Home>Discussions>INSULATION & HVAC>Foam vs. Cellulose Debate
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Bill
Foam vs. Cellulose Debate
Bill

Thanks advance to the community.  I’ve gotten quotes from a cellulose guy and an injection foam guy to insulate our exterior walls.  I already gutted the attic and insulated to r-60  (except on the cathedral ceilings r-30 was the best I could fit.)  As for the existing walls both guys say their product is the best choice for my 1916 Southern Colonial.  It's balloon framed and has aluminum siding (which we plan on replacing at some point).  However, both contractors are proposing to do the work from the inside.  Foam is about 2.5x higher in terms of cost - but he claims a 50% reduction in energy usage.  Cellulose claims 25%.  From a math standpoint - if the energy savings are true - the pay back is only a few years and we plan on staying in the house for a long time.  But what concerns me is some of the horror stories I've read about both of these products.  Many people claim that the effectiveness is nowhere near the savings claims.  Some claim foam will blow plaster right off the walls.  Others say cellulose gets wet from condensation and will cause mold.  Not to mention settling of cellulose and cracking of foam.  I don't know what or whom to believe.  Wondering if i should just wait until we're ready to reside the home and handle the insulation issue then???  Hoping TOH Community can settle the matter for me and give me peace of mind that I'm making the right decision for my home.   Please help! 

FRANCO
Re: Foam vs. Cellulose Debate
FRANCO

 

Spray Foam Insulation vs Cellulose

Both types of insulation have been around for a while now, although spray foam is one of the more recent options. Both are fairly simple to understand; cellulose is a loose fill form of insulation, commonly made from recycled newspaper mixed with fire resistant additives.

 

Alternatively, it can be installed by blowing it into the area by a professional. Spray foam, one of life’s ‘what-it-says-on-the-can’ products, is an expanding foam which is sprayed into the area to be insulated. Not much more to say on that one!

 

Spray Foam Insulation vs Cellulose – Cellulose Advantages

When it comes to the ‘spray foam vs cellulose’ question, the latter is often considered the eco-friendly choice on the insulation front. The material is a total fill solution, as it reaches all areas to be insulated, filling cavities, nooks and crannies.

 

Cellulose compares very favourably to the most traditional materials used in the insulation industry, the fibreglass rolls that most people will be familiar with. An insulation material’s effectiveness is measured in R-values, the higher the R-value per inch, the more effective the insulation.

 

 

John
Re: Foam vs. Cellulose Debate
John

In a balloon house, if proper fire retarding isn't put in place between floors and studs, you're house will go up in seconds with foam.  Cellulose offers fire retarding, and much safer in case of a fire, which might give you and your family the extra time needed to get out safely. 

Valerie
Re: Foam vs. Cellulose Debate
Valerie

I found cellulose easy to blow into existing walls. It was cheap and very effective for both heat and sound insulation. If you do have balloon framing fire blocking is essential. Newer foam products are more eco-friendly but probably need a professional installer.

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