Open or Closed Cell Foam: Which is Best for My Home?

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So, you've decided to go with spray foam insulation and improve the energy efficiency in your home, but now you have another decision to make: Should I use open cell or closed cell spray foam?

By now, you've probably done the research and already know that spray foam insulation is a great heat barrier, but what you may NOT already know is that is can also stop the flow of air, keeping your home from leaking air. This helps to keep the air in your home more comfortable and contribute to lowering energy bills.

Open and closed cell foam are both types of spray foam insulations, but there are distinct differences between the two in their efficiencies in homes, how they work, and how they’re applied.

InsulUSA has been insulating homes and commercial building since 2013. With our focus on spray foam insulation you can trust us to teach you more about which type of spray foam will work best for each application.

Let’s dig in and figure which type of spray foam is best for you and your application.

Open Cell vs. Closed Cell Foam Insulation

OPEN CELL AND CLOSED CELL SPRAY FOAM DIFFERENCES

Open cell spray foam insulation is lightweight, malleable, and easier to work with than closed cell spray foam which is hard, dense, and not easy to work with.

Depending on the application, each of these have their advantages and disadvantages. For instance, if you’re adding spray foam to a home that is needing to install new electrical wiring, open cell spray foam would be your product of choice because it isn’t rigid like closed cell foam which would allow you to run the new electrical wiring easier.

In contrast, if you’re insulating a metal shop building, closed cell foam’s hard and dense structure makes it a more viable product because of its durability.

HOW MUCH DO OPEN CELL AND CLOSED CELL SPRAY FOAM EXPAND?

The expansion rates for open cell spray foam can be as high as 100 times over, making it an ideal option for homes, because it can work its way into tight places. Closed cell spray foam’s expansion rate is very minimal in comparison to open cell.

DOES OPEN AND CLOSED CELL SPRAY FOAM CREATE AN AIR SEAL?

The short answer is – Yes. Both forms of spray foam provide an air seal eliminating drafts, heating/cooling loss, and moisture. We recommend a minimum depth of 2 inches when using closed cell spray foam, and 3 inches when using open cell spray foam.

WHICH SPRAY FOAM IS A BETTER INSULATOR?

With closed cell foam being more dense than open cell foam, it naturally has a higher R-value.  However, in application this can be offset, with typical application depths. The typical application depth for closed cell foam is 2 inches, while the typical depth for open cell is 3 inches. When compared, the heat flow resistance is very similar.

HOW MUCH DOES OPEN CELL AND CLOSED CELL SPRAY FOAM COST?

Installation of open cell spray foam is typically the less expensive route, however there are many variables that affect the overall cost of a spray foam job. Closed cell foam is typically more expensive because it costs more to produce and has to be applied in thinner coats which can require more passes ultimately increasing the amount of labor involved which increases the cost.