There are some spray foam manufacturers and sellers who claim the use of polyurethane foam as an insulator in the home can reduce heating and cooling costs by 30-50%. Of course the actual savings is based upon so many factors, unique in every application, that we couldn’t possibly speculate as to the accuracy of those figures. What we do know, is closed cell spray foam insulation has an R-value of 6.7 in one inch of cured foam. That is a hard fact, no matter what the application.
However, what most people do not know is spray foam insulation can be used very effectively in applications other than walls and attics. It is true, the insulating, sound proofing, sound deadening, moisture resistance, sealing, insect and rodent resistant qualities of polyurethane foam kits are beneficial to so many more areas than most people think. Let’s take a look at all the potential applications for spray foam insulation; no doubt there will be a few that even the most seasoned contractors have not thought of!
Aside from spraying attics and between wall studs, consider insulating the home’s rim joist. By doing so, the interior cavities are better protected from cold/hot air penetration and critter invasions. Crawlspaces are fabulous places for using polyurethane foam; drafts are blocked, insects are kept out, moisture cannot build up and extensive flood damage is prevented. Now how about those older homes where the water pipes are on the outside of the building and at risk of freezing in the cold of winter? Consider the benefits of insulating them with spray foam. Some extreme temperatures will not be suitable (-200F or +200F), but 99% of residential applications will reap huge benefits from this application.
Now contemplate the recreational elements of the home, such as pools, spas, boats, recreational vehicles and trailers. Reducing the costs of heating your pool water by up to half will be easy if the underlying cavity and sides are insulated with polyurethane foam. Campers and trailers are rarely insulated beyond a cursory overlay, resulting in diminished use during the spring and autumn months. Why not extend your annual use of recreational vehicles by adding a layer of spray foam insulation? Plus, don’t forget the spray foam will also help deaden noise from the road. Pleasure boats, dinghies, even yachts can benefit from polyurethane foam. Aside from the insulating qualities, there is added buoyancy. For small vessels like row boats and the kid’s summer dinghy, that could be a great added safety benefit.
In new construction and large renovations there is often a need to fill voids for adding to the structural integrity, sealing up air pockets, smoothing out uneven cavities and insulating HVAC components. Polyurethane foam is the perfect solution for all those needs. It gets into those little spaces and expands until there is nowhere else to go. Even buildings formerly used for storage can be spray foam insulated and converted to residential use. Or how about converting an old van or bus into a recreational vehicle? Insulate it with spray foam and you have a quiet, warm place to sleep while on that summer road trip.
We know one of the qualities of polyurethane foam is the ability to repel moisture, and in turn prevent mildew and mold. In the event of a water problem such as a residential flood or hurricane damage, spray foam will provide a temporary dyke while a more concrete solution can be arranged. Now let’s take that ability to resist liquid one step further, to hazardous materials. Polyurethane foam also resists oil and petrochemicals, which mean it can be used as a temporary hazmat spill containment solution.
Now let’s move on to a more creative avenue. Have you ever been to a museum or theme park where there are displays depicting a prehistoric or outdoor scene including large fake boulders or rock walls? Those boulders are probably made from spray foam insulation. How about a spooky haunted house at an amusement park? Many of the goblins and oddities inside are probably sculpted from spray foam. The same can be done for elaborate stage sets for theatrical and film productions. The builder simply constructs a base from wood, covers it with wire or anything the foam can adhere to, and spray the foam on until there is the right amount of thickness. Then the builder can just carve, sand, and cut the foam until the proper shape and texture is accomplished.
We have covered the mundane construction uses of spray foam, the recreational uses, the sound deadening uses, the buoyancy, the HVAC, filling voids, emergency flood control, hazmat clean up and even theatrical uses. There are probably a few more place spray foam can be useful, but we leave it to you to discover them.