is foam right for my home?
Thank you for your interest in spray foam insulation. There is so much conflicting information available today about the costs, benefits and suitability of spray foam insulation. Unfortunately, the market appears to have been tarnished by under-qualified installers who have not followed the recommendations from the manufacturers, not installed certified products or installed the foam in unsuitable, damp conditions to make a quick profit.
The team here at Daylight Energy have therefore tried to pull together as much information as possible from legitimate sources (references listed below) to help homeowners, developers and builders try and make sense of the conflicting information available, to the best of our ability.
What is foam insulation?
The spray foam product installed by Daylight Energy produced by a Canadian company called Icynene and has been approved by the BBA - British Board of Agrément - for use in the UK since November 2015. Download the approval certificate here This product is a type of breathable foam that is sprayed in-between rafters or studs as a form of thermal insulation for cavity walls, ceiling and lofts.
This particular product has been used in over 400,000 homes across 28 countries, according to the Icynene website.
How would it work in my loft?
The spray foam would be applied between the rafters (sloping timbers) of your existing roof, underneath the breathable membrane and NOT directly to the roof tiles or slates.
This creates a breathable barrier against the elements, greatly reducing drafts and therefore heat loss through the roof. The very high thermal properties mean that it one of the most effective insulation products available on the market today.
How the foam is applied in your loft would depend on the kind of space you are trying to create.
How insulating is spray foam insulation?
Compared to traditional fibreglass insulation, you need less spray foam to get the same insulating effect. It helps reduce heat loss and draughts within your property, therefore reducing your energy bills.
I have heard the terms Open Cell and Closed Cell, what does this mean, and what does it matter to me?
Closed cell is a foam that sets solid - this is great if you also want to add structural integrity to your building. It is a better insulator than open cell due to its material structure when set, which slows the movement of energy through it. Due to this structure however, you need to ensure your area is well ventilated to prevent the presence of condensation. This form can also prevent the movement of large amounts of water which is useful if you are in an area prone to flooding.
Open cell is a foam that is a lot less solid when set. You will need to install a thicker layer of this to get the same level of insulation as you would get from closed cell. This material structure better allows moisture through so there is less worry about condensation. This form is perfect if you have an area that you want to insulate for sound.
Icynene H2 Foamlite is an open cell spray foam which allows vapour to pass through. Due to this it can also allow you to identify any water leaks in your structure without absorbing the water.
is spray foam better than traditional fibreglass roll insulation?
Icynene prevents air passing through so isn’t influenced by any wind or drafts in the property. Fibreglass doesn’t provide good resistance when there is air movement and only insulated without wind.
Over time fibreglass will compress and absorb moisture, making it more prone to mould and damp. This can also cause damage to your property. Icynene, on the other hand, is a modern material which allows water to move through to dry out.
Spray foam is great if your property has a space which is hard to negotiate. It expands to fill empty spaces to ensure thermal insulation and air sealing. Fibreglass is difficult to install throughout in hard to reach places.
Most fibreglass contains formaldehyde - a chemical that can cause watery eyes, burning feelings in the sinuses, coughing and skin irritation such as rashes. Icynene is free from this chemical and the French Authority on Volatile Organic Compounds have granted their highest rating to the product.
Fibreglass is susceptible to pests and insects, with some rodents able to make this space into a nest. This isn’t a problem for Icynene Spray Foam as they are not considered food sources for pests.
After around 15 years fibreglass can become compacted meaning it won’t have the same insulating ability meaning it will have to be replaced or renovated to ensure continued performance. Icynene doesn’t degrade over time and can be expected to last for the life time of your property.
what are the disadvantages?
Spray Foam Insulation is more expensive than traditional fibreglass insulation, but has better insulation properties
Your roof would need to be in a relatively good state of repair to protect the foam from the elements
Icynene cannot be applied yourself; you need an experienced, accredited contractor to do this for you
Installing spray foam insulation can potentially be a messy job if the installer needs to prepare a smooth surface before installation. However, any responsible acreditied installer/contractor will do the hard work for you and clean up after themselves.
is there any funding available?
The Affordable Warmth Obligation: You may be able to get help for home improvements if you claim certain benefits and live in private housing or live in social housing. If you live in private housing and have one of a list of benefits you may be able to get help from the scheme
I thought that buildings needed to “breathe”?
Some believe that the problem with a highly insulated property means a poor air quality and high humidity causing mould to grow. Allowing air movement through a building is important, but it is also important to bring in fresh air from a reliable location - not the roof! An important factor in air movement is to not allow warm, moist air to build up but rather for this to escape the property. This form of Icynene foam allows the passage of water vapour.
What assurances are there regarding the quality of the product?
H2Fomalite, also sold as LDC-50 (manufactured by Icynene Inc) is the only spray foam product approved, inspected, tested and certificated by the British Board of Agreements, BBA (Agrément meaning “Agreeable qualities…official approval). The BBA is the “UK’s leading construction Certification Body, offering approval, certification and expert test services to manufacturers of products and systems.” .
The full certificate for this product can be viewed on the BBA website here
This particular spray foam insulation product is also approved by independent body, the Energy Saving Trust - Energy Saving Trust - Icynene Foamlite
The manufacturers, Icynene, provide a 25-year warranty for all their products.
Can I not install this myself?
Spray foam kits are available from some stores, but the spray foam will not be the Icynene detailed above. To ensure that the spray foam is suitable for your chosen installation and that it is then installed correctly, an Icynene Approved Installer should be used.