Closed Cell Foam vs. Open Cell Spray Foam

It can be tricky to determine which type of foam insulation you should use for your project. open cell and closed cell spray foam can both insulate a home, but they do so differently. Let us examine closed vs. open cell to help you choose the type that’s right for your needs.

Open Cell Spray Foam Insulation

Open cell spray foam is full of cells that are not completely closed. This makes the foam a softer, more flexible material. It can be more cost-effective because it requires less product than closed cell foam.

It can provide excellent insulation in 2×6 walls and attics where thickness is not a constraint. Open cell spray foam also provides excellent sound reduction.

A sample of open cell spray foam insulation

Open Cell Spray Foam Insulation

Closed Cell Spray Foam Insulation

Closed cell foam is made of cells that are completely closed so air and moisture are unable to get inside the foam. Because of this, closed cell is much more rigid and stable than open cell, adding 300-400% more strength to the home. It can be used anywhere in the home, including garages and basements, and acts as a substantial barrier against mold- and mildew-causing moisture.

A sample of closed cell spray foam insulation

Closed Cell Spray Foam Insulation

What’s the Differences Between Closed Cell Foam vs. Open Cell Spray Foam?

Open cell foam and closed cell foam both have different strengths and weaknesses, and one is not necessarily better than the other. Consider the following differences to help figure out which type will be the best for your application.

How Are the Cells Different?

Open cell foam has cells that aren’t completely encapsulated. So, it’s a softer and more flexible material. Meanwhile, closed is much more dense and stable.

Most open cell foam has a density of about .5 pounds per cubic foot. Closed can be over three times that, with a density of 1.75 pounds per cubic foot or more.

How Well Does Each Spray Foam Insulate?

A foam’s “R-value” is its resistance to heat flow or in other words, how well it insulates. Closed has a higher R-value than open, usually between 6-7 per inch. This higher rating makes closed cell foam better at keeping heat in or out of a structure.

Open cell foams have an R-value between 3.5-4 per inch. This is significantly lower than closed, which can limit open cell insulation’s usefulness in extreme temperature conditions or in structures where thickness is an issue.

How Does Each Foam Expand?

Foam expansion is one of the most important differences from an application standpoint. Closed cell foam is designed to expand up to 50 times the liquid sprayed. Open cell foam is designed to expand to up to 150 times the liquid sprayed. So, closed can take more labor to spray the same R-value in a roofline, due to having a lower expansion rate.

Best Applications for Closed Cell Foam vs. Open Cell Spray Foam

Closed cell foam is the best choice for robust insulating where space is an issue, as it can achieve two times the R-value of open cell foam inside a standard wall. Its rigid nature also adds to the structural integrity of the building. Plus, closed acts as a vapor barrier, so water and moisture will be less likely to get inside the home, and the foam itself is unharmed by water damage.

Meanwhile, one of the biggest benefits of open cell foam is that it expands so much after it has been applied, meaning it can insulate hard to reach nooks and crannies in a home. These types of areas can be hard to insulate with closed cell foam.

Open cell foam is also excellent for soundproofing where a single application can completely fill the area between studs. Plus, open can be more cost effective than closed. However, this foam is more limited in where you can use it, and will not perform as well as closed in extreme weather conditions.

Let Us Help You Decide Which Insulation to Use

Choosing the right insulation ultimately depends on where your project is located, what your insulation goals are, and how big your budget is, so let our trusted experts help you choose between closed vs. open. Please contact us to learn more so we can help you get your project started today