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Learn The Truth Behind Common Spray Foam Insulation Myths

Spray foam insulation is a modern alternative to standard fiberglass insulation. It comes as two liquids, which react to form a dense foam once they come into contact with air. Spray foam offers many benefits, including a higher R-value than traditional insulation, the ability to wick away moisture, and the capacity to be inserted through a small hole in the wall. However, some homeowners steer clear of spray foam because they've heard myths about this building material. Here's a look at some of those myths, and the real truth that lies beneath them.

Myth #1: Spray foam is really expensive.

It is true that the cost of spray foam insulation is typically higher than that of fiberglass insulation, particularly because spray foam should be installed by an experienced applicator, while fiberglass can be installed by homeowners with little to no construction experience. However, spray foam's higher cost is likely to be recouped over several years in the form of energy savings. Homes insulated with spray foam are draftier and all-around better insulated, which leads to substantially lower heating and cooling bills. In some cases, you may save up to 50% on your utility bills by choosing spray foam -- this quickly makes up for the higher up-front cost.

Myth #2: Spray foam is bad for the environment.

Spray foam actually reduces your carbon footprint because it lowers your energy usage. You'll be burning less natural gas or heating oil if you insulate with spray foam. Contrary to popular belief, producing spray foam is not environmentally costly, either. Many of the chemicals used to make spray foam can be obtained from natural sources.

Myth #3: Spray foam releases toxic gases into your home, which lead to cancer and other sicknesses.

Although some of the chemicals in spray foam are quite dangerous when in their liquid form, once the foam is set, it becomes inert. This means that it does not release any compounds, toxic or otherwise, into the air, even if it becomes wet or hot. Spray foam generally only takes a day or two to cure, and your contractor will make sure you aren't in your home during this curing period. By the time you're allowed back into your home, it should be completely safe. Contrary to common myths, spray foam does not release formaldehyde or volatile organic compounds, either.

Myth #4: Spray foam is really only necessary for homes in areas with cold winters.

Residents in warmer areas benefit from spray foam, too. It not only seals warm air in during the winter months, but also seals cold air in during the summer. This leads to a reduction in air conditioning bills and may also help even out the temperature of your home by preventing "drafts" of warm air from flowing in through cracks and crevices.

Myth #5: Spray foam is new and experimental, so no one quite knows yet if it's as good as manufacturers claim.

Although spray foam has recently become more popular, thanks to an increased interest in sustainability and eco-friendly building practices, it has actually been around for decades. It was developed by the United States' military in the 1940s and has been used in homes since the 1970s. Its insulating abilities, benefits, and potential health effects have been well-researched, and many building codes specify it as the insulating material of choice when attempting to meet "green" building standards.

Whether you're building a new home or re-insulating an older one, spray foam insulation is a material you can count on. Don't let the myths steer you away from this energy-efficient, safe solution for a warmer home.