While spray foam insulation may be one of the most expensive insulation options— what you get for the price is a pretty impressive list of benefits. Those benefits include:
- High R-value density
- Soundproof capabilities
- Fills the entire space it’s installed in
- Easy to fill hard-to-reach areas
- Lasts 80+ years
But, how much does spray foam insulation cost? Knowing this can help you as a homeowner, decide if spray foam insulation is right for your home and your budget. So we’ll compare it to other types of insulation plus their costs so you can make an educated choice.
What Can Happen If Your Attic is Improperly Insulated?
First, we need to know why it’s essential to talk about your insulation options. A poorly insulated attic can cause a slew of issues, from costing you money to rotting wood beams. Insulation can fall down, get wet from trapped moisture, or just not work as well over time.
So even if you had your attic insulated at one time, it’s vital to check if it needs to be re-done. Here’s what can happen if your home isn’t adequately insulated.
Trapped Moisture and Mold Growth 😷
Your attic’s insulation and ventilation work in tandem to ensure proper airflow and temperature control. Without this, moisture can get trapped in your attic, which can cause mold growth, mildew, wood rot, and even flatten your foam attic insulation.
Higher Energy Bills 💸
Without insulation in the attic, that heat (or cold) can easily escape through the top of your home, which increases energy bills because your appliances are trying to mitigate that temperature.
More Pressure on HVAC System 💥
To piggyback off of high energy bills, your HVAC system, including your heater and air conditioning, has to work so much harder to keep your home at the temperature you want. This can cause them to need more frequent repairs and age much faster. If you have purchased an energy-efficient HVAC system, you do a disservice by not also pairing proper insulation with it to work its best.
Pest Infestations 🐀
One of the less talked about dangers of a poorly insulated attic is that it can lead to pests making their way into your home. Mice, rats, and squirrels are all looking for a warm place to nest and will often enter attics through tiny cracks or holes. Once they’re in, they have free range of your home.
Recurrent Ice Dams 🧊
Ice dams happen when ice or snow at the point of your roof gets warmed up and melts but then refreezes at the bottom rather than going into the gutters and away from your roof. Poor insulation can cause this imbalance of temperatures which causes ice dams. If you notice ice dams, it can be a critical indicator that you need to re-insulate your attic or check your roof.
Drafty Spots in Your Home 🥶
Brr! Ever walk into a cold hallway or cold room on the upper floor of your home? That’s likely poor insulation and a good sign to inspect the insulation above that room.
Water Leaks 💧
Water leaks can happen from a roof issue but can also be caused by the trapped moisture in your attic. If you see any water stains on your ceiling, it’s time to investigate.
So as you can see, there are many reasons to make sure your attic is well insulated and in good repair. Let’s look at your best options to prevent all of those annoying (and costly) symptoms of poor insulation.
What Makes Good Insulation?
The defining factor of how well your insulated works is its R-value. R-values measure how effective the insulation is regarding heat flow. The higher the R-value, the better.
However, 7 “zones” in the United States indicate how high of an R-value you need based on climate. For example, Zone 1 in Florida only requires R-values of R13-R49 due to the much warmer climate.
Zone 7 near Minnesota, however, requires R-values of R30-R60, particularly in the attic. With frigid winters, it’s essential to have a dense insulator to keep your home warm. This chart from Home Depot is an excellent example of which R-values you should shoot for one each area of your home.
Note: These totals are the R-value of the total depth of your insulation. For example, insulation with an R-value of 5 per inch would require 4 inches of thickness to get R20.
Types of Insulation (Pros and Cons)
There are many types of insulation— some you may be familiar with, and others not so much. But lucky for you, we’ll define each one plus their pros and cons and R-values.
Blanket Batt or Roll Insulation: R-4.3 per inch
This is the most common type of insulation and what you probably think of when you hear “insulation.” It comes in long rolls that are easy to cut and fit into place. You can find this kind of insulation made from fiberglass, rock wool, or natural fibers like denim or sheep’s wool.
- Comes pre-cut to fit between studs
- Super easy to install (DIY-friendly)
- The glass fibers irritate skin, eyes, and lungs— protective wear is vital when installing.
- Heat conduction is still possible
- It can tear or come loose easily
Rigid Foam Board Insulation: R-4 to R-6 per inch
This insulation is made of foam that comes in large boards. It’s great for flat surfaces like your home’s foundation or exterior walls. These foam boards can be cut to size and fit easily between walls or standard studs.
- Medium-range pricing
- Doesn’t require special equipment or training to install
- No irritants in the material
- Blocks thermal heat conduction through your home’s structure (only of its kind)
- Has to be carefully cut to fit around pipes and outlets
- Requires additional sealant to ensure airtight seal around those elements
- Must be covered with plywood or plaster— cannot be out in the open like other types
Loose-Fill (Blown-In) Fiberglass: R-2.2 to R-2.7 per inch
This type is exactly what it sounds like— tiny pieces of fiberglass that you would find in your windows. This is one of the most popular types because it’s easy to install and can be added to existing insulation.
- Low-cost (maybe the cheapest insulation option)
- You can re-use this material by sucking it back up and relocating it into an area
- Can be difficult to achieve even coverage without special equipment
- Heat conduction is still possible if not installed correctly
- Easily holds moisture
- Also irritating to eyes, lungs, skin
Radiant Barrier: NO R-Value
While other types of insulation work to block conductive heat, which attributes to its R-value, radiant barrier insulation/foil works to block radiant heat (up to 98%). It’s simply adhered to the beams and plywood to create a tight seal; thus, why there is no R-value.
- Ideal for wrapping pipes or ducts
- Great in warmer climates where reflecting heat is beneficial
- Easy installation
- Creates a vapor barrier
- Will not deteriorate like foam, roll, or blown insulation
- If it gets dirty, it can affect its efficiency
- Not ideal for colder climates
Spray Foam: R-7 per inch
This is one of the most effective types of insulation because it can fill in all the nooks and crannies that other types would miss. Spray foam is made up of two chemicals mixed together that spray out of a can and quickly expand and harden. It’s a highly efficient material for insulation that increases its cost, but it’s worth it.
- Has the highest R-value density
- It’s closed-cell and does not require additional vapor barriers
- fills the entire space it’s installed in
- Easy to fill around outlets, pipes, and other hard-to-reach areas
- The chemicals used in spray foam output toxic gasses and fumes, so you must have a safety mask and work in a well-ventilated area
- Not DIY-friendly: requires professional installation (which can be a pro as much as a con)
- High cost
- Can seep through any gaps or holes that aren’t sealed
Your Premium Option: Spray Foam Insulation Benefits
We want to dive deeper into the premium option of spray foam insulation. We believe it is one of the best investments you can make for your home to keep it efficient and keep those energy bills down. But why choose spray foam over the other types of insulation?
Spray foam is costly, but the benefits are paramount when it comes to investing in your home.
As we stated, the R-value measures how well the insulation can resist heat flow. The higher the number, the better it is at insulating. Spray foam has one of the highest R-values per inch at R-7. This means that spray foam will do a better job insulating your home than any other type of insulation.
Your attic can be incredibly well-sealed against the elements with such a high R-value. Proper air sealing and insulation in the attic allows no air to come in or out, which helps your HVAC system run as efficiently as possible. You might spend more upfront, but you will definitely see the savings on your monthly bill over time.
Spray foam can be used on any area in your home where you need insulation, such as the attic, basement, crawl spaces, or garage. It can even be used on curved or irregular surfaces, something that other types of insulation struggle with. It is also an excellent soundproofing agent, so if you live in a noisy area or have thin walls, spray foam can help reduce the amount of sound coming out. Great for a home with musicians 🙂
Air Seals Your Attic
As stated in the energy savings section, spray foam helps air seal your attic. This is great because a well-sealed and insulated attic can help improve your home’s indoor air quality. By sealing off any cracks or gaps, you are also keeping out any outside allergens, dust, and pests that might want to make their way into your home.
Keeps Your Home Comfortable
A spray foam attic is going to be a more comfortable space than one that is not insulated at all or has poor insulation. This is because spray foam helps to regulate the temperature in your attic, keeping it cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Spray foam insulation, when done right, can last 80 to 100 years or more! This can be especially beneficial for anyone who has purchased their forever home or has faced a lot of insulation issues in the past. Spray foam insulation can be a one-and-done approach to finally getting the efficient insulation you need.
How Much Does Spray Foam Insulation Cost?
We’ve all been waiting for the answer: how much does spray foam insulation actually cost? As of 2023, the national average cost of spray foam insulation installation is $2,492.
This cost can be as low as $1,200 but go up to $3,700 or more, depending on the size of the job. In fact, the square footage of your attic is going to be the biggest deciding factor on how much it’s going to cost.
This material costs more mainly because of the material, equipment, and additional training required to install it. It’s not as simple to run to the hardware store and pick up some rolled batts for insulation. Rather, this requires hiring a professional team who can bring their spray foam machine to do it right. The video below shows a great walk-through of spray foam insulation installs:
While it can be tempting to go with the cheapest option, consider investing a little bit more in your home’s energy efficiency and go with spray foam insulation.
Lower Your Energy Bills With Professional Spray Foam Application
Your whole home’s performance relies on a few things: a quality roof, good windows, and great insulation. At First American Roofing & Siding, we can help you achieve optimal home performance. If you want to learn more and find out how we can help, reach out to our expert team right away to get the ball rolling.