10 Reasons You Should Pick Foam Instead of Fiberglass Insulation
When most people think “insulation,” the first thing that comes to mind is probably “that pink stuff.” You know what we’re talking about. Rolls of fiberglass batting.
While fiberglass remains the most common type of insulation in service in American homes today, it’s far from an optimal choice.
When you compare it to the alternatives—particularly foam—it really only has one notable advantage: lower initial costs. And that advantage doesn’t even amount to much after a few years, when a better insulation choice will not only have paid for itself, but given you a more comfortable home in the meantime.
But why, specifically, should you choose foam? That’s a long list, but we’ll try to cover the major points. Here’s your quick rundown:
- Foam is just plain better at thermal insulation. When properly installed, fiberglass insulation can give you an R-rating (that’s a measure of thermal resistance; bigger numbers are better) of about R-11 to R-13 in a wood frame wall, depending on whether you have 2x4 or 2x6 studs. Spray foams can achieve anywhere from around R-16 to R-38, depending on which product you choose. That means your home stays cooler in summer and warmer in winter.
- Foam will lower your heating and cooling costs. This should be obvious considering the last point. Even though the cost to install may be higher, the energy savings continue for decades. Depending on what kind of insulation you had before, foam can pay for itself in as little as three or four years. If you’re planning to stick in your house for a while, foam is a no-brainer just from a financial perspective—plus it can increase your home’s resale value if you do move.
- Foam fills all voids, completely or almost completely. Foam doesn’t have to be cut around obstructions or be stacked or stapled together. It simply fills the wall cavity. Expanding foam products can even achieve an effectively perfect seal. Fiberglass, meanwhile, often leaves gaps in corners and around electrical work—especially when not properly installed. This creates “holes” in your insulation where heat can easily penetrate of escape.
- Foam retains its R-value years (or decades) after install. Even when properly installed, fiberglass batts sag and compress over time. This means your insulation will get worse and worse, until it needs to be replaced. Foam is much better at holding its shape and maintaining its R-value over the life of your home.
- Foam is safer to handle. Fiberglass insulation contains fine glass shards and powder that can irritate or damage eyes, lungs, and skin when not handled properly.
- Foam typically provides a better acoustical barrier. Thermal resistance isn’t the only benefit provided by insulation. Sound resistance matters too, whether you’re looking for more privacy or just a way to reduce noise pollution from screaming children, barking dogs, and howling sirens. Most (although not all) foam products dampen sound much better than fiberglass.
- Foam reduces air infiltration. While no insulation can perfectly prevent air infiltration, a typical foam product does a much better job keeping pollen, dust, allergens, and other contaminants out of your home.
- Foam resists mold and water damage. This is especially true for closed cell foams, but it’s a strength for all types. Foam beats out fiberglass in terms of blocking water seepage, vapors, and mold.
- Foam repels pests. A carved-out chunk of fiberglass batting might make a tempting little burrow for a rodent, and isn’t going to be much of a deterrence for determined insects or termites. Foam will do a better job keeping them out.
- Foam can make your house sturdier. Wild, but true! Foam hardens into a lightweight solid component, rather than loose fill. It will make your walls more rigid and stronger, by up to a factor of 10 (seriously!) for the strongest closed cell foams.
At RetroFoam of Southwest Michigan, we carry a wide selection of foam insulation products—closed cell, open cell, different formulas, etc. Each have their own relative strengths and weakness, although all of them beat out fiberglass handily. We can help you figure out which types of foam are going to be the best for each area of your home.
We offer free estimates, so you have nothing to lose by giving us a call! If you’re ready to upgrade your home’s insulation and reap the benefits for years to come, dial (269) 751-2000 today or contact us online.