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Spray Foam Insulation: Residential vs. Commercial

Photos courtesy of SprayWorks Equipment Group

Whether installed commercially or residentially, spray foam offers a range of benefits. From maximizing efficiency to reducing operating costs, the advantages of spray foam — also known as spray polyurethane foam, or SPF — are clear.

Both open- and closed-cell spray foam offer unique benefits to homeowners and commercial business owners that cannot be found with traditional insulation methods, so let’s take a look at some of the key aspects.

Open-Cell Spray Foam

As a general rule of thumb, open-cell foam is used above-grade, and it may need a vapor retarder depending on the climate zone in which it is being sprayed. It is also used as an air barrier and is designed to reduce noise levels.

Open- and closed-cell insulation are similar in nature. The main distinction between the two lies in the R-value, which refers to the material’s ability to resist heat flow and provide insulation. The R-value of open-cell spray foam is much lower than closed-cell spray foam.

Open-cell foam is designed with higher amounts of blowing agent, which results in burst cells. Because of its expansion properties, open-cell spray foam isn’t as water-resistant and doesn’t contain as tightly packed cells as closed-cell spray foam. Providing less support for walls than closed-cell spray foam, open-cell spray foam is more porous and less resistant to gas and air flow as well. The lightweight, expanding properties of open-cell spray foam make it the ideal solution for insulating areas in a home or business that are difficult to get to.

Closed-Cell Spray Foam

Closed-cell foams can be used above and below grade in any climate zone and are considered an air barrier and a Class II vapor retarder. With a higher R-value per square inch (6.5 cm2) than open-cell spray foam, closed-cell spray foam provides more insulation and structural strength.

In addition, due to its increased resistance, closed-cell spray foam helps minimize mold growth. The density of closed-cell spray foam prevents water seepage, which, in turn, protects the insulation from the development of mold.

Residential Spray Foam Insulation

Residential spray foam has a variety of advantages for a home and its long-term energy costs. Some of the benefits of residential spray foam include:

Energy efficiency: Open- or closed-cell insulation, when applied to gaps around windows, will increase a home’s overall energy efficiency. Pairing this with other measures, such as installing energy-efficient windows and increasing roof thickness by 1 inch (2.5 cm), can significantly reduce energy costs.

Structural strength: Closed-cell spray foam is dense and rigid, and it can provide increased structural strength for a home.

Mold resistance: Spray foam insulation is water resistant and provides a protective barrier that helps prevent water from seeping into the insulation. Thus, it helps to prevent mold and bacteria from developing in the home.

Spray foam insulation provides an efficient option for home insulation, and it offers lasting efficiency and monetary benefits.

Commercial Spray Foam Insulation

When considering insulation methods for commercial space, efficiency is an important factor. Choosing the most effective long-term insulation solution for a business is designed to ensure that the company’s heating and cooling costs remain as minimal as possible.

Fortunately, spray foam’s expansive characteristics will help reduce overall labor and material costs when building and maintaining a commercial space. Indeed, installing SPF insulation in a commercial space can help address both insulation and condensation issues, all while also providing air-sealing and noise-dampening properties. Benefits include:

Noise-dampening: Open-cell spray foam softens surfaces to reduce their echo and prevent the passage of sound from one area to another.

Weather-resistant insulation: Need to make a commercial space more resistant to cold weather? Closed-cell spray foam insulation is a sealant that helps make a building as energy efficient as possible by trapping warm temperatures and locking out cold temperatures in the winter. This ultimately makes a building impermeable to water.

Reduced condensation: Preventing condensation in attics and crawl spaces is essential to stop the growth of mold. It also helps to prevent other damage in storage spaces for a business. Closed-cell spray foam insulation will provide a water-resistant sealant for areas that are prone to moisture.

Ultimately, open- and closed-cell spray foam allow clients to solve multiple issues while also providing a number of preventive benefits for a commercial space. From energy efficiency to mold resistance to increased structural support, spray foam insulation is among the most efficient insulation options available in today’s market.

For any home or commercial space needing greater energy efficiency and sustainability, spray foam should be a viable option.

About the Author

John Davidson is vice president of operations and partner at SprayWorks Equipment, a leading supplier of spray foam and coatings equipment, rigs, material, training, repairs and tech support. With more than 100 years of combined experience, the SprayWorks Equipment team is made of experts in all things spray foam and coatings. 

For more information, contact: SprayWorks Equipment, (330) 302-1891,

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