1. What is the difference between “open-cell” & “closed-cell” spray foam insulation?
There are two general categories of SPF insulation materials; open-cell, low-density (‘half-pound foam’) and closed-cell, medium-density (‘two-pound foam’). Both foam categories provide excellent insulation and air sealing. Although both are made using similar chemical reactions, there are some integral physical property differences that often determine which product is chosen for a particular project.
Open-cell spray foam (ocSPF) has an open cell structure where the cells are filled with air. The open-cell structure renders soft, flexible foam, with a density of about 0.5-0.8 pounds per cubic foot (pcf). Still air is the primary insulation medium in ocSPF, fiberglass and cellulose. These insulations work by reducing the natural air movement within these materials, thereby reducing the ability of the material to conduct heat. The R-value per inch of open-cell foam typically ranges from R3.6 to R4.5 per inch. Unlike fiberglass and cellulose, the fine cell structure of ocSPF makes it air-impermeable at certain thicknesses. The air-impermeability of ocSPF qualifies it as an air-barrier material, dramatically reducing air leakage through the building envelope, significantly lowering the building’s heating and cooling costs. ocSPF, like fiberglass and cellulose insulations, is moisture-permeable, and may require the installation of a vapor retarder in colder climates. .
Closed-cell spray foam (ccSPF) has a closed cell structure which yields a rigid, hard foam, with a density of 1.8-2.3 pound per cubic foot (pcf), and has been demonstrated to provide structural enhancement in certain framed buildings. These smaller cells trap an insulating gas, called a blowing agent. This blowing agent has a lower thermal conductivity than still air, and increases the R-value. Typical R-value per inch of closed-cell foam ranges from R5.8 to R6.9* per inch, making it a great choice in applications where clearance is limited. Like ocSPF, ccSPF is also air impermeable at certain thicknesses and and can qualify as an air-barrier material. The closed-cell structure of ccSPF makes it water-resistant, and is the only spray foam that can be used where contact with water is likely (e.g., below-grade concrete walls, in contact with the ground, or on exterior side of the building envelope). At a thickness of 1.5 inches, ccSPF has a moisture permeance typically less than1.0 perms and no additional vapor retarder is required for most applications.
2. Should access to the work area be restricted during and immediately after spray foam installation?
During and immediately following spray foam applications, fumes and mists are generated that can be hazardous to your health. Access to the work area during this time should be restricted to personnel wearing appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), including respirators, and only those whose job responsibilities require them to be in the area.
3. How much does spray foam insulation cost?
In general terms, the installed cost of SPF insulation is greater than that of fiberglass or cellulose insulations, but SPF provides many extra benefits including air barrier and vapor control, as well as improved structural performance. The installed cost of SPF roofing systems is competitive with other roofing systems. Contact Oak Ridge for a personalized estimate for your project.
4. How can I get started as a spray foam contractor?
If you are a roofing or insulation contractor, or your company provides other construction services and is interested in adding high-pressure SPF to your portfolio, it is important to understand that this is a highly technical application. SPF application requires advanced knowledge, skills and abilities that can be obtained from Oak Ridge’s hands-on equipment training and completion of the SPFA Certification program. Improper application of the product can result in chemical exposure to the applicator, as well as the occupants of the structure being insulated. Application of the product without proper training is not recommended.
5. How do I learn to apply foam and Polyurea coatings?
Oak Ridge supplies training for individuals or groups, either at our location or yours. We can tailor classes to meet your unique needs. Classes can focus on the marketing and sales aspects of your services or it can be hands-on, nuts and bolts tutorial about spraying and maintenance, or a combination of the two. Spraying polyurea and foam is not like spraying paints or other coatings so some education is always a good idea before starting out on a project. We are here to help you be successful in every facet of your business. There are also some safety factors that need to be addressed that are unique to high pressure equipment. Call Oak Ridge today – together we can set up a system for you that will exceed your needs and expectations.
6. What types of foam does Oak Ridge supply?
1. Water Blown Foam
Water blown foam is available in 1 pound and 2 pound densities as a standard product, and other densities can be developed for special applications. Water blown foam uses water as the ingredient that causes the foam to rise during application. Water blown foam is more stable in storage and is cleaner and provides more uptime for application equipment. Odor and evolved gasses are also reduced, making water blown foam better for many applications.
2. Gas Blown Foam
Gas blown foam uses a refrigerant liquid to provide foam expansion during application. It is available in a wide range of densities. Gas blown foam is better for low application temperatures and provides ICC approval for projects that require it. Contact Oak Ridge for assistance in choosing the most suitable product for your project.
7. What do I need to apply foam?
Foam consists of two components, the “A” side which is the Isocyanate Catalyst and the “B” or Resin side. These two components are heated in the machine and pressurized to around 1,000psi. The two components are combined at high pressure in the mixing chamber of the gun right before it exits. To apply foam, an operator will need a reactor capable of heating and pressurizing the material, a high pressure heated hose and a spray gun made specifically for two component, high pressure products. Oak Ridge supplies both Graco and PMC reactors, guns and equipment as well as the training, parts and service needed to keep you up and running. Reactors can be supplied to match your required output, products and budget.
8. What if I want a Turn Key Solution?
Oak Ridge builds custom application trailers that contain everything you need to start spraying. Our standard trailer is an 18’ bumper pull trailer with tandem 7,000 pound axles. The trailer is divided into two compartments. The rear compartment houses the generator, compressor and air drying equipment. We highly recommend our combined units that provide a long-life diesel generator with an integrated compressor and air drying unit. These units provide maximum uptime, high quality current for your electronics and reactors and high energy efficiency during extended operation. The front compartment houses the generator, hoses, chemical and pumps as well as a workbench with storage, overhead lighting and many other features. Our trailers are custom made to meet your special needs and budget.
9. What are Polyurea Coatings?
Polyurea coatings are typically two component, high build coatings used where high wear, chemical resistance or other special characteristics are needed. Polyureas can be formulated to provide special characteristics to solve many coating challenges. Common applications are special roof coatings, pickup truck bedliner type coatings, sanitary sewer applications, etc. The uses for Polyurea are being expanded every day by creative applicators. There are several subsections of Polyureas, each with their own properties. Aliphatic Polyureas typically have high UV light resistance. Aromatic Polyureas and hybrid systems provide more cost effective solutions and can be combined with Aliphatic systems to provide high performance and better value. Contact Oak Ridge for assistance in choosing the appropriate coating for your project.
10. What do I need to spray Polyurea coatings?
Polyurea coatings typically need more pressure and temperature than foam coatings. Lower pressure equipment that is designed for foam application only will not spray Polyureas well. A larger, higher pressure and temperature unit will spray both foam and polyurea effectively. If you only need to spray foam, the larger, more expensive units may not make sense, but if you want to spray both foam and coatings, the larger units are the better choice. Contact Oak Ridge and we will point you in the right direction.
11. What if I need Service?
Oak Ridge has years of experience in coatings and tech service. We can supply in-house service as well as service in the field to make sure your equipment is up and running and your projects are staying on target. Our large inventory of spare parts and our super-fast delivery will ensure that you have what you need, when you need it. We understand the necessity of having your rigs up and running right and we will do whatever it takes to help you get back to work.