When you’re ready to add or replace insulation in your home, two of the most popular options are fiberglass insulation and spray foam insulation. Both can provide benefits, so it’s important to understand the differences to make the best choice for your home.
Fiberglass insulation comes in rolls of fibrous materials known as batts. These rolls are placed between studs and then stapled into place. Spray foam insulation is literally sprayed into place, where it then expands to completely fill the space.
Fiberglass insulation is helpful at blocking some of the heat and air transfer between the indoors and outdoors. However, there are still openings throughout the insulation that some heat and air can flow through. Additionally, it is not moisture resistant.
Spray foam insulation, on the other hand, can block every bit of air and heat transfer. There are no gaps or openings as long as it is applied properly. It is also resistant to mold and moisture.
Spray foam insulation typically costs more upfront than fiberglass insulation. However, it tends to save you more money over time. This is because it saves on your energy bills, does not need to be replaced as often, and – as it is moisture resistant – it prevents other structural damage to your home. This is why, if you have the budget, it’s always worth the investment to choose spray foam over fiberglass.
Fiberglass insulation is significantly less expensive than spray foam insulation , but is also less effective, especially in very cold conditions. Used in about 85% of homes in America, fiberglass insulation is the most common form of home insulation. Spray foam insulation has less market share but is growing in popularity. Professional installation is required for spray foam insulation, but fiberglass insulation can often be installed by homeowners themselves.
Two types of spray foam insulation are open cell and closed cell. Each type has advantages and disadvantages, based on the need and cost of insulation.
Open cell foam means that the cells burst and air fills the gaps in the material. Hence, open cell foams are softer and less structurally rigid than closed cell foams, where the cells form a cohesive structure. Closed cells hold their shape because they are filled with gas, making them stronger against pressure and also creating better insulators. If the foam won’t be compressed by outside forces, doesn’t need to conform to a solid shape, and is on a tight budget, then open cell foam is best. For areas that require higher air and moisture insulation, will have a more open use, require structural or decorative support, and are on a higher budget, then closed cell foam is a better choice.