Maine insulation contractor Quantum Performance Building Products offers a variety of insulation products. We have been is business for over 12 years now and have had the fortune of working on thousands of projects. Below is a quick write up on the different things to keep in mind when insulating a new or old home in Maine. In Maine insulation is very important for your wallet, your health, and of course your comfort!
Does it really make sense to spend more for better insulation?
This is a complex question. However, there are a few basic things to keep in mind. Generally speaking, the days of fiberglass batt insulation are over. If you are building a new home or renovating an old home choosing better insulation always makes sense. Even if your on a budget it always makes since to invest up front for a better insulation package. The reason behind this is that insulation is the one thing you can do to your home that will pay you back year after year after year! Maine insulation contractor Quantum Performance Building Products will help you save money!
What is the primary way heat is lost in a house?
There has been a major push on the internet to make this topic as confusing as possible. Let me break it down very simply. Condensation and heat loss explained.
Air is KING! Air is how heat is lost. Just open your window in the winter and feel cold air rushing in. Its amazing the when a product is tested for how well it stops heat loss air is not part of the consideration! Thats why we can’t compare an air porus insulation like fiberglass to an air barrier material like spray foam just using R-value.
Air is also the primary transport of moisture. 99 percent of all moisture travels in air.
Condensation or “moisture” is created when warm air from inside your wall comes in contact with your cold exterior sheathing. This is a universal truth.
When choosing an insulation don’t look so much at R-value to compare them and try to understand that with air barrier materials R-value really doesn’t matter. Try to think of everything in terms of how well that material stops air from moving. Air is everything in terms of heat loss for the same reason we wear jackets made of air barrier materials in the winter. Stopping air movement is always the key.
Hierarchy of insulation materials
Fiberglass Batts are at the bottom of the list. Fiberglass batts allow air to freely pass through insulation. Air is the number 1 source of heat loss. Any insulation that allows a high amount of air to pass through it will not perform correctly.
Roxul Batts have a leg up on fiberglass batts. This is due to the fact that roxul is denser than a standard fiberglass batt. Since it is more dense it allows less air to move through it. Therefore, less heat is lost. It also has the added benefit of being a better sound dampening material than fiberglass batts. It is important to remember that although Roxul Batts are better than Fibeglass Batts it is still air porus. Therefore, air will still transport heat through the material. Its not a bad choice for a home owner on a budget who wants to do the job themselves.
Densepack Cellulose and Fiberglass
Densepack Cellulose and Fiberglass both perform similar. These products are also air porus. However, when installed to the correct density densepack systems will restrict more airflow than roxul thus perform better. I would caution anyone using this system to only use the most reputable companies. This is because there are a lot of companies that don’t check their density after applying. If the density is not correct the product will not perform well. This is especially true of roof decks that are dense packed. It may look good from the outside but the inside its not. With a batt product or a foam product what you see is what you get. The density is pretty much always the same.
Spray Foam Insulation
Spray Foam Insulation really is the best insulation on the market in terms of performance regardless of Open Cell or Closed Cell. Generally speaking you can get the same performance out of an R-20 of spray foam that takes over R80 of cellulose, fiberglass, or roxul. This is because spray foam stops all air movement within the stud bay our roofdeck. Stopping air flow also stops heat loss and condensation. Remember condensation on exterior sheathing is a sign of heat loss due to warm air from inside your wall system or roofdeck hitting the cold exterior sheathing. Its that simple!
Check this article for information on the best insulation to use in Maine! Maine Insulation Contractor Click Here
Installing Insulation Materials in Portland, Maine. Maine’s best insulation contractor!
At Quantum Performance Building Products we believe in customer service. We have been in business for 11 years. We have used all of the different types of insulation available. Below is some information on what we recommend. We believe that we have found the “sweet spot” taking into consideration cost, performance, and of course payback. We provide our customers with the correct amount of insulation without going over board. Most people don’t know that once a wall reaches an R-value of 20 with Open Cell Spray Foam Isulation, 95 percent of the heat loss is stopped! At Quantum we pride ourselves on coming up with the correct solution for your house. There is so much information out there but as insulation experts we have worked it out. Everything we say, we can back up with documentation. Whereas, most of our competitors can’t. Please also keep in mind that we offer everything. Open Cell, Closed Cell, Fiberglass, Bib, Cellulose. This is how we know which system work and which ones dont.
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Quick Tips Regarding Insulation in Maine
R-value does not take into consideration heat loss due to air movement. Both open cell and closed cell insulation materials are “air barriers”. Comparing an air porous insulation to and air barrier material by looking at the R-value just doesn’t work. Below are a few things to keep in mind.
Just because we are in Maine it doesn’t mean you need more R-value
R-20 of spray foam stops about 95 percent of heat loss
R-49 of spray foam stops about 97 percent of heat loss. Therefore, you have paid a lot of extra money for only a small amount of increased performance (look at attached chart). Where is the payback in that?
Spray foam will stop warm air from penetrating the insulation and condensing on the cold roof/wall sheathing regardless if its open cell or closed cell.
If you stop the air flow you should not need to apply a vapor barrier in Maine regardless of open cell or closed cell. In fact, not having a vapor barrier will help if there is a leak because the roof will be able to dry quicker. For fiberglass, roxul, or cellulose it may make a good idea because all of those products allow warm air to pass through and condense on the sheathing.
All fiber products will allow condensation to occur. Always keep in mind if you see condensation you know that you are loosing heat. Heat loss by air movement is what causes condensation. Always. Condensation does not occur from a product being vapor open or vapor closed. It is simply coincidence that air permeable insulation like fiberglass, roxul, and cellulose are also vapor open. Open Cell Spray foam is an air barrier but is also vapor open.
Open Cell Foam will allow water to penetrate and drain through it in a roofdeck. Once the water source is fixed the material will dry and retain its R-value.
Open Cell Spray Foam does not act like a sponge. It has been installed in millions of homes all over the world in cold climates with zero documented issues. If someone tells your that ask for documentation. Remember, no insulation should ever be used to stop water from entering a house. Regardless of what insulation you use other than Blue Board, if the insulation is submerged in water it will be come saturated over time. If your walls are submerged in water you have a much bigger problem than what insulation was used. This sounds silly but we hear all the time “won’t open cell spray foam let water into it?”. The answer is yes of course. However, once your leak is fixed the material will dry with no adverse affects. The added benefit being if you see a leak in your roof, you will no exactly where it is. With closed cell spray foam it can be very hard to find a leak because it traps the water. This I actually have seen in real life. I have witnessed open cell get wet and dry as well.
Companies that don’t offer Open Cell will try to bash it. This is because we can insulate a whole house for almost half the cost! The companies that push closed cell want to sell you the most expensive package possible. Its also possible that they are just ill informed.
Be careful what you read online. Unfortunately most of the information on the internet is pushed by some sort of an agenda. Make sure claims are backed up with actual real world testing of houses that have been in service for a number of years and then inspected. Below I am going to attach a few documents of tests just like that.
For those that are not very tech savvy I can give your the quick points – Vancouver
All buildings checked has Icynene Open Cell installed a number of years previous
Some buildings had vapor barriers and some did not.
Some buildings had good ventilation and some did not.
Every building had a small section of insulation ripped out and the exterior sheathing was tested for moisture content.
RESULTS! Every single building tested showed that the exterior sheathing did not have a high moisture level.
We recommend using Icynene Open Cell Spray Foam
The number one reason is that it is water blown. This means that there are no harmful blowing agents in the material.
The only gas that exists within the material is air. Therefore, there is no off gassing with this product. It also means that there is no gas within it that can break down the insulation over time. That was a problem about 10 years ago when people were digging into houses sprayed with closed cell which used a poor blowing agent. The foam had broken down over time. This supposed to not be happening any more.
Icynene Open Cell has 30 years of documented use in northern climates. Some of the closed cells we are spraying now are only 6 months old. They have been constantly reformulating closed cell spray foams over the past 30 years to make them healthier and more affordable. So how do we know those products will still be performing well 20 years from now. With Icynene Open Cell we know because of its history.
Icynene Open Cell is vapor open. This will allow any moisture that does get in will always be able to get out. One common issue we have seen over the years is below windows or doors that were not flashed correctly. Water was able to get in. When closed cell foam was used we found rotting because that moisture was not allowed to get out.
With all open cells or closed cells if not installed properly there can be issues. However, if installed correctly those issues don’t exist. With open cell sometimes there can be some pull away from the studs if the material is too hot. This is fixed very easily by going around the whole building and just touching up with the gun in those areas. You don’t see this happen much with closed cell. However, if the wall is damp the closed cell will not adhere at all. The point is if a product is not installed correctly then you may see pull away but it really is not something that should be factored into your decision on what product to use. Just make sure those areas are touched up.
Open cell absorbs about 80 percent of reflective sound. Closed Cell absorbs about 30 percent.
The payback with our open cell performance system is 1-2 years over fiberglass compared to around 10 years with a closed cell R-49 system.
We hope this was helpful. Its obviously in favor of Open Cell spray foam but sometimes there is a right way and a wrong way. Especially when looking at the dollars. Call us today! 342-3077
Check out the write up a on a new building we insulated in Portland. At Quantum we are very happy to have taken part in this wonderful project. As Portland grows we are doing our part help keep the energy consumption down as much as possible. Give us a shout if your are interested in learning more about saving energy while not breaking the bank on the upfront costs! We are Maine’s Spray Foam Insulation Experts! 207-342-3077