What’s the Difference? Spray Foam vs. Fiberglass Insulation
When you hear the word “insulation,” your mind probably pictures rolls and rolls of pink, fiberglass stuffing. This is to be expected, as this has been the insulation of choice for more than half a century. However, open-cell spray foams are quickly becoming more popular thanks to a variety of unique features and benefits.
So, which is the best? The answer might not be so simple. In this article, we’ll examine the pros and cons of each type in detail so that you can decide which option is best for you. Whether you already own a home in The Woodlands area or are looking to build, this information can be extremely valuable.
Fiberglass insulation – as the name might imply – is made out of glass that has been spun into thick fibrous padding. It is sold in rolls that tend to fit perfectly into the slats of attic floors and can be easily cut to size with a utility knife. There is also a loose-fill option, which can be blown into sealed wall spaces for further protection against the elements.
Fiberglass insulation works by trapping air within its various pockets, thus minimizing the transfer of heat between walls and ceilings. The material is also fire retardant, which can be a nice bonus to families who want a little extra protection in the event of a fire. Another benefit to fiberglass insulation is its affordability, a fact that is often enough to make it the preferred insulation of choice for more homeowners.
The material is far from perfect, however. Since air can move through the material, fiberglass insulation does not create a “sealed envelope” for the home. This means that air can get penetrate the walls and reduce the home’s overall energy efficiency. Moreover, if the insulation is poorly installed or has begun to degrade, its efficiency will be further compromised.
Open Cell Spray Foam
Spray foam is relatively new on the insulation scene, but it’s quickly become the favorite of many homeowners and construction crews. This unique polymer is created by combining two liquid chemicals together in real-time. When mixed during spraying, these chemicals react by forming a heavy foam that can expand by up to 100x before solidifying.
Spray foam is extremely useful because it can get into every crack and corner of a wall or ceiling, leaving no room for air to get in or out. It is also very efficient, only taking a matter of minutes to expand into corners, plug gaps, and seal holes. When installed correctly, foam can create that “sealed envelope” most homeowners are looking for, drastically improving energy efficiency.
The only main downside of spray foam insulation is the cost, which is significantly higher than fiberglass. That said, many homeowners see reductions in their energy bills that more than make up for the extra up-front expenditure. Also, keep in mind that the product is very technical, so it must be installed by a trained technician.
Always Consider the Material Performance
When it comes to insulation, we have what’s known as the “R-Value.” This measures the material’s resistance to heat transfer in both hot and cold situations. The higher the R-Value, the better the material will perform and the higher the homeowner’s energy savings will be. In the case of these two options, fiberglass insulation is rated at 3.2 per inch, while foam is rated 3.5. In an area like The Woodlands, where heat can be a problem most months of the year, that small difference can have a big impact on your energy bill.
As you can see, both spray foam and fiberglass insulation have their own pros and cons. However, when it comes to maximizing efficiency and R-value, spray foam will always be the better option. At G & R Builders near The Woodlands, Texas, we like to approach insulation on a job-by-job basis. Depending on the client’s budget and the type of structure they’re planning, we’re happy to make a professional recommendation as to the best insulation option.
Are you considering a new home in The Woodlands, Magnolia, Spring, or anywhere else in Greater Houston, our team can help. Contact us today to speak with a building consultant and let us show you how we’ve become the trusted custom home builder in The Woodlands and beyond.