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Spray Foam Insulation

What Type Of Spray Foam Insulation Should I Use?

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There are two types of spray foam insulation available on the market: open cell spray insulation and closed cell spray insulation. Most spray foams that are used in the UK until recently consist of polyurethane.

A new product called Icynene has emerged on the market is now often considered the preferable choice by professional contractors. Here we’ll be taking a look at the type of spray foam insulation you should use for your property:

Polyurethane: A Closed Cell Form Of Spray Foam

Polyurethane is notoriously eco-unfriendly, although more recently a product recipe involving the use of soya oils rather than petroleum by-products has been developed. It is essentially a plastic product which is made when a blowing agent aggravates the plastic particles causing them to expand and harden within a minute.

The consequence of this is that the insulation is exceptionally water-resistant, more so due to its closed cell structure.

Understanding insulation and density is quite important when grasping how polyurethane and Icynene differ in insulation capacity.

One inch of polyurethane typically insulates as well as about eight inches of wood. As polyurethane is closed cell, vapour transmission is blocked and the foam has no breathability characteristics.

Icynene: An Open-Celled Form Of Spray Foam

Icynene is manufactured from castor oil so does not contain plastics or any other petroleum based by-product. Although Icynene is open cell and therefore acts as a breathable insulator, it does not seal as perfectly as polyurethane. Typically, one inch of Icynene has the insulation effect of about four inches of wood.

Icynene allows the transmission of vapour while still contributing to the insulation of heat and it’s far more eco-friendly that traditional polyurethane. When you grasp how Icynene works as a breathable insulator its advantages become apparent.

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The interesting thing about Icynene is that although it is not impervious to water and air infiltration, it does trap air far more effectively than polyurethane spray foam

Which Type of Spray Foam is Right for My Home?

As spray foam insulation is manufactured on site, several factors will contribute to the decision as to which product is best. Humidity factors, wind, the temperature and the substrate for application will have an influence as to the final outcome and the thickness of the application needed for UK properties.

Polyurethane needs to be manufactured and applied under dry conditions but Icynene does not suffer from this restriction because it’s blown using a water-based formula. In countries such as the UK with a lot of unpredictable cold and inclement weather this solution is ideal. Icynene can insulate and fill spaces and areas that are otherwise impossible to insulate.

Icynene is flexible and doesn’t become rigid like polyurethane. It can also be poured as opposed to sprayed, and also makes a good insulation option for cavity walls. The interesting thing about Icynene is that although it is not impervious to water and air infiltration, it does trap air far more effectively than polyurethane spray foam.

The only real difficulty with Icynene is that it can soak up water and this presents a risk to surfaces that are close to wood. Moisture that migrates through Icynene will impact negatively on insulation value.

Polyurethane has two significant advantages: its impermeability to water and solidity that contributes to building structure and integrity. Icynene is breathable, eco-friendly, and is a good insulation option that can be applied in wet and cold conditions.

Icynene makes a better loft insulation option because it is recommended to have air gaps between the roof tiles and the insulation. Polyurethane is usually sprayed on the roof tiles with no air gap between the tiles and insulation. If there is leftover insulation material, polyurethane is not biodegradable and will blight landfills, which is where excess product usually ends up.

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Icynene makes a better loft insulation option because it is recommended to have air gaps between the roof tiles and the insulation. Polyurethane is usually sprayed on the roof tiles with no air gap between the tiles and insulation

Spray Foam Product Types: Final Thoughts

As Icynene is now freely available in the UK, it should be the preferred product because the environment in which it is both manufactured and applied is far more conducive to its use. With constant wet climates in the UK this option makes perfect sense.

This doesn’t mean that polyurethane shouldn’t be considered, or even on occasion that it shouldn’t be implemented, as there will be occasions that the structural support it provides for a long time to come will override the eco considerations. However, care will have to be taken in ensuring the dry environment and substrate for its application.

It is best to ask your contractor or building consultant about their recommendations as experienced professionals in the field. Simply call 0800 1700 636, or click the button below, to get the ball rolling today!