What Are Open Cell And Closed Cell Foams?

A popular topic here at the Spray-On Foam & Coatings blog: What are open cell and closed cell foams?

The reason this topic comes up time and time again? Choosing between these two types of spray foam is the main decision that people have to make when trying to figure out the right insulation solution for their business.

So let’s dive right in! Let’s start with the main differences between open-cell insulation and closed-cell insulation. (More specifically, the two types of insulation are open-cell polyurethane spray foam and closed-cell polyurethane foam.)

Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles

The difference is in the bubbles. Bubbles? Yes, bubbles. Spray foam has small cells — or bubbles — that make up the foam material.

With open-cell spray foam, the cells remain open. Thus, open-cell foam is soft and flexible. With closed-cell foam, the cells are enclosed and pressed together. Thus, closed-cell foam is stiff and, in some cases, more durable. Closed-cell foam also makes a more effective air and vapor barrier.

As you might imagine, the density differs between the two as well. Open-cell foam is less dense than its closed-cell counterpart. Typically, the density of open-cell insulation foam is about 0.5 pounds per cubic foot. The density of closed-cell foam? About 1.75 pounds per cubic foot.

These two products also vary in the amount of expansion that takes place after application. The open-cell foam expands much more than closed-cell — to about 3 inches for open and 1 inch for closed.

What does this mean for your office or business space? It means that each type of spray-foam insulation has different properties. We can help you determine which is best for your specific location and the specific places where the foam insulation will be applied.

For instance, when measuring R-values, closed-cell foam insulation can be applied and then reapplied. The more applications there are, the higher the possible R-value. Open-cell expands more, so it is designed in such a way that only one application is possible in most standard building spaces.

Which insulation is right for your business?

The answer to this question depends on a number of factors, which we will go over with you when you choose to partner with us. We’ll need to know where your commercial structure is located. We’ll also need to know the dimensions of your crawl spaces, especially those beneath your roof deck.

Other considerations: Cost, for one. Open-cell usually costs less than its counterpart. You’ll also need to ask: What do I need foam insulation for? Open-cell is great for soundproofing, for example. And it expands in such a way as to fill every nook and cranny, something that is not always possible with closed-cell. On the other hand, closed-cell is a better insulator.

Truth is, some commercial buildings need a combination of both open and closed cell foams! Cell spray foam insulation is great for all types of commercial buildings. Our foam products prevent heat flow, improve air barriers, and inhibit vapor permeability.

Furthermore, our materials, including both open and closed cell spray foams, contain no blowing agents.

Those are the basics that should help you understand what open cell and closed cell foams are. We look forward to speaking and working with you, so if you have any more questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

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