On this page:
- How Do Pros Price Spray Foam Insulation Jobs?
- Is Spray Foam Insulation Right for My Project?
- What Influences the Cost of Installing Spray Foam Insulation?
- What Will Affect the Cost of My Project?
- Preparing for a Spray Foam Installation Project
- Cost Comparisons
- Level of Difficulty
Spray foam insulation is a great option for many applications, providing a high insulation value as well as an excellent air barrier and impressive sound dampening. Spray foam can improve the efficiency of your home, making it more comfortable and easier to heat and cool, but is generally more expensive than other forms of insulation. The increased cost stems from both materials and labor, since large-scale spray foam installations must be completed by a pro. There are several factors that could influence the cost of spray foam insulation, so consider your needs and application when deciding if spray foam is right for you.
How Do Pros Price Spray Foam Insulation Jobs?
What Type of Spray Foam Insulation Do You Need?
Two types of spray foam may be used in residential applications: open cell and closed cell foam. The type used for your project will have a direct influence on the cost of the job. Open cell foam insulation has an R-value per inch of about 3.7, which is higher than standard fiberglass batts and is comparable to blown-in cellulose or rigid foam boards. It is commonly used in applications that do not require imperviousness to water, such as in the walls, roof, and attic of most homes. Closed cell spray foam insulation is denser than its counterpart, and is typically used in applications that involve exposure to moisture, such as below-grade or exterior use in basements or crawlspaces. Closed cell insulation typically has nearly twice the R-value per inch of open cell foam, but often costs more than twice as much to install, so is only cost-effective for its intended use.
How is Spray Foam Insulation Priced?
The material required for a spray foam insulation project is generally gauged by the thickness of the coating required and is priced by the “board-foot,” which is a unit that represents a 12 inch by 12 inch by 1 inch volume of material. In order to calculate the board feet needed for your job, a pro will need to know the square footage of the areas to be coated and the thickness of material required. For example, the cavity between two exterior 2x4 wall studs is about 14.5 inches wide, 3.5 inches deep, and 91.5 inches high (for a standard 8 foot wall framed 16 inches on center). It would require about 32 board feet of insulation to fill each cavity. For framed surfaces, your contractor will probably calculate the materials needed for your installation based on the overall dimensions of each surface to cover, rather than on the volume of each cavity in order to account for anomalies and waste.
Is Spray Foam Insulation Right for My Project?
Insulation essentially serves to prevent heat moving from one place to another. The ability of a material to prevent heat transfer is measured by its thermal resistance or “R-value”. Since heat naturally moves toward cool areas, insulating your home makes it easier to maintain the comfort level inside and reduce heating and cooling costs by keeping heat where you want it, whether inside or outside. Spray foam has an R-value that is comparable or superior to other insulating materials, so is appropriate for use in just about any location.
One of the most significant sources of heat loss or gain is air infiltration or loss. While insulation provides important protection against heat transfer through conduction, substantial air movement can affect the indoor climate as well. Insulation and air barriers work hand-in-hand to protect the conditioned environment in your home. Sprayed-in foam provides a more effective air barrier than other forms of insulation, giving you more bang for your buck than insulation alone.
Since spray foam insulation is in a liquid state when installed, it can be applied to virtually any surface regardless of its size, shape, orientation, and accessibility. This feature makes spray foam an excellent option for insulating areas that are difficult to work in, have several obstructions such as ducts and pipes, are oddly shaped, or have irregular stud, rafter, or joist spacing that makes installing batt or rigid insulation very time consuming.
Spray foam is one of the most expensive insulation options available to homeowners, often costing three times as much as fiberglass batts, or more. It is often cost effective to combine spray foam with another form of insulation to simplify the installation in some areas of the home, but avoid the expense of using only spray foam. The size and nature of your project are important factors in deciding whether spray foam is the most cost-effective choice; it could make the most sense for a specific area of the home or for an addition or small project, but might be too costly and unnecessary for an entire house.
What Influences the Cost of Installing Spray Foam Insulation?
As with most home-improvement and construction projects, your location is an important factor in the cost of a spray foam project. In addition to labor prices that are affected by the cost of living in your area, the availability of skilled and licensed professionals in your market can make a difference. If you live in an area that is not serviced by multiple contractors in the field, the job may cost more than in other places if you need to hire a pro from out of town who will have higher overhead and travel-related costs.
Due to the nature of the job, large-scale spray foam insulation application must be performed by qualified professionals. Failure to handle, mix, and apply the insulation components correctly can result in illness, injury, and product failure, so should not be attempted without proper training and taking appropriate safety measures. Since these requirements prevent a DIY installation, there is assurance the material will be handled and installed correctly, but little opportunity to save on the cost of the job by doing the work on your own.
What Will Affect the Cost of My Project?
The specific location of the insulation application can influence the cost of both materials and labor, since it can affect the type of foam used and the amount of time or manpower needed for the job. For example, it could cost two or three times as much to insulate an open crawlspace than an attic floor of the same size. The requirement to use closed cell foam in a crawlspace, along with difficult access, make the job more complex and costly than in a dry and easy-to-navigate area. Features like wall height and room dimensions can have a lot of influence on the cost of application; the more difficult it is for an installer to get to or work in a given spot the higher the price is likely to be.
Scale of the Job
Like all construction projects, the price of the job will go up with the size of the installation, but the price per unit is often lower on larger projects. If your installation is for an entire house, the cost per board foot of insulation may be less than for a single room since the contractor’s overhead is reduced. Having the opportunity to work in one place, rather than take on multiple jobs to apply the same amount of material, provides savings on transportation, preparation, and clean up that are often passed onto the customer.
The amount of preparation involved in the job can also have a significant influence on the cost of labor. Installers routinely caulk gaps and mask or cover surfaces that should be protected from the foam during spraying, but if extra steps are required to get the site ready, the work will affect the bottom line. For example, installing sheathing on interior walls to support the foam, removing existing insulation, or covering and masking finished floors or other surfaces can add labor costs to the job. This is an area you may be able to save on by performing some prep work on your own. Check with your installer to see what you can do ahead of time to reduce the burden on the pros, whose hourly rates for extra work could range from $30 to $80 per person.
Preparing for a Spray Foam Installation Project
Since you will require the services of a pro for the installation of spray foam, be sure to get recommendations and estimates from multiple companies in your area. Many contractors install various types of insulation, while some specialize in spray foam, so be sure to talk to different types of installers to get objective opinions on the best insulation products for your job. While spray foam performs well in almost any setting, you may be able to get similar results from a less expensive material, so be sure to weigh all your options.
Pitch In Where You Can
Though your DIY options may be limited with the installation of spray foam, you may be able to save on the job by handling some of the prep and finish work on your own. Check with contractors to see what kind of difference it will make if you agree to prep the site to their specifications, trim the foam after curing, or clean up the site after the work is done.
|$5,200 - $9,000||$7,500 - $12,000||$8,200 - $14,000|
Though installation rates are fairly consistent in a particular locale, the features of a spray foam project site can create significant variances in pricing. In our example, a 1,500 square foot house receives a 3.5 inch application of open cell foam on its exterior walls and in the attic.
A Straightforward Application: $5,200 - $9,000
- • Features of the Project: In this scenario, a new construction home provides easy access to all areas that require spray foam installation. Application is limited to exterior 8’ walls, the underside of the roof, and the attic floor.
- • Special Preparation: Without any finish materials in place, preparation only involves basic caulking and protection of doors and windows.
- • Location of the Job: This job is located in an area with multiple providers, so competitive pricing keeps the costs reasonable, between $0.35 and $0.60 per board foot.
A Little Legwork: $7,500 - $12,000
- • Features of the Project: A little extra effort is required to navigate this project, a partial gut and remodel. Though the exterior walls have been stripped to the studs, it’s a little more difficult to maneuver around interior walls and doorways. Additionally, higher ceilings in some area of the home require ladder work, which adds to the complexity of the job.
- • Special Preparation: Since some wall and finish surfaces will be preserved, more extensive masking is required on this job. Interior walls, light fixtures, and flooring must be covered in addition to standard masking.
- • Location of the Job: A more limited selection of providers drives rates higher in this location, from $0.50 to $0.80 per board foot.
A Specialty Job: $8,200 - $14,000
- • Features of the Project: The remodel project in this example has a broader scope, with some interior walls included in the installation, as well as high ceilings and challenging attic access to contend with.
- • Special Preparation: In addition to common preparation steps required for a retrofit, this project calls for the installation of wallboard panels to temporarily support the spray foam as it sets up on interior partitions.
- • Location of the Job: A broad selection of installers keeps pricing moderate, considering the special features of the job, from about $0.55 to $0.90 per board foot.
Level of Difficulty
Although small DIY kits are available for consumer use, a large spray foam installation requires advanced skills, specialized equipment, and protective gear, so should be completed by a professional. This limitation makes spray foam a more expensive option than other insulation products that are more DIY-friendly, like fiberglass batts, rigid foam sheets, and even blown-in loose fill.