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What Makes Spray Foam and Blow-In Insulation Different?

Spray foam and blow in insulation share similar characteristics in the sense that they are both durable types of insulation and are great at fitting hard to reach spots in a building.

I will go over the similarities, differences and setbacks of each type of insulation. This article may help give you insight into which is the best type of insulation for you.

What is Blow In Insulation?

Blow In Insulation coins the term “loose-fill insulation” and also may be called “Blown in Insulation” and is a material made from cellulose, fiberglass or mineral wool. It is applied to various parts of a building using a special machine. The insulation material is blown through a long hose connected to the machine and out into the area that needs insulating.

Fiberglass typically tends to be a popular option and is made from a percentage of recycled glass. Cellulose is usually made from recycled newspaper or paper. Lastly, mineral wool isn’t used as often nowadays but can still be used and is typically made from rock.

Blow in insulation in Dallas home
blow in insulation

Pros of Blow In:

  • Since it is blown in, it is a great option for smaller gaps, cracks and crawl spaces. This type is typically used for attics.
  • It remains as one of the most versatile options and can applied to many different areas
  • Wide selection of types of insulation such as Fiberglass, mineral wool and cellulose
  • Cost-effective option compared to other insulation types on the market

Setbacks

  • Comes with special equipment that would increase labor time for the person or technicians handling it.
  • Compression and settling may happen. Whenever someone steps on the insulation, it may cause air gaps to become more noticble.

Blow is a highly effective option but like anything else, there are pros and cons. I do feel that the pros outweigh the cons when it comes to installing a blow in insulation. But like anything else, there may be a better option for you and your home’s needs.

What is Spray Foam Insulation?

Spray foam is made from a polyurethane liquid that solidifies after being applied to the area of application. It is applied using a spray can and is great at covering any air gaps or small holes or cracks.

spray foam is unique compared to Blow in and batt because transforms as it is applied and comes in two forms: Closed cell and open cell. Closed cell is more ridged while open cell is more flexible. Spray foam tends to have a higher Rvalue making it a great thermal barrier since it is extremely durable.

spray foam insulation
spray foam insulation

Pros:

  • Like blow in, it can also be used for small areas such as between door frames and windows
  • Fills in hard to reach areas between joists or studs.
  • Contains fire retardant properties for some but not all.
  • Acts as a natural air barrier sealing any air gaps.

Setbacks:

  • Not as cost-effective as other insulation options.
  • Closed cell spray foam can be used in various environments but open cell foam does not act the best in humid environments and does not insulate as efficiently when touched by water. It’s best to get a professional’s opinion.

What is the difference between the two types of insulations?

They look and seem similar but the differences between are bigger than you may think.

  • Cost: The two are comparable in price but blow in does tend to be more affordable. However, fiberglass is more expensive than cellulose so it really depends on the material used.
  • The Equipment: Spray foam is applied using a spray can or spray gun and is applied as a liquid that solidifies after application.  On the other hand, Blow In is applied through a special machine in which a hose is attached to the machine. It is then blown out through the hose.
  • R-Values differ: Spray foam’s R-value tends to be higher with Open cell at R-value of 3.5 per inch. Blow in is not too far off though and has an R-value of 2.2-2.7 per inch using fiberglass.
  • Materials: Spray foam is made from a polyurethane liquid and Blow in is made from Cellulose, fiberglass, and mineral wool.
  • Application: Although the two are great at sealing air gaps or cracks, spray foam is best at filling areas between door frames, windows and anywhere where there is an air gap.

Which One Is Best For You?

The two types of insulation are both comparable in many ways but also have defined differences. Our team at Insulation First can help guide you through which insulation would fit your budget, needs and climate. We want to make sure you are happy with the type of insulation you choose! For more information on Blow Insulation or Spray foam,  you can give us a call!

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