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Is Spray Foam Insulation Worth It?

Properly insulating your home is one of the best ways of keeping heat in, and energy bills down.

You can do this with spray foam insulation, otherwise called spray polyurethane foam (SPF). It’s an alternative to traditional home insulation and can be used in roofs, lofts, walls, and flooring.

But is spray foam insulation actually worth it? Yes – although there are certain downsides that are important to understand before you make the decision to use this option. We’ve explained the advantages and disadvantages below.

If you’re ready to start finding insulation quotes, why not fill in our simple insulation form now? Once you’ve entered in a few details, we’ll put you in touch with our trusted suppliers and they’ll get back to you with free quotes.

Man in protective gear applying spray foam insulation

Is spray foam insulation any good?

Spray foam insulation is one the most effective ways to insulate your home – it has a higher effective rate of insulation than other options like fibreglass and organic insulation.

Because of how effective spray foam insulation is at keeping heat in (and energy bills down), we would always recommend considering it.

Whether it’s entirely suitable for your needs depends on a number of factors however, including your budget, the type of property you have, and whether you’re looking to sell your home (more on that later).

Here are the pros and cons of spray foam insulation:

 

Pros of spray foam insulation

  • It can reduce your energy bills – more than 50% of a home’s heat is lost through roofs, walls, and other air leakage points, causing your heating system to overcompensate and thus costing you more money.
  • It’s flexible enough to insulate areas that’d be more difficult or impossible to otherwise.
  • It’s more effective at keeping allergens and other airborne contaminants out of your home.
  • It can last for up to 80 years.
  • It’s ideal for keeping rodents and other pests out of your home – it can discourage bats too, but if you have an existing colony in your home you will need to get a specialist to remove it before using spray foam insulation.
  • It naturally restricts outside noise, so you’ll get better sound reduction for your property.

 

Cons of spray foam insulation

  • It can hinder essential ventilation, increasing the chance of humidity and damp – if you have a timber roof, you potentially run the risk of it decaying.
  • It typically can’t be used in listed buildings, such as those with thatched roofs.
  • It usually costs two to three times more than ordinary fabric or fibreglass insulation.
  • In some situations, spray foam insulation can actually reduce the price of your home.
  • Installing spray foam insulation is not a DIY job – you’ll almost certainly need a professional to do it.

What’s the return on investment from spray foam insulation?

Spray foam insulation is worth it – in fact, depending on the type of insulation you currently have (or don’t have), spray foam insulation could save you up to 50% on your energy bills. Its highly effective heat retention means you simply don't need to use as much energy to heat your home.

But with the cost of spray foam insulation typically being two to three times higher than something like fibreglass insulation, it's understandable that some people are hesitant.

Let's look at the costs involved, and see how much you can save over a period of time.

The final figure will depend on the type of spray foam insulation you use. There’s open-cell foam, which is a water-based product and is the cheapest of the two main spray foam insulation types. Its major downside is that it will turn to mush when exposed to water, so using it on a roof that could suffer from rain leakage isn’t the best idea.

The average cost of open-cell spray foam insulation is £2,500–£3,000 for a three-bedroom, semi-detached property, according to Which?. Compare this to using fibreglass to insulate a similarly sized property – between £750 and £1,000 – and the price jump becomes obvious.

It increases even more when you use closed-cell spray foam, which is an oil-based product. You’ll spend around £3,500–£5,000, but the advantages make this well worth it. By using oil-based spray foam, you get insulation that is naturally resistant to water. This makes it perfect for use in most roofs.

 

How much does the installation increase the cost?

Aside from the material itself, one of the factors affecting the cost of spray foam insulation is the fact you need to use professionals to install it.

You can easily install insulation like fibreglass panels yourself – it's usually just a case of placing or attaching them to points in your loft.

But for spray foam insulation, specialist equipment is required, which can cost upwards of £50,000 in extreme cases. It’s ordinarily not a one-day job either, further adding to the total cost (most installers will charge a daily rate between £150–£200 for loft insulation).

However, with the ongoing energy crisis seeing bills rise to their highest ever level, spray foam insulation has become a much more attractive option as it can massively reduce the amount of heat you’ll need.

Around 35–40% of a home’s heat loss comes from uninsulated walls and roofs, meaning that if you spend £100 on your heating each month, £35–£40 of that is being completely wasted. Even with ordinary insulation, your home will still be leaking more warmth than it would with spray foam insulation.

Because of the high upfront costs involved with spray foam insulation, you likely won’t break even for around five years. You’ll start to benefit from significant savings on your energy bills immediately, though.

Check out our guide on the costs of spray foam insulation for a more detailed breakdown.

Are all properties suitable for spray foam insulation?

The majority of properties in the UK are ideally suited for spray foam insulation, but exceptions do exist.

If you live in an historic or listed building, spray foam insulation is generally seen as a bad idea. The risks of damaging the building are often too high, despite the heat-saving benefits.

Studies have shown spray foam insulation can cause excess moisture buildup, which isn't great for old timber roofs. Also, there's the aesthetic impact to think about. Some people simply can't come to terms with the idea of potentially ruining a building's character.

The difficulty of removing spray foam insulation plays a part as well. Eventually, spray foam will lose its effectiveness (albeit after 30+ years), and removing it from old properties could cause damage.

Can spray foam reduce my property’s value?

Unfortunately, spray foam insulation continues to attract concerns around excess condensation, which can reduce the value of a property.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors say that if a property is found to have spray foam insulation, they may either reduce its value, or request an independent specialist report.

Additionally, spray foam insulation might even make a property unmortgageable, but this is rare. Still, these are things to consider if you’re looking to sell your home.

Every installation will be unique and will need assessing on a case-by-case basis. So if you plan to sell your property and are thinking about getting spray foam insulation, it is worth investigating whether it will impact the sale.

What are the alternatives to spray foam insulation?

One of the big criticisms of spray foam insulation is that whilst it does reduce energy usage, which helps the environment, the required materials aren’t ‘green’. As a petroleum-based product, spray foam insulation isn’t sustainable.

Some even see spray foam insulation as dangerous, because of various health risks associated with it. These include:

  • Asthma
  • Sensitisation
  • Lung damage
  • Other respiratory and breathing problems

As a result, some prefer to turn to greener insulation alternatives. One example is cellulose insulation, which is made from recycled paper and other plant-based fibres.

This option has a lower R-value than spray foam insulation, meaning it doesn’t insulate quite as well, but it is around two or three times cheaper and comes from naturally occurring materials.

Many people still rely on the classic fibreglass method of insulation, which is a tried-and-tested way of keeping your home warm. It isn’t quite as effective as spray foam insulation, but it is cheaper.

The best part is, you can install it yourself – but if you’re not sure, we’d still recommend getting a professional to do the job.

Next steps

Spray foam insulation is one of the best ways to insulate your home, despite some drawbacks. It usually costs more than other forms of insulation, but within a few short years you’ll have paid the cost back and will be able to enjoy reduced energy bills for a long time.

So if you’re ready to start insulating your home with spray foam, why not fill in our quick form? All you need to do is pop in a few details and we’ll put you in touch with our trusted suppliers, who’ll contact you to discuss quotes for spray foam insulation.

Tom Gill Writer

Tom is a big fan of all things eco and has a passionate interest in how technology and localised projects can work together to make the world greener.

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