Spray Foam Insulation vs. Traditional Insulation - Which is better?

Insulation In House

When you need to get an insulation job done, it's easy to turn to the same materials you've always used. But is the same old thing always the right choice for the job? Spray foam insulation has been around for several decades, but is often passed by for batting or blown-in insulation. But when you need specific issues addressed in a project, spray foam can often be the better choice. How do you know which one will be the best choice for your next project? Here is some information to help get you started.

Traditional Insulation

Regular Fluff Insulation On Side of The House

Traditional insulation includes fiberglass and cellulose batting, blankets and blown-in material. It primarily works by creating numerous air pockets within the wall, each of which contributes to the overall performance of the material. In northern climates, to achieve sufficient R-value, or resistance to losing or gaining heat, the wall cavity often must be expanded to provide sufficient insulation using traditional materials to keep a structure at a steady temperature without excessive heating or cooling bills.

If water leaks through the roof, as condensation or through a leaking pipe, traditional insulation materials may begin to degrade. This not only causes poor insulation performance, it can also lead to mold and mildew in cellulose-based insulation if the material is not treated for this issue. If the insulation is in an attic that is accessed, it can be packed down unintentionally, lowering the R-value and the overall efficiency of the material. Cellulose can also settle over time, requiring additional material be added to the top of the existing insulation. This is also a problem in blown-in wall systems, requiring some amount of repair work to the wall once the insulation has been added. However, despite these drawbacks, traditional insulation is also less expensive, making it a popular choice for many building projects.

Spray Foam Insulation

Spary Foam Insulation In House

But what about when you need better performance from your insulation? Spray foam delivers up to twice the R-value in the same space, making it a good option when you don't want to build out thick walls or are doing a retrofit and are dealing with thinner wall cavities. It also does an exceptional job of sealing cracks and small gaps, preventing drafts and cold air from entering the structure. Spray foam starts out in a liquid state and sets up within a few hours into a hardened foam, so you don't need to worry about it settling and compromising your wall system's R-value.

Spray foam insulation is more expensive per square foot. It also requires specialized equipment that you may not be able to use on other projects, so unless you're focusing on doing a lot of spraying, other options may work better for your situation.

As you can see, spray foam insulation offers a wide range of benefits that traditional insulation can't compare to, but it also has its own drawbacks. Spray foam has a wide range of benefits that can make a big difference on a job where performance is key, but traditional insulation can be less expensive when budget is an issue. If you need help deciding which type of insulation is right for your next project, please feel free to contact our experienced associates today for assistance. At Wallboard Supply Company, our job is making sure New England contractors can get their job done quickly, efficiently and effectively.


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Wallboard Supply Company is a third generation, family run business that has been serving New England's building needs since 1970. Bob Filion started the company with a commitment to provide quality drywall and finishing products with unmatched customer service. The company has grown over the years, expanding its' product range, but never wavering from its' core values.