Spray Foam Insulation Pros, Cons and Comparisons

Given how much energy is lost through poorly insulated walls, ceilings and lofts in homes, it is important to invest in the right insulation for your home. However, if you have ever spent any time looking at what’s available out there in the way of insulation, you may have been shocked to discover the wide variety of different options. Spray foam insulation is probably one of the options you’ve come across.

In this post, we compare it to other forms of insulation and look at the pros and cons of each. By the end of this article, you’ll learn how you can tell the difference and whether spray foam insulation – which tends to get positive reviews – is really better than the alternatives.

man installing spray foam insulation

If these are the kind of questions you are asking yourself, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s take a look at how spray foam insulation compares to the most commonly available and popular alternatives.

What is Spray Foam Insulation?

First things first though, let’s explain what is meant by spray foam insulation.

Spray foam is essentially polyurethane foam that is pumped into the ceilings, walls and other cavities where insulation is required in your property. 

It starts life as a liquid and quickly sets into a layer of foam insulation which gives it a lot of flexibility in where it can be used. Generally, it’s used in floors, roofs, walls and lofts.

It’s a very effective insulator which also stops air leaks. But how does it compare to other forms of insulation.

Dense Pack Cellulose Insulation vs Spray Foam

Dense pack cellulose insulation is essentially insulation that is derived from recycled newsprint fibres. Before it is passed on to be used in insulation, it is treated with non-toxic borate, and is made fire retardant.

This has become a popular option among those encouraging people to be more eco-friendly as it is derived from organic material, recycled paper. 

Aside from the green positives and the fact it is not made from any toxic material, the other major advantages dense packed cellulose insulation offers is that it is very inexpensive. 

It also offers the benefit of being effective at reducing noise, which is something you may want to think about if you have problems with sounds passing from one room to the next easily within your property or you wish to block out the noise from your neighbour’s home and block the noise you generate that’s passed through to theirs.

The biggest disadvantage of dense pack cellulose however is the fact it absorbs moisture. While it’s true that this dries out, it still means there is a risk of mould forming. 

Whereas, spray foam insulation is pretty much impenetrable and does not have the same problem with mould (depending on whether you go for open cell or closed cell spray foam which our expert installers can advise on)

Spray Foam vs Rockwool/Batt Insulation Cost 

Batt insulation generally refers to Rockwool insulation, there is usually no difference between them (Rockwool is the brand name – like Hoover is to vacuum cleaners).

batt rockwool fibreglass insulation pink

Other than that, there is a strong argument that because batt insulation comes in ready-made and cut sections, it is much easier to work with, as it can just be laid in place. However, this disadvantage there is also that extra cuts will need to be made to fit awkward areas.

It offers the same advantages as it is an effective form of insulation and when you compare the batt insulation cost to that of spray foam, it does tend to be significantly cheaper. It does carry some safety issues as most of this kind of insulation is flammable.

Spray Foam Insulation vs Fiberglass

Fibreglass, if you are not familiar with it, is a form of fibre consisting of tiny pieces of glass. The reason it is so popular is because it is usually inexpensive compared to many of the other options and carries with it no risks of fire. 

One of the biggest issues, aside from the fact it is simply not as effective as the likes of spray foam, due to it not preventing air from passing through it, is the fact it is an irritant. 

The tiny fibres can scratch at your skin if it is handled and cause itchiness and redness, whereas if it is inhaled or gets into other parts of your body such as your eyes, can cause difficulties with breathing and seeing.

Pros and Cons

Ultimately, we feel that spray foam provides more advantages over the long-term than other forms of insulation do but looking at the list of pros and cons, you can decide for yourself:

Pros of Spray Foam Insulation

  • Highly effective insulation method (more so than wool etc less needed for same effect)
  • Waterproof
  • Can reinforce roofs suffering from nail fatigue
  • Can support cavity walls
  • Efficient – 10cm of spray foam is rough equivalent to 17cm of standard loft insulation (source: National Insulation Association)

Cons of Spray Foam Insulation

  • Bit more expensive usually than other forms of insulation
  • Slightly harder to remove than other forms of insulation

In summary, spray foam is the cream of the crop when it comes to insulation but it ultimately depends on your home and requirements.

Get in touch with our friendly, expert installers in Scotland who are more than happy to help advise you on the best solution for your home. To find out whether spray foam insulation is suitable and for more information, please call our friendly panel of experts today on 0333 577 2555.

By Carla Chalmers

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John Boyd, Aberfoyle, Stirling.

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