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What’s the difference between open-cell and closed-cell spray foam?

1 Nov 2016 | Under SPF Insulation | Posted by | 0 Comments
SPF insulation bricks - R&A Contracting

“We install closed-cell spray foam at our company!”

How many times have you heard that phrase and wondered, “What makes a cell open or closed when it comes to spray foam?” That’s a great question! The difference between open-cell and closed-cell is similar to asking the difference between oil and water. Both oil and water are liquids, of course, but a quick glance can tell you there’s a reason why we use motor oil in our cars and water in our bodies.

Oil has a stronger molecular bond than water in that it’s more difficult to disperse oil into smaller droplets than water. Water’s molecular bond allows it to break into finer droplets, like the mist from a spray bottle. Oil is created to withstand the extreme pressure of an engine’s combustion chamber.

Open-cell spray foam vs. Closed-cell spray foam

So, what does this have to do with open-cell and closed-cell spray foam? When any type of spray foam is installed, it immediately begins a rapid expansion process. For many spray foams, it can expand up to thirty times its liquid density. What happens during spray foam’s expansion process? As the materials expand, the foam traps small pockets inside the foam’s material. What’s inside those pockets? Air is trapped inside the pockets of open-cell spray foams. Closed-cell spray foams trap molecules of gas inside the foam material.

Now, think back to your last science class. Do you remember that gas is heavier than air? That means it’s also stronger because it can withstand more pressure. Open-cell spray foam has its limitations:

  • Open-cell spray foam is not intended for outside use;
  • Open-cell spray foam should not be exposed to large amounts of water;
  • Open-cell spray foam is not a Type II vapor retarder.

So, where does that leave us with closed-cell spray foam? Closed-cell spray foam is far more versatile and can be used in a virtually limitless amount of applications. Building exterior? Check. Roofing solution? Affirmative. Interior walls? Yes. Utility ditch? Absolutely!

Is open-cell spray foam bad? Not at all! In fact, it is more economic from a cost perspective than closed-cell spray foam. There are so many possibilities of using spray foam. Our R&A Contracting team loves to consider which type of foam is best for your unique situation. Let us know what your insulation needs may be and we can provide you with the right type of spray foam every time.

I’d be an idiot if I did not take this opportunity to communicate to you how much we appreciate the way in which you conduct business and take care of our facility. In my experience you, and your team, are at the top of the list of all the roofing companies I’ve dealt with over the years. Thank you!

Jim Lowry - Bissinger's Handcrafted Chocolatier

Eric and crew were really nice to have around. They were courteous, careful and caused little if any disruption. Their work looks good too! To be honest… a good experience with a product that I initially had misgivings about. I’m a convert because of Bubba, Sam and Eric. Thank you.

Jim Lowry - Bissinger's Handcrafted Chocolatier

“I want to thank the crew at R&A for a job well done on our very leaky roof at the shop. It is certainly nice to have the drips and rivers gone from the shop when it is raining. I also wanted you to know how much we appreciated that the guys were able to stay out of our way and allowed us to do business as usual without any problems or interruptions. The roof looks great and the clean-up after the job made it so we couldn’t even tell you’d been here. Thanks for doing what you do so well!”

Jay Moore, President of Safe Way Tire and Auto Center

“My wife and I were on vacation when water pipes burst in our house. We got a hold of Craig and the R&A crew was able to start evacuating the water immediately. The best part was that they were able to start work before we even returned home. It was a very fast turnaround considering the extensive amount of water damage.”

Will from Dardenne Prairie, MO

“Craig and Mike came out in a timely fashion when we needed the work done. They did a reliable and quality job.”

Jerry from SLR Properties

“Craig helped us out tremendously with the insurance process. Timely and very professional.”

Lindell from Greater Missouri Builders (GMB)

“We purchased a house and there was some damage to the roof. Very impressed with the thoroughness of Mike’s inspection. Very comfortable with their explanation of what needed to be fixed. Most impressive was the way they protected our landscaping. Really liked the way they treated me as a valued customer, even though it was only a small project.”

Ross from Troy, MO

“I use R&A Contracting when my commercial roofs receive storm damage. They work on our behalf through every step of the insurance claim process. They perform all of the work and complete the insurance process, making our roofs better than they were before the storm.”

Director of Facilities for a large Property Management Company

“The team at R & A Contracting responded immediately when notified of our water disaster. They removed water-damaged materials and property quickly and restored our home even before the final settlement from our insurance company. They minimized how long our family had to live in a hotel and got us back to normal as fast as possible.”

Will from O'Fallon, MO