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Types of Foam Insulation

by | Mar 17, 2017

At RetroFoam of Southwest Michigan, we strive to offer our customers the best possible comprehensive insulation solutions for their homes, barns, and other structures. That’s why we carry a variety of different foam insulation materials—not just our namesake product.

Each type of foam we provide has its own advantages and disadvantages, so we work closely with you to determine what your needs are and which product is going to serve you best. Read on to learn more about the different types of foam we offer.

RetroFoam

If you want to dramatically improve the insulation in your home with a minimal amount of fuss—no pulling out walls, no rearranging furniture, no remodels—you can’t beat it.

RetroFoam is a non-expanding foam that is specifically designed for existing structures, including weatherside, stucco, brick, veneer, and more. We inject the product directly into the wall cavity, filling voids and even compressing existing fiberglass batt insulation.

RetroFoam offers an R-value (a measurement of thermal resistance) of 4.2 per inch, meaning walls with 2x4 studs can achieve a total R-value up to around 16, and 2x6 studs up to around 23. By comparison, fiberglass insulation only achieves up to around R-11, and that’s if there are no gaps (which are common, especially if the batting is poorly installed). Furthermore, fiberglass tends to lose thermal resistance at temperatures below 20 degrees, making it less effective in icy conditions. RetroFoam, by contrast, actually gets more effective as temperatures drop.

RetroFoam does have a few minor drawbacks compared to other polyurethane foams that we offer. Because it doesn’t expand and can shrink very slightly, you may not achieve a perfect seal. Furthermore, other foams can achieve slightly higher R-values. However, the main advantage is that it delivers great insulation at unbeatable convenience—no tearing out walls, minimal clean-up, and most homes can be completed within a day of work.

Polyurethane Foam

Let’s say you’re in the middle of a remodel, or you’re completing repairs after fire or water damage, and you need to replace your insulation and drywall. Or perhaps you’re looking to insulate your pole barn, roof deck, or any other location where you don’t intend to close the walls. In those circumstances, we’ll generally recommend other types of foam that can offer slightly better performance.

  • Open cell polyurethane. We use a product called ProFill on many home walls, especially those with 2x6 studs. We first staple a fabric to the wall, the inject the foam inside. Because ProFill is an expanding foam, it fills all voids and creates an effective seal, and can achieve slightly higher R-values than RetroFoam. We also provide a open-cell foam product that’s perfect for roofs, ceilings, and walls you don’t plan on closing up, like barns or attics.
  • Closed cell polyurethane. This foam product is the hardest, strongest, and most thermally resistant product we carry, with an R-value of 7.3 per inch. That makes it an ideal choice for thin walls with 2x4 studs that don’t have much room for insulation. Closed cell polyurethane also has other advantages: it can actually strengthen the rigidity and structural integrity of the wall by a factor of 10, and it forms a complete barrier against vapors and liquids. However, there is a downside: because it’s rigid instead of squishy and permeable like open cell polyurethane, it’s not as effective at dampening sounds.

When you bring us out for an inspection or estimate, we’ll help you sort through the pros and cons of each foam insulation product so that you can make the best choice for your home and lifestyle. Because we carry multiple types of foam, we can handle all your insulation needs throughout your entire house and property—for example, RetroFoam on the existing walls, ProFill for your new addition, and thicker open cell for your barn.

Use our online form for a free estimate, or give us a call today at (269) 751-2000. Let us help you solve your insulation issues, get your warm and cozy home back, and save money every month on energy costs!