Washington winter is officially over and it certainly was cold enough to notice whether there were chilly spots inside our homes. Drafts usually are caused by slight gaps in walls, window frames or other surfaces exposed to the outdoors. It’s a common problem and, with a typically hot DC summer on the way, now is a good time to fix those leaks so your expensive air conditioning doesn’t escape.
One of the ways we make our clients’ homes more weatherproof and comfortable is to apply foam insulation, a spray-applied material that forms continuous insulation and air sealing barriers on walls, roofs and floors. The reasons? According to the U.S. Department of Energy, buildings treated with spray foam typically insulate as much as 50% better than traditional insulation products. It also protects against moisture infiltration, which reduces the chance of harmful mold and mildew and can even serve as a sound barrier. It also may qualify for tax deductions (ask your tax advisor).
There are two main types of foam insulation — open-cell and closed-cell. Open-cell foam tends to have enhanced breathability and will maintain a certain amount of flexibility for the long term. The flexible aspects have advantages in maintaining good air seals when applied to surfaces that are likely to expand and contract. Foxcraft has had success with closed-cell products in applications with less movement, like basements, foundations and crawlspace walls. Many of our projects incorporate both types of insulation as we strive to find the most appropriate balance in today’s mixed construction techniques.
Spray foam insulation products are dependent on contact with the atmosphere in order to cure, so these materials cannot be applied behind existing drywall or plaster. They are best suited to remodeling projects and new construction that involve open wall cavity access prior to drywall installation. We often recommend the use of both open- and closed-cell as part of a total insulation envelope. These products are safe to handle and have little off-gassing even during the installation process. Some projects, powder baths and media rooms specifically, can be ideal spaces to incorporate spray foam as a sound buffer.
Thinking about a renovation? Weatherproofing is built into our design and construction process and helps make the spaces we create as comfortable and energy efficient as they are beautiful.