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What’s the Difference Between Insulation Types?

The trade-offs between different insulation types include general differences based on the techniques and materials (e.g. foam vs. fiberglass), and some specific differences based on your structure (home or business). Even though our name is Upstate Spray Foam Insulation, we install all forms of insulation, from spray foam to fiberglass batt, blow-in blanket, reflective barriers, intumescent coatings, and more.

The most common solutions for a home are fiberglass, blow-in (loose fill), and spray polyurethane foam (SPF). Depending on the product, blow-in/loose fill insulation can be made up of cellulose and/or fiberglass. Compared to SPF and cellulose, fiberglass batt material generally costs less, though the installation cost is much higher, and it insulates less well, especially in extreme cold. Blow-in costs a little more, and it also doesn’t insulate as well as SPF. SPF insulates much better, pays back much faster in saved energy costs, adds structural strength, and (depending on the type of SPF used) achieve a high quality vapor-resistive barrier, sealing the cracks and gaps in your home against air and moisture leakage. With SPF, you save more on energy costs, reduce pollutants and allergens, and increase your protection against mold. An added benefit: it also protects your home from pests. Fiberglass and blow-in also lose their insulating properties more quickly over time, while spray foam retains its effectiveness much longer.

When each is recommended


Blow-in products are often used in retrofit applications, where your home is currently occupied and is not under construction. In these cases, solutions would include blowing insulation into your exterior walls, but also include installing a specific depth in your attic space. Blow-in insulation has many advantages over traditional fiberglass batt (rolled-out) insulation. Blow-in can be installed as a dense-pack in your walls (providing a much better air-barrier), and it can also be seamlessly installed in an attic space without any of the gaps, voids, or seams that allow heat to escape.

While any insulation is “good” and is serving a purpose, blow-in insulation can only do so much. That’s where spray polyurethane foam comes into play. SPF provides superior insulation, but more importantly, provides air-sealing qualities that blow-in insulation can’t. Where moisture and dampness may be a concern in a crawlspace or basement, SPF stands alone as the best solution for these conditions. In today’s world, you want to insulate your home to make it as air-tight as possible, and in turn include mechanical ventilation to maintain proper indoor air quality for you and your family. Spray foam makes this task simple.

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“I would like to commend you and your staff for a job well done at our new restaurant in Oneonta, NY, and share with you what I have noticed since the addition of the spray foam insulation at our location. When we gutted this 5500 sq. ft. building and removed the fiberglass insulation, your crew came in and added roughly 10 inches of open cell foam to the entire roof deck, and roughly 2 inches of closed cell foam to the walls. This occurred in the middle of winter in upstate NY and your crew completed the job in less than one week. This building held heat all night when the outside temp averaged 20 degrees during the day and single digits overnight. Now that springtime has arrived we have had a few days of high humidity and outside temps in the 80s. Our building stays cool all day, even in the attic with no air conditioning running. You completed this job quickly and for a reasonable price, and I expect that my savings in utility costs will pay for the price of foaming this building in less than 2 years. I could not be happier with the job you have done, and will recommend your company to anyone and everyone. This building is now tight and efficient, and with the costs of heating/cooling these days, the savings I will realize because of this will be huge. Thanks again.”

—Chris Sloan, Oneonta, NY

 

315.822.5238 ~ 122 South St. West Winfield, NY 13491

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