We’ve all probably crawled around in the attic and are familiar with the typical fiberglass rolls of insulation almost all of our homes have in the ceilings, floors and walls to protect the interior from the cold of winter or the heat of summer. And any homeowner probably also knows a few places in their home where gaps in the insulation let the outside air in, leaving certain places throughout the house uncomfortable on the coldest and hottest days of the year.
Standards are quickly changing, however, and many homeowners, homebuilders and remodelers are replacing their fiberglass insulation with foam and spray-in foam insulation that can completely eliminate gaps in insulation coverage. Moreover, many types of foam insulation also last much longer than fiberglass insulating materials, and spray-in foam insulation also can completely seal a structure, vastly improving indoor air quality and protecting the health of the people living in the home.
While most types of foam insulation initially cost more to install than fiberglass insulation, most experts today agree that energy savings alone will more than pay for the cost differential in a short period of time, and when you add in greater comfort and health benefits foam insulation is by far the preferred route to take.
At Chase Custom Homes of Denver we are constantly monitoring developments in the homebuilding market to bring our custom home clients the very latest in materials and techniques to insure their new home is the one of their dreams. Our research into foam insulation reveals one of the best developments in homebuilding in recent years. Not only is foam insulation a superior product with better insulating properties, but the effect it has on indoor air quality – which qualifies some types of foam insulation for inclusion in LEED sustainable building certification – is a step up from the usual, so it fits nicely into the Chase ideal for the custom home.
There are several types of foam insulation, with the two most prominent being pre-fabricated foam panels that replace the typical fiberglass batting variety, and spray-in foam insulation. After extensive research, Chase Custom Homes believes strongly that the way to go is the spray-in type because of its more complete coverage.
Any insulation, like fiberglass of pre-fab foam, that is placed in walls and between ceiling joists has by nature gaps in its coverage. The material is installed by butting it up against the floor, wall or ceiling studs, leaving air pockets on the side, and even expert installers have a hard time of completely sealing all the spaces around electrical outlets, lighting fixtures, corners, doors and windows.
Spray-in foam insulation, on the other hand, is a material that is typically mixed with water during the installation phase, and it quickly expands to up to 100 times its initial volume. The material expands into every gap, essentially sealing the structure from any exposure from outside air. It completely engulfs the wall studs, plugs and switches, the background of the lightening fixtures, and tightly around all doors and windows.
The interesting thing is that all insulation carries what is known as an R-Value, which is a measure of thermal resistance, but if there are gaps along the edges even insulation that carries a high R-value in and of itself will have a diminished capability to insulate over the area of an entire space. Spray-in foam insulation maintains its full R-Value throughout any space because it expands into any crack or crevasse nearly instantaneously.
Spray-in foam is also one of the only insulation products available that can easily be added to existing homes in a renovation or upgrade, and we highly recommend that use. But if it’s for a new home there is almost no choice – spray-in foam will outperform the competition. As an added bonus, especially on a new custom home, spray-in foam is such a good sealant that the design’s HVAC system, with its built in air-to-air exchanger, will perform as it was designed, not competing with any air penetration allowed in when using typical batting insulation. The results are premium indoor air quality (IAQ), because dust, fiber, pollen and other pollutants have no way in.
These spray-in foam insulations are made of polyurethane or cementitious, which is a chemical precipitate of carbonates with characteristics similar to cement. There are also products on the market made of natural plants, and our favorite is Icynene which is made from castor beans. In any case, the spray-in foam insulation will hold its excellent R-Value for at least twice as long as fiberglass, do a better job all the time, improve indoor air quality, and it won’t pose any environmental concerns at all. Plus, people report that it seals so tightly that even pests like mice and bugs can’t find their way into the home (the foam is not a food source, so they won’t gnaw on it).
At Chase Custom Homes, our research with our contacts in the building, development, remodeling and architectural communities has us convinced that spray-in foam insulation is the best insulating solution on the market today and will, within a few years, be the standard of all construction. Commercial builders have embraced it almost completely, and it won’t be long before fiberglass batting is supplanted in the new-built market.
This kind of attention to detail and monitoring of trends is just a small example of the kind of care Chase Custom Homes brings to each and every dream home project we create and manage. For more information on our work and the beauty of a custom home, visit http://denvercustomhomebuilder.com/