Spray Foam Shoppin’

As a northern girl, born and raised in the mitten, it really doesn’t make sense that I hate the cold like I do. Being the frugalista little cheapo I am, I also hate running our heater any higher than 64 in the winter. Snicker. No seriously, we keep the house at 64 throughout winter and it makes me want to punch people because I’m so cold. When we both got legit, real people jobs, we actually decided to bump up the heat from 62 to 64 in the winter. Hiiiggghhh rollllaas! So anyway, this combination of cheapness and coldness leaves me sad inside.

So when we got all serious about tackling this master retreat, we decided that spray foam was the only answer to our insulation whoas. For some reference, our last house had a finished attic that was poorly insulated and it SUCKED. It was comfortable for like 30 days out of the year. The rest were either incredibly too hot, or incredibly too cold. No good, mi amigo. So when this came into my life, I was all about it.

Cost for Spray Foam

Doesn’t look like much, but this guy is going to keep our upstairs nice and toasty (and, if you remember, we like things nice and toasty). Well this guy and a few of his friends 😉

After we ripped out all the old insulation (man, it still hurts to say that), we were able to get a better idea of the overall layout of the space, and a feel for how we wanted everything to flow. Since spray foam more or less seals your electrical work inside of the wall, we wanted to make sure we had a clear idea of what our needs would be, so we wouldn’t have to go back and dig through the freshly minted spray foam, compromising our air tight seal. So, in addition to scouting out potential installers, we had to do lots of research on our end to make sure everything was planned out and ready to go.

Using Spray Foam Insulation

In the past few weeks, we’ve been learning more about insulation than I ever thought possible 😉 After chatting with a few installers, we knew that we would want 3 inches (minimum) in the ceiling and that on the walls, we would be looking at around 2 inches. Spray foam has an R value of 7.2 per inch. Fiber-glass is 2.25. BIG difference. I found this chart helpful for determining different R-values of insulation materials, for reference. The bottom line, fiber glass just wasn’t going to cut it if we wanted a nice and toasty retreat.

R-Value of Fiber Glass


R Value of Spray Foam

So with the 3 inches we were pegging for, that would give us an R-Value of just over 20, vs. ummm 6.75. Yes. Much better.

And the icing on the cake, at least according to the installers, is that our effective R-Value will actually be over 30, since spray foam is also a wind and vapor barrier, which helps you get an even better seal. If your house isn’t effectively sealed, the fiber-glass insulation will actually work even worse than the already dismal 2.25 R-value. Since most old houses are not totally sealed, most “normal” insulation (aka fiberglass) doesn’t even meet the crap-o-la R-value it has. Bummer.

Oh, and one more perk. We’re raising the roof, err, ceiling. Same thing, right?

How to Hot Roof Attic

By spray foaming our attic space, we’ll be able to install a hot roof, which means you don’t need any ventilation, thus freeing up lots o’ space, which will basically let us have more head room in our joint. I’m cool with that. We’ll actually gain about a foot of air above us, giving us just under 8 foot tall ceilings. Wootie wootie tootie fruitie.

So why doesn’t everyone use spray foam, one might ask. We’ll my friends, cause it turns out this fine material cost some extra simoleons. I few more than I care to spend, honestly.

How Much Does Spray Foam Cost

The first quote we got, from the Insulation Man, gave us a variety of options. For the 3″ we wanted in the ceiling, and 2″ in the walls, we’d be looking at $3,450, which ain’t cheap. For 2″, we would be looking at $2,400. Both mucho dolla.

Our next quote we got came in even higher. Dagger.

Cost to Install Spray Foam

Overall, they wanted just shy of 5 grand to insulate the house with spray foam. Wham bam alcazam. Do they think I go by Dr. Mary, or something. Holy Moly.

And our final quote came from a Green Specialist in town, who only installs green spray foam (less off gassing), and she wanted like $6-7 for 3″ thick/foot, which is like $8,000. Nope. Just ain’t going to happen.

After hemming and hawing on this one, we’ve decided to go with the first installer that came by because they were able to provide the most references for their work, and quite frankly, they are the cheapest and I don’t have a money tree in my back yard. In complete honesty, our main concern with this home improvement really wasn’t the ROI, it was the comfort we are hoping it will bring to the space. After living in a house with pretty shoddy insulation, it’s kind of been bumped to the top of our list for all our homes, now, and in the future. Sure, it going to set us back 3 grand, but it’s also going to (hopefully) make the house pretty stinkin’ efficient (many home owners see their bills cut in HALF), comfortable, and greenie green.

If it DOES cut our bills in half, we’d actually be looking at an ROI of about 4 years, since our savings would be around $700 annually. We are in no way depending on that though, and really look at this more as an investment in our happiness factor vs. our save me mo’ money factor. Plus, we are doing a good chunk of the rest of the attic ourselves, so even though we are paying a bit extra here for a top of the line product, I think we’ll be able to make the whole attic conversion pretty economical when it’s all said and done. Here’s to hoping! 😉

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