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Open Cell and Closed Cell Foam Insulation:
Open and closed cell foam are two different types of spray foam insulation. They have different strengths and weaknesses, and one is not necessarily better than the other. It comes down to understanding the benefits of open cell and closed cell foam and choosing the type that fits your needs.
Let’s start by looking at the differences between open and closed cell foams.
A spray insulation is referred to open cell or closed cell because of the difference between the small bubbles (cells) that make up the foam.
Open cell foam is full of cells that aren’t completely encapsulated. In other words, the cells are deliberately left open. This makes the foam a softer, more flexible material.
Closed cell foam is made up of cells that are, as the name suggests, completely closed. The cells are pressed together, so air and moisture are unable to get inside the foam. Because of this, closed cell foam is more dense than open cell foam.
This is one of the most important differences from an application standpoint. Closed cell foam is designed to expand to about 1″ of thickness when sprayed which is a 20-1 expansion ratio. Open cell foam is designed to expand to 3″ of thickness which is a 100-1 expansion ratio, meaning only one application is possible in most standard walls.
What Do All These Terms and Ratings Actually Mean?
At this point, you might be still be trying to decipher which type of foam insulation is right for your project. Here’s a quick summary of open cell and closed cell foam strengths and the best applications for each:
Benefits of Closed Cell Foam
Its rigid nature also adds to the structural integrity of the building. The closed cell also acts as a water proof barrier, so water and moisture will be less likely to get inside the home, and the foam itself is unharmed by water damage.
Benefits of Open Cell Foam
One of the biggest benefits of open cell foam is that it expands so much after it has been applied, meaning it can insulate hard to reach nooks and crannies in a home. These types of areas can be hard to insulate with closed cell foam. Open cell foam is excellent for soundproofing where a single application can completely fill the area between studs.
Ultimately, it depends on where a building is located, what the insulation goals are. Need some more help deciding between open cell and closed cell foam?
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