Spray foams (insulation)

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Spray foam insulation is an alternative to traditional building insulation such as fiberglass. A two-component mixture composed of Isocyanate and resin comes together at the tip of a gun, and forms an expanding foam that is sprayed onto roof tiles, concrete slabs, into wall cavities, or through holes drilled in into a cavity of a finished wall.



Polyurethane, the most common type of spray foam insulation, was developed and used by the military in the 1940s and applied to airplanes. It wasn’t until the 1970s that it started to be used as foam insulation.[1]

Various systems are used to apply the spray foam. The two component high pressure system is generally used in new home construction. It is a quick expanding type of spray foam. The two component low pressure spray foam is another system that is used primarily for remodel jobs where there are existing walls with drywall already in place. This is also known as a slow rise formula and often referred to as injection foam.


Spray foam insulation can be categorized into two different types: open cell and closed cell.

Open Cell Foam Insulation Open cell is a type of foam where the tiny cells are not completely closed. open cell is less expensive because it uses less chemicals. It is a very good air barrier but does not provide any type of water vapor barrier. It is much more sponge like in appearance. It is often used for interior walls because it provides an optimum sound barrier. It is not recommended for outdoor applications.[1]

Closed Cell Foam Insulation Closed cell foam insulation is a much more dense type of foam than open cell. It has a smaller, more compact cell structure. It is a very good air barrier as well as a water vapor barrier. It is often used in roofing projects or other outdoor applications, but can be used anywhere in the home.[1]


Spray foam insulation saves on energy costs and lowers utility bills. Studies by the US Department of Energy show that 40% of a home's energy is lost as the result of air infiltration through walls, windows and doorways.[2] Buildings treated with spray foam insulation typically insulate as much as 50% better than traditional insulation products.[3]

Insulation that is sprayed in buildings protects against moisture, which provides the benefit of reducing the chance of harmful mold and mildew.[2][4] Eliminating mold growth reduces the likelihood of rotting wood in a home, and allergic reactions to mold spores.[4]

In addition to building temperature and moisture control, spray foam insulation is often used to reduce noise.[2][4] Foam insulation serves as a barrier to airborne sounds, and reduces airborne sound transfer through a building's roof, floor and walls.[3]

In the United States, homes treated with spray foam insulation often qualify for state and federal tax deductions.[4][5]

Thermal Resistance

R-value is the term given to thermal resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value of an insulation product, the more effective the insulation properties.[6] 1.8-2 pound polyurethane foam has the highest R-value of readily available insulation used in homes and buildings.[6][7]

Polyurethane is a closed-cell foam insulation material that contains a low-conductivity gas in its cells.[8] As a result of the high thermal resistance of the gas, spray polyurethane insulation typically has an R-value around R-7 to R-8 per inch.[8] In comparison, blown fiberglass typically has an R-Value of only R-2 to R-4 per inch.[9]

Health Effects

Isocyanates are powerful irritants to the eyes and gastrointestinal as well as the respiratory tracts. Direct skin contact with Isocyanates can also cause marked inflammation. Some people say that their eyes feel like they have sand in them at the onset of problems. Some break out in a rash on their arms, chest, and neck.

Becoming Sensitized to Isocyanates

Overexposure to isocyanates can “sensitize” workers, making them subject to asthma attacks if they are exposed again. Respiratory irritation may progress to a chemical bronchitis. Additional exposures can make the onset easier with less isocyanate necessary to start the attack.

Sporadic cases of hypersensitivity pneumonitis (HP) have also been reported in workers exposed to Isocyanates. The symptoms may seem like the flu, with fever, muscle aches, and headaches. Other symptoms may include a dry cough, chest tightness, and difficult breathing. Individuals with chronic HP often experience progressively more difficult breathing, fatigue, and weight loss. Individuals with acute HP typically develop symptoms 4-6 hours after exposure. [10][7]

Spray foam insulation is typically non-toxic only after it has cured. While curing spray foam emits a gas that causes blurred vision and trouble breathing. Using full face and respiratory protection while applying the product is recommended. If the material is not mixed in the right proportions it has been known to emit toxic gas perpetually. After being sprayed, it expands to roughly 100 times its original volume. As a result, it is able to fill vacant air gaps, and will expand and contract in relation to the building.[11]

Environmental Benefits

Some spray foam insulations are considered “green” products due to their ability to stop a tremendous amount of energy waste by sealing out air leaks. Some spray foam products offer an R-value of up to 6.7 for only 1 inch of sprayed insulation. Although some spray foam products promote the use of soy-based insulation, many industry leaders feel that the soy based formulas are unable to match the closed-cell polyurethane spray foam in r-value, vapor retarding abilities and overall reliability. Polyurethane spray foam can be considered a “green product” due to the amount of energy saved from the heating and cooling of a treated building.


Quadrant Urethane Technologies

Quadrant Urethane Technologies® is a business unit of Quadrant Chemical Corporation, a 40+ year old leader in Manufacturing & Packaging with multiple ISO 9001:2008 registered factories in the North Texas area. Quadrant caters to six major markets: Aerospace, Automotive, Commercial, Industrial, OTC/Personal Care and now the Spray Foam Insulation & Structural Foam market. Quadrant utilizes Chempax MRP, with SAP interface and we have 20+ years of VOMI experience.

Products offered by Quadrant Urethane Technologies® are QuadFoam® 500 - ½ pound open cell, QuadFoam® 2.0 - 2 pound closed cell, include bio, renewable and repurposed materials. Quadrant BioSeal and NatureSeal spray polyurethane foam insulation systems are available from a nationwide network of certified dealers.

Polyurethane spray foam has been around for more than 40 years. Our focus is to develop a family of insulation products that perform great and have additional sustainable attributes, such as incorporating renewable ingredients or ingredients that have less of an impact on the environment.

Quadrant Urethane Technologies® is FDA, EPA, ATF Registered Facilities and ISO 9001:2008 Certified