How Long Does Spray Foam Insulation Last?
There are many insulation options on the market, each with their own pros and cons. In addition to the quality of the material, longevity is one of the most important things to consider when choosing insulation.
Some kinds of insulation last for decades. Others, however, can last for the entire lifespan of your home.
At REenergizeCO, we have found that spray foam insulation is the most effective insulation material on the planet. It is also among the longest-lived, rarely requiring replacement due to age alone.
How Many Years Does Spray Foam Insulation Last?
Spray foam insulation is made of polyurethane. Polyurethane is extremely durable. When applied as spray foam insulation, the material can withstand significant variations in temperature, moisture buildup, and the growth of mold and other organisms.
There are two types of spray foam insulation: closed cell and open cell. Of the two, closed cell spray foam is the more effective insulator. It also tends to last longer due to a rigid structure that maintains its form better over time and when the insulation is exposed to the conditions discussed above.
Both types of spray foam insulation can last anywhere from 80 years to 100 years, with closed cell spray foam having a slight edge in terms of durability. For most families, this represents the lifetime of the house and then some!
Does Spray Foam Insulation Deteriorate?
When insulation degrades the material loses its R-value (a measure of heat resistance). This can lead to drafts, cold spots, and higher energy bills.
Insulation removal and replacement may be necessary for a variety of reasons, from water damage to animal activity. However, spray foam is generally less prone to these external factors than other types of insulation (except in cases of significant exposure, such as a leaky roof or an infestation).
So what causes spray foam insulation to deteriorate? Mistakes during installation are the biggest issue that shortens the lifespan of spray foam.
What Affects the Lifespan of Spray Foam Insulation?
Common mistakes when installing spray foam include:
- Not applying the right thickness of foam
- Failure to remove all of the old insulation before adding spray foam
- Not cleaning the substrates and/or not allowing the substrate to fully dry before installation
- Spraying foam insulation over the top of old insulation
- Leaving holes and gaps in the space being insulated
- Installing spray foam on a surface that is too hot (over 80 degrees Fahrenheit) or too cold (below 60 degrees Fahrenheit)
These issues often arise when homeowners take a DIY approach to applying spray foam insulation. Problems often start with the purchase of low-grade materials and improper use of equipment. These issues are then compounded by errors in the installation process.
A professional insulation contractor will know what tools to use, bring the right equipment, prepare the space for proper installation, and do the job right the first time. Insulation professionals also know where spray foam needs to be added for maximum efficiency, as well as how much insulation should be installed.
How Long Does Spray Foam Insulation Last Compared to Other Materials?
Although spray foam is considered the “gold standard” when it comes to home insulation, it is by no means the only option. There are many types of home insulation to choose from, each of which has different benefits for homeowners.
However, durability and longevity are two of the areas where spray foam insulation is virtually untouchable compared to other choices:
- Fiberglass insulation: Fiberglass batts can start to disintegrate in as little as 15 to 20 years. Loose-fill fiberglass can last much longer (possibly up to 80 or even 100 years), but this is highly dependent on favorable conditions.
- Cellulose insulation: Cellulose insulation lasts about 20 to 30 years. The lifespan will be shorter, however, if the insulation (which is made from recycled paper) is exposed to subpar conditions.
- Mineral wool insulation: Mineral wool comes the closest to the long-term viability of spray foam insulation. Rock wool insulation can last for as long as your home is standing (approximately 80-100 years). However, installing mineral wool insulation is a painstaking process. In addition, many homeowners find the material to be prohibitively expensive.
Any type of insulation may need to be replaced if it is exposed to adverse conditions. However, spray foam does a better job of withstanding the common factors that cause insulation to become degraded and lose its effectiveness.
How to Make Spray Foam Insulation Last Longer
Under ideal conditions, spray foam insulation requires very little maintenance to maximize its effectiveness. For the most part, It is truly a “set it and forget it” solution.
That said, it is important to be aware of the conditions inside your home where spray foam insulation has been installed. For example, if you install spray foam insulation in the attic, you need to make sure your roof stays in good condition and promptly repair any damage.
Low-lying areas of the house require the same attention. Spray foam insulation is ideal for finished basements, but you need to stay alert for cracks, leaks, unwanted critters, and other issues. The same goes for crawl spaces; keeping the crawl space ventilated and free from moisture is essential for ensuring the effectiveness of spray foam insulation.
Generally, it is important to be aware of temperature changes, drafts, and other issues in your home. These are commonsense aspects of good homeownership, not special steps you have to take with spray foam insulation specifically. However, if you notice these problems after installing spray foam, it might indicate an issue with the insulation.
REenergizeCO is proud to help homeowners cut down on their energy costs and make their homes more efficient. We apply proven principles of building science to identify where insulation needs to be upgraded and perform high-quality installation that can help you achieve long-term energy savings and comfort.
Spray foam insulation has a number of major benefits. REenergizeCO has the experience and knowledge to help you realize these benefits with minimal disruption to your home and your busy schedule.
Contact REenergizeCO today to learn more about upgrading your home with durable, reliable spray foam insulation. We serve homeowners in Denver, Fort Collins, and throughout the Front Range of Colorado.