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What is Open Cell and Closed Cell Foam?


Open Cell and Closed Cell Foam

So, What's the Difference? Open Cell and Closed Cell Foam

When insulating a building, we typically use two types of insulating foam: open cell and closed cell foam. Both are applied as liquid and set very quickly; however, the differences are apparent in terms of expansion and density. It may help to think of a foam “cell” as a solidified bubble. Closed cells are complete bubbles, while open cells are partially formed bubbles.  


When installing spray foam insulation, we use both open and closed cell foam in different areas of a building space to ensure peak climate control, soundproofing, and vapor barrier performance.  


What is closed cell spray foam?  

Closed-cell spray foam is a type of spray foam insulation where the cells are closed, resulting in a denser and stronger insulation material with higher R-values per inch compared to open-cell spray foam. The R-value, which measures the insulation's resistance to heat flow, is higher in closed-cell foam, typically ranging from 6 to 7 per inch. This makes it a superior insulator compared to open-cell foam. 

Closed-cell foam's density also contributes to its structural strength, which can help reinforce the walls and roofs where it is applied. It creates a robust barrier against air and moisture, reducing the risk of mold and mildew growth. Additionally, its impermeability to water makes it an excellent choice for areas prone to flooding or high humidity. Due to its high performance, closed-cell spray foam is commonly used in exterior applications, such as roofing, exterior walls, and below-grade areas. 


What is open cell spray foam?  

Open-cell spray foam is another type of spray foam insulation where the cells are open, allowing for greater flexibility and a softer texture. It has a lower R-value per inch compared to closed-cell spray foam but is often used in interior applications. The R-value of open-cell foam is typically around 3.5 to 4 per inch, but it has its own set of advantages that make it ideal for specific applications. 


One of the main benefits of open-cell spray foam is its ability to expand significantly upon application. This expansion allows it to fill gaps and cavities more effectively, making it a great option for insulating irregularly shaped spaces and hard-to-reach areas. Its flexibility also means it can move with the building, reducing the risk of cracks and gaps over time. 


Open-cell foam is particularly effective for interior applications where soundproofing is important. Its open structure allows it to absorb sound waves, making it a popular choice for interior walls, ceilings, and floors in residential and commercial buildings. Additionally, while it is not a water barrier like closed-cell foam, open-cell foam still provides excellent air sealing capabilities, contributing to improved energy efficiency. 


M.Y. Insulation: One of the Premier Insulation Companies “Near Me” 

Get in touch for spray foam insulation services in Michigan and Indiana! M.Y. Insulation serves communities throughout both states, from South Bend, Indiana, to South Haven, Michigan.  

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