Open-cell and Closed-cell Spray Foam Insulation Creates a Moisture Barrier for Island Home
By JUAN SAGARBARRIA
Floridians are steeped in the art of getting away… in their own backyard. With so many recreational options involving the ocean, the sun, and ultimate relaxation, they find a peaceful haven in myriads of locations scattered along the state’s coast. Keeping these options in mind, a Florida resident wanted a private getaway constructed in an area far away from major urban
areas – a home that he could arrive to only by boat. He found just that in Grant Farm Island, also known as VIP Island, an exclusive gem located in the Intracoastal Waterway, just off Sebastian Inlet.
However, there is a bit of a hurdle that comes with having a home right by the water: waterproofing. Understanding the moisture infiltration problems that could arise, the owner contacted Tailored Foam of Florida, an SPF contracting company. Tailored Foam’s Robert Adams briefed the homeowner on a cost-effective spray foam installation that combined the use of open-cell and closed-cell spray polyurethane foam. The homeowner then gave the green light for the project.
“This home sat on two-foot columns and it was so close to the water that moisture was definitely going to get into it,” said Adams. “Spray foam was the best solution because it generates a moisture barrier, it keeps the water out there. SPF also provides the home with high R-value, which is so important throughout the seasons.”
Adams brought in a member of Tailored Foam to perform the SPF application, which entailed installing spray foam to a 2,500 sq. ft. area consisting of the underside of the roof deck, the exterior walls, and the subfloor.
A unique accuracy-improving aspect of the installation process involved the use of specialized guides to improve foam depth consistency. The crew utilized Foamrite USA measuring pins to accurately gauge the foam depth on every substrate to which foam would be installed. Adams, who developed Foamrite measuring pins with his wife Suzanne, explained that the pins, which are made of foam and come in standardized sizes in half-inch increments, are simply stuck to whatever surfaces that need to be sprayed and indicate to the installer exactly how much foam should be applied to meet spec.
“The pins eliminate the guesswork from the application,” said Adams. “They offer a simple solution to expedite a spray foam application, and I don’t go out on any job without them.”
Adams noted that the only challenge the project presented came when getting their spray rig to the island. In order to accomplish that, the two-man Tailored Foam crew drove their box truck onto a rented barge that was docked outside of Melbourne and cruised 10 miles before they got to the jobsite. Once they got there, they tied up to the dock, where the rig and barge remained throughout the entire project. With 300 feet of hose attached to their Graco Reactor H-40 proportioner, the crew was able to work with ease throughout every area of the jobsite.
“We had enough length of hose that we didn’t need to drive our truck off the barge at all,” said Adams. “We were equipped with the proper equipment to complete the job in a timely fashion and wanted to have the barge back onto its loading dock as soon as possible.”
The waterfront home was in the initial stages of its construction when Adams and his partner arrived on site, the frame of the home was built and a shingle roof was installed. Prior to the SPF application, the Tailored Foam crew covered the windows and doors with plastic sheeting to mitigate overspray damage. The crew was outfitted with Tyvek suits and used fresh air masks connected to a Tennessee Chill Box system during the application.
For the subfloor and exterior wall applications, they installed two inches of Bayseal, a 2 lb. closed-cell spray polyurethane foam made by Bayer. Then, they applied 5.5 inches of Icynene’s Classic Max 0.5 lb. open-cell spray foam to the roofdeck. Adams noted that he recommended the use of closed-cell foam to the owner specifically for the exterior walls and subfloor because of the high potential for moisture intrusion. Adams also pointed out that the roof underlayment provided the home with an additional protective layer that the exterior walls and subfloors did not have.
“Closed-cell adds structural strength in addition to an air barrier,” said Adams. “In order to save the owner money, we wanted to install closed-cell SPF where it was most important, given the home’s location. We installed open-cell foam to the roof deck to seal the envelope and give the home R-value.”
During the SPF application, Foamrite’s yellow and black pins were used. The yellow pins measured precisely 2 inches and the black pins measured 5.5 inches. Once the SPF expanded, covered the pin, and became flush with the circular end of the pin, the crew knew they had accomplished the foam depth beset by the project’s specifications. Not only did the pins provide precise accuracy that shows the homeowner that he got exactly what he paid for, they also improved on the efficiency of the contracting company since the crew did not overspray and waste any material. Adams noted that the pins helped him and his partner complete the project in less than two days, which was ahead of schedule.
“When you get used to using the pins, you only have to know what color they are before sticking them on a substrate,” said Adams. “The depth of foam is already measured for you as long as you are using the right color of pin.”
A few months after the project was completed, the homeowner contacted Adams to let him know that the SPF application enabled him to keep his A/C at 71ºF when it’s both hot and cool out, and that he has had no moisture issues of any kind.