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. 

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I employed a company to insulate my three story house in 2011. They started Insulating it in August of 2011...They said it would be a 3-4 day job. They installed it in 0.5"-8" lifts all in the same cavity, this left burned insulation and voids. They removed what they told me was the bad insulation and in the process cut many electrical wires. They fixed this. They then reinstalled too thick again in some spots and removed again. They then installed it for a 3rd time. The areas that I thought were good are now separating from the structural members leaving voids. As of October 2012, 1 year and 2 months of dealing with the contractor I told them I want proof that what has been installed carries a warranty or I want my money back and I will fix the problems myself. They have yet to provide me with this warranty. I have spent many hours in the house looking at what is bad and they need to fix. I am frustrated, 14 months of additional rent due to their negligence. I would like to know how I can get proof that the product carries the manufacturers lifetime warranty, or has it been installed improperly throughout the entire house. Desperately awaiting your response. 
I had a hole in the drywall in our bathroom that was about 2 in x 5 in that I used Great Stuff to fix. I am impressed with the characteristics of the filler. It filled the hole completely in a few seconds of application. I will warn anyone using it though to make sure you don't fill the hole entirely flush to the wall because this stuff continues expanding after you apply it. I didn't think about that but no big deal really because you can sand it which is exactly what I did, and then applied spacial and paint and it is almost as good as new. For the price this was a heck of a deal because I only used a tiny amount and now am left with nearly a full can. I guess I will have to find somewhere else to use it now. Great product, ... full review
Spray polyurethane foam, or SPF, is the main type of 2-part, closed-cell spray foam used by insulation contractors. Large-scale insulation jobs require special equipment as well as safety gear to protect the installer from chemical fumes during installation. When the foam cures and hardens just several minutes after application, it's completely safe for as long as it stays in place.

I just received this and it worked well for me. It works well for small gaps (around windows, between studs), but probably not the right tool for larger gaps (>1" or 2"). If used in larger gaps, it works OK if it is layered in. Spray a little and wait for it to set, then layer another on top, etc... This is pretty much noted by the seller. It is pretty much exactly as described and priced right, so 5 stars. If you need to do larger gaps, buy 2 part.

Spray Foam Existing Wall


We live in middle TN and had our house foamed last year. We noticed recently that some of the foam was shrinking and seperating from the floor joists. We contacted the installer and he informed us that the manufacturer had a problem with a batch of foam during the time frame we had our house sprayed. The contractor wasn't sure if we had the recalled batch installed in our house or not. He said he would check the batch numbers and let us know. He seems like a nice guy promising to do whatever it takes to fix any problems. Do we trust him, however, to be truthful about the batch number? Do we have any options for finding out the information ourselves? I inspected the entire crawl space of the house and noticed approximately (5) areas that were seperating and a couple areas where the foam didn't adhere to the block. Do I assume by it being so infrequent that it is nothing to be concerned about? My concern is the walls that are not capable of being visually inspected because of sheetrock.
Excellent kit for insulating a house. Slow rising foam takes longer to insulate an area as you must do it in layers 1" thick. Any thicker can overheat the chemicals and prevent a proper cure and off-gassing. Recommend purchasing a second suit and nozzles so you can use it multiple days to achieve the thickness desired for the highest R value. Seals up and insulates much better than traditional fiberglass. The sound suppression is noticeably different. Used it to insulate the ceiling above our bedroom. The sound is remarkably more quiet than the fiberglass insulation we had before. The only down side is the weight of the containers. Using a smaller kit would be easier to handle and move around when spraying a ceiling in an attic. A word of caution, use plywood that spans at least 2 joist per container when spraying in an attic to hold the weight.
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.  
If you're chemically sensitive, it's probably not a good idea to get it installed, but it's also not a good idea to breathe musty air from the crawl space either. In addition, your house and its contents are made of lots of materials that affect your indoor air quality. If you're really concerned about this, hire a company to test your air and tell you what you can do about it.
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A: It can be applied in the similar manner that we apply paint. We can use a paint roller to apply it without any hassle and use of special tools. You can also check the specific manual of instructions from the maker for particular directions. You should also check if it requires single or double coating or the use of a primer before its application.
OK, Peter, I finally went back and read Alex Wilson's article on what he perceives as a serious problem. I haven't seen the full report, but based on the summary he wrote on the Green Building Advisor website, I question the science. It seems to me that he's chosen the wrong metric and he's basing his conclusion on too many assumptions because he doesn't have enough data. You can see my comments at the end of his article. http://m.youtube.com/embed/ggLAUsiuI_o
Allison--would be very interested in your take on the GHG issues of foams, which have received lots of smart commentary recently. To highlight a few: architect Jesse Thompson's comments on Tom's Good vs Bad post on Energy Circle, the very thorough piece by Alex Wilson on Green Building Advisor and Michael Anschel's cautionary diatribe on Remodeling. 

Thank you, Allison. We have a split system unit (actually 5) with the heat being propane. The foam guy said that it needed ventilation, so completely sealing the attic wouldn't be a good idea. It sounds like you are saying that the systems need to be vented out of the attic or replaced with some type of closed system. But I shouldn't bother spraying if the plan is to leave the soffet vents open. Is that correct?

Spray foam insulation, like other insulation, saves on energy costs and lowers utility bills. Studies by the US Department of Energy show that 40% of a home's energy is lost as the result of air infiltration through walls, windows and doorways. Buildings treated with spray foam insulation insulate as much as 50% better than traditional insulation products.
When it comes to insulating the house, fiberglass tends to be the common form of insulation. However, after comparing fiberglass and spray foam insulation, it’s shocking how fiberglass tends to be the lesser of the two. Although it has deemed reliable over the years, there are way more benefits to insulating your home with spray foam. One of those benefits includes regulating the temperature of your house. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggLAUsiuI_o

A: It can be applied in the similar manner that we apply paint. We can use a paint roller to apply it without any hassle and use of special tools. You can also check the specific manual of instructions from the maker for particular directions. You should also check if it requires single or double coating or the use of a primer before its application.


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If you cut the nails holding one of the corner studs to the bottom plate and the top plate with a Sawzall, you can use a flat bar (or a flat bar plus a wrecking bar) to pull the stud off the sheathing nails. Either re-use the stud, or buy a new stud, and install the stud with toenails as shown in the link I provided in Comment #51 (this link: Outside corner detail).


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."
I don't even want to ask this question but... several years ago we hired a local contractor to spray high density foam on the roof deck and walls of our unfinished 2nd floor. We realized that the job was done poorly and cut an access into the attic space to assess things. We realize now that they spray foamed directly to the chimney (no flashing). The chimney is currently used for a woodstove and DHW venting. The DHW will go away but wood stove will remain. My question is, how bad (unsafe) is this? I have found information on foam exposure to fire but have not been able to find anything about temperature ratings in general (i.e. what happens on prolonged exposure to high temperatures).

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