Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) insulation is being used more and more in recent times. Frequently it is referred to as water-blown foam or by the brand name Icynene. It is a modern spray-on insulation material that expands and solidifies once applied. SPF insulation is lauded for its “green” qualities. It has become the insulation of choice for many homeowners who are going green and building energy efficient homes. There are many attributes of SPF insulation that make it such an excellent insulation material:
- Most SPF foams do not contain formaldehyde and emit minimal amounts of VOCs compared to more traditional insulation.
- The expansive quality of SPF insulation fills gaps and stops air leakage. Preventing air leakage can be problematic for traditional types of insulation.
SPF insulation generally has a greater R-value (a measure of insulation effectiveness) than that of traditional insulating materials.
Many, including the EPA, praise the positive attributes of SPF insulation, but doe it have negative qualities?
Strictly speaking, foam based spray insulation is not VOC free. However, the levels of VOC are so minute that they are negligible.
According to David Price, an environmental scientist in the EPA’s Office of Air and Radiation, “no cause-effect relationship has yet been found between SPF installation and post-occupancy illnesses.” The issue is largely overblown and for most people, the little outgassing that does happen will have no health effects and will rapidly dissipate.
Remember that installation is very important when dealing with SPF insulation. The quality and durability of the insulation, to some degree, depends on the installation process. Certified installers must be used.