms, and hair, making clean-up quick and easy.

15. Is it code approved?

Yes, spray foam is approved by both the International Code Council and TX Uniform Construction Code for unvented attic assemblies and all insulation applications, both above and below grade. The only issue that occasionally arises is that of ignition barriers, but in that case, please see the FAQ on fire safety for more information. Closed cell spray foam is approved for use in areas of the structure subject to flooding. Closed cell foam is also on the FEMA approved list for flood prone structures.

16. What about R-values?

What a misguided question… Seriously though, R-values are a system for determining the resistance of a material to it’s conductive transmission of heat. The problem is that R-values are only tested in a laboratory, with zero air flow, not in your home, with real world conditions. SPF insulation not only has the highest R-value of any insulation system (closed cell), but it also stops air infiltration, so you actually get the R-value you paid for, much like in the lab. The same cannot be said for other insulation systems. Consider reading up on “U-factor” from which R-Values are derived, and check out some of the articles in our Resources page for further explanation on the myths of R-values.

17. How do I get started?

Give us a call at 512-368-9170 and we’ll be happy to discuss with you the many benefits of Spray Foam Insulation, as well as the applicable state and federal rebates. If you so choose, please take the time to read our article on “What are the steps to insulating my home with Spray Foam Insulation”
What are the applications of Spray foam?

  • insulation
  • air sealing
  • foundation waterproofing
  • noise/sound control
  • roofing
  • marine flotation
  • duct insulation & sealant
  • commercial refrigeration applications
  • structural reinforcement
  • movie/tv/theatrical set construction
  • many other uses

What about harsh chemicals?

Spray foam contains chemicals that, when in uncured form, aren’t necessarily something you’d want your child to play with on a daily basis, however, it does not contain anything all that h3 or immediately dangerous to people. We work with it on a daily basis and are well versed in all of the necessary safety precautions. The cured foam is relatively inert.
Spray foam is a mixture of 2 different components, and the cured, finished product shares little similarity to the raw ingredients.
For instance, Sodium is explosive, and Chlorine is poison. Put them together and you get Sodium Chloride (Table Salt).

What are open cell/closed cell/soy foams?

There are essentially three options for spray foam insulation, depending on the application. There is open cell foam, closed cell foam, and soy based versions of either. We can explain to you in detail why one foam or another is right for your particular application. Feel free to also read the article about spray foam types on our resources page.

Do you offer other Energy Improvements?

We can offer you everything from tips on improving your home’s energy efficiency to providing a full service solution to all your energy efficiency and sustainability needs. We believe h3ly in the ability of homeowners, with a little help, to save energy and make smarter, greener choices for the way in which they live.

Is Spray Foam Corrosive to Metals?

No, Spray Foam is non-corrosive.

How is spray foam insulation priced?

Open Cell foams are generally priced lower that Closed cell foams, and the installed cost is primarily based on the volume of material used. The Board Foot, a term used in the lumber industry, is generally used to measure the necessary volume of spray foam needed for an application. 1 Board Foot (BF) is one square foot, one inch think.

On estimates, Spray Foam Austin determines the appropriate foam for the job, then measures for volume and adjusts for worksite and access conditions, as well as any special circumstances, to determine an estimated price for the work. In contrast to some other contracting businesses, the material cost is much higher than the labor cost, so we are meticulous in our measurements and estimates. Volume discounts apply for larger jobs.

42. What about flooding?

Closed cell spray foam is rated class 5 (most flood resistant) under FEMA guidelines. In fact, closed cell spray foam is the ONLY acceptable insulation material listed by FEMA under flood resistant building material guidelines.