Open Cell Soy Spray Foam Insulation: What You Need to Know
Winter is on the way, which means that now is the time for homeowners to reevaluate their insulation and decide whether or not to upgrade. Insulation is a major necessity in winter, even in some seemingly warmer climes. Without functional, up-to-date protection, those rain and snowstorms will cause leaks that can really wreak havoc on your power bills. If you are considering new insulation, you may have heard of open cell soy spray foam and be wondering whether it’s the right option for you. Here are the answers to some of your most important questions about the substance.
What is open cell soy spray foam?
Open cell spray foam is a material that is used to insulate your home against outside air, moisture and sound. This open cell foam is professionally sprayed into your home, where it dries slowly, allowing the pockets of air in it to pop (thus, the name) and keeping the substance relatively soft and somewhat flexible. While most spray foams are made primarily of petroleum, this variety uses soy as a substitute for a portion of that petroleum.
What if work needs to be done on a wall or ceiling after spray foam installation?
Open cell foam can be worked with in a way that harder material like closed cell foam cannot. If you either know that a space will need work or suspect that it may, open cell foam allows you to perform it after the fact without any major damage or patch-ups.
How does it differ from closed cell spray foam?
Closed cell foam is denser, more resistant to wind and other major weather forces, and more expensive to buy than open cell varieties. It is also usually sprayed in using chemicals, whereas open cell can be sprayed in with water. In terms of R-value, closed cell scores higher at roughly a 6.0, while open cell has about the same level as traditional insulation, at about 3.6.
What is the R-Value and why is it important?
R-value is a grade of heat flow resistance, indicating a substance’s ability to block heat from either leaving or coming into your home. Generally, the higher the R-value, the better insulation will do this job. However, the specific conditions in your area may make a higher R-value unnecessary or make other factors a priority.
Is open cell soy spray foam vapor permeable and how does that help?
Yes, open cell soy spray foam is vapor permeable. This simply means that the material allows a certain number of moisture molecules through. This may seem like a bad thing, but it’s actually pretty necessary to at least an extent. If, for instance, something leaks through the roof, vapor permeable material can allow enough molecules through for drying. A substance that is less vapor permeable can lead to rot and mold when the wood or other building materials don’t dry out.
Is the soy-based insulation actually better for the environment?
Soy insulation has several advantages over the traditional type when it comes to environmental impact. The lower petroleum content means fewer fossil fuels are being pumped out of the earth. Also, the fact that water is used to spray the foam into the home cuts the number of toxins in both your air and the world at large. With closed cell foam, you are spraying chemicals into your home along with the insulation, which can leave them floating around immediately after the work, as well as long-term through a process called off-gassing. This is when the chemicals are slowly released into your home after installation. Water spray-in avoids all of these issues.
If you are looking for an insulation contractor, it’s important to understand your options and how they will work in your particular region. Talk to some local contractors to get estimates, as well as recommendations for which materials would be best for you.