I am building a house in Central Texas (Caldwell). Several builders are cautious about using foam insulation and/or a closed attic. I would like to use both. Here in Texas, heat and humidity (except for the past few years of drought) are a continuing problem. Which type of foam would be the best to use in our home, where should the vapor barrier be or should be use one at all, if we are using fans in the exterior walls to supply fresh air to the house, do we need a vented attic or will it cause more problems than it solve? I have printed out your article and the blogs to give to my contractors and architect, but I would really appreciate your comments on the products being used in my part of the US. 

This tropic heat actually is the cause that the steel structure, which most roofs in that part of the world are built on, expands and contracts all the time. By doing so, the sun-battered steel structure causes the roof tiles to dislodge and slowly creates small openings between the roof tiles, through which rain water can run into, creating leaks that can cause much damage to plastered ceilings and electric wiring.

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The video below is from a house near Charleston, South Carolina that I visited recently, and you'll see that the homeowner in this case didn't get his money's worth. I knew immediately when I walked into the attic that something was wrong because it was hot up there. In a properly insulated spray foam attic, the temperature won't be much higher than the house temperature. 
NOVA Spray foam did just as they promised and, more importantly, for the price they quoted. The two employees who ultimately installed the product were very nice, pleasant, and respectful. Bottom line: We are delighted with the install. Our house now holds a more stable temperature and no longer has hot spots. It used to be very difficult to cool our upstairs bedrooms; those days are gone! Pocketbook issues: For the last three billing cycles we have used approximately one third less electricity as the AC does not come on as often. Would we do this again? Yup! Do we recommend this installer? Yup! Do the neighbors think it’s cool? Yup!

There is a significant price difference when it comes to using foam insulation to insulate a new versus older home. Spraying insulation inside a newly constructed home is easier because the installation company can ensure the insulation will work effectively and design it for optimum defense against sound, heat transfer and utility costs. Installing spray foam in older homes that contain existing insulation can cost additional time and money -- it is not usually recommended as compared to weatherization or an energy aduit.


Sporadic cases of hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP) have also been reported in workers exposed to isocyanates. The symptoms may seem like the flu, with fever, muscle aches, and headaches. Other symptoms may include a dry cough, chest tightness, and difficult breathing. Individuals with chronic HP often experience progressively more difficult breathing, fatigue, and weight loss. Individuals with acute HP typically develop symptoms 4–6 hours after exposure.[4]
If your foam pulled away just a little bit, Jamie, and they were able to fix it with just a little bit of touching up, then it wasn't as bad as the house where I saw this problem. As the last photo above shows, it had pulled away significantly from the studs and rafters, and it was all over the house. This was closed cell foam, and interestingly, it didn't pull away from the horizontal framing members, just the vertical and sloped ones. They did some touch up, but that wasn't enough. I don't know how this one ended up getting resolved. I think maybe the contractor came back and sprayed cellulose on top of the foam.
Open-cell is also known as half-pound foam. It has an R-Value of 3.5-3.6 per inch, and its density is bout 0.5 pounds per cubic food. Low-density foams like these are made partially from raw biological materials Carbon dioxide or water is also used in the makeup. Open-cell uses far less material than closed-cell, but its R-Value is lower. Also, open cell requires a vapor retarder (like gypsum wallboard) and is riskier when used for roof sheathing. It's not highly recommended that you use open-cell insulation if you live in a cold climate unless you have that extra barrier. You should also compare how much money you spend versus how effective the open-cell insulation is wherever it's installed. http://y2u.be/ggLAUsiuI_o
Q. "I talked to a building product supplier for WALLTITE spray foam, he is suggesting to use 2" or 3" of closed cell-spray foam in the joists areas instead of the batts insulation. He says it will work with outboard rigid insulation. There is a location of a cantilevered floor area with steel beam so I may need to use spray foam to protect the steel beam. It would then be convenient continue to spray in the floor joist cavities and then apply 5" of polyiso outboard of the bottom cantilever floor sheathing."
Spray foam insulation or spray polyurethane foam (SPF) is an alternative to traditional building insulation such as fiberglass. A two-component mixture composed of isocyanate and polyol resin comes together at the tip of a gun, and forms an expanding foam that is sprayed onto roof tiles, concrete slabs, into wall cavities, or through holes drilled in into a cavity of a finished wall.

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I used this product to seal and insulate my rim joists as I am finishing the basement. The builder used R13 batt insulation when we built the house 3 years ago. I use a dehumidifier to control moisture in the basement which is below grade. The setting I use is 55%. The dehumidifier kicks on periodically and requires emptying every few days. Since using the foam all around the house on the rim joists and sill plate, the dehumidifier has stayed at 50% for over two weeks since spraying and rarely turns on anymore. I also put the original R13 batt insulation back up after the foam cured.


Starting a new build (1 1/2 basement walkout), all 2x6 exterior walls w/ brick veneer in CZ3. Above grade, would like to do spray foam in 2x6 walls, 1/2" or 1" of rigid foam board on the exterior, and a 1" air gap. Will this require a house wrap or can I do w/o the rigid foam and go with a housewrap? Also, any recommendations about insulation strategies for the finished basement. Thanks!

once the foam is installed correctly, it is a inert plastic not much different than the foam cushions you sit on. there is not a health rick unless you have off ratio uncured foam that has not mixed properly. the foam is absolutely a health risk in its raw forms before it is mixed and cured. You should not be in the building without proper respirators and eye protection. The spray foam industry should be controlled and regulated by the same standards, testing and inspections that framing ,electrical and plumbing are. until that happens then you will have idiots with spray rigs ruining peoples homes and ruining the market for honest foam contractors that know how to price a job fairly and complete it correctly.
The United States has adapted to using sprayfoam insulation and a new technology called Wall Injection to retrofit existing wall construction by drilling small holes between wall studs in the structures framing and filling the void with a less aggressive expanding water based foam. This allows existing home and business owners to conserve energy by creating a thermal envelope in their existing structure.
Light-density open-cell SPF is commonly known as half-pound foam. It is a semi-rigid material with a sponge-like appearance that expands during installation and creates small, open cells that are filled with carbon dioxide. Due to its ability to expand during the application process, it fills cracks, crevices and voids and adheres to irregular surfaces or substrates to form an air sealing insulation.[12]

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Jennifer, I'm not an expert on the health effects of closed cell foam. A lot of people live in houses with closed cell foam and have no health problems from it, at least not short-term, acute problems. I do know of one person who had it removed from her crawl space because she was convinced it caused her dog to get sick, but I know only what she told me.  
Yes, a new roof should be coated if the building owner wants to add a highly reflective roof coating to reduce energy costs. The buyer should be aware of any warranties provided for a new roof that may violate that warranty during the period it is in force via the use of a roof coating. This will extend the roof’s service life. A reflective roof coating will reduce the heat load on the roofing assembly. http://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=ggLAUsiuI_o

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That’s $58.3 Billion dollars. That’s roughly how much money we wasted in 2010 in the US according to the Department of Energy because of air leaking out of our building envelopes. If your building leaks energy, you’re paying more for energy than you need to. Clearly you’re not alone. If you’re ready to claim your share of the savings, it’s quicker and easier than you think.

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It also has a great waterproofing ability that can shield the roof’s membrane from water and moisture damage. You can also count on the liquid roof coating for its outstanding performance for a wide range of applications and uses. This product can be used at tears and seams as well as in sealing air conditioners and venting systems and anywhere else where rubberized coating is needed. http://youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=ggLAUsiuI_o
Some states, municipalities and utilities have programs. Check with your coatings manufacturer for further information. As a membership benefit, RCMA provides maintains a database of current information on rebates and tax credits for installing reflective roofs. RCMA’s customized search tool can be used to find the most up-to-date listings of reflective roofing financial incentives available.

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