Open vs. Closed-Cell Spray Foam Insulation & Benefits of Each

Most spray foam insulation comes in two kinds: open cell and closed cell. Natural-Therm comes in both of those types, plus one more: hybrid cell—or zero cell. When choosing which type of spray foam insulation would be good for your project, there are several things to consider. We’ve tried to make that decision as easy as possible with the breakdown below. Compare open-cell vs. closed-cell spray foam, open-cell vs. zero cell and closed-cell vs. zero cell as they pertain to R-value, strength, cost and more, with help from the spray foam technicians and developers at Natural Polymers, LLC. 

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OPEN-CELL VS. CLOSED-CELL SPRAY FOAM

Although open-cell and closed-cell spray foam insulation are both used to insulate a home, their functions are different. When comparing open-cell vs closed-cell spray foam, one of the most common things you’ll see is that open-cell foam is cheaper. This is because open-cell foam does not insulate a home as well as closed-cell, but open-cell does have its own unique benefits.

CLOSED-CELL FOAM

When working in extreme temperatures, closed-cell foam is ideal for robust insulation. Not only does it add to the structural integrity of the building, when compared to open-cell foam, it is much more rigid and can achieve higher R-values than open-cell. It also acts as a vapor barrier and won’t be harmed by water damage. 

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OPEN-CELL FOAM

Compared to closed-cell insulation, open-cell insulation expands much more after each application, making it ideal for filling small, untouched spaces in a home. Because it has excellent soundproofing abilities, open-cell foam is usually used between studs and in attics.

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OPEN-CELL VS. ZERO-CELL SPRAY FOAM

Compared to Natural Polymers’ open-cell spray foam, our low VOC zero-cell spray foam is structurally harder. Because our zero-cell foam is a hybrid between open-cell and closed-cell, it is ideal for contractors who want a wider processing window and like to spray at a slightly lower temperature while maintaining a low VOC signature. 

CLOSED-CELL VS. ZERO-CELL SPRAY FOAM

Compared to our closed-cell foam, our zero-cell spray foam is closer to medium-density than our high-density closed-cell. It is slightly softer than our closed-cell foam but still adds a significant amount of structure, with a hydrophobic base. 

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USING CLOSED-CELL, OPEN-CELL & ZERO-CELL INSULATION

Having baseline knowledge surrounding each type of spray foam used throughout the insulation industry is helpful on the job site. Because each type of foam is fitted for certain environments, being able to determine which foam is best for which project without thinking twice about it is a major advantage in the industry. Not only will it save you time preparing for each project, but you also won’t waste money on unnecessary materials. Here are some quick points on closed-cell, open-cell and zero-cell foam insulation that you should take with you to the job site. 

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Closed-Cell
Spray Foam Insulation

• Higher R-value per inch, better for tighter spaces
• Better for basements, crawlspaces, and exterior spaces
• Rejects large amounts of water, ideal for flood zones and leaks
• Adds strength to wall racking
• Less permeable for air, pests, moisture, heat
• Strongest structure

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Open-Cell
Spray Foam Insulation

• Lower cost than closed-cell
• Better for interior spaces like walls and attics
• Ideal for filling large voids
• Stands up better to movement such as seasonal shifting
• Hydrophobic structure

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Zero-Cell
Spray Foam Insulation

• Higher R-value to typical open cell foam
• More suitable for application where a harder foam is desired
• Hydrophobic structure
• Considered a low GWP product
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