Expanding Spray Foam Installation gaps seals and insulates. Although it’s simple to apply, removing excess spray foam, once it has cured and expanded, can be difficult since you will need to sand it down. Uncured expanding foam, which is still soft and moist, can be removed with a solvent. In fact, attempting to clean uncured expanding foam residue with a non-solvent solution may actually cure it rather than clean it.
Things You’ll Need Plastic putty knife Dry soft cloths Acetone wipe away as much of the expanding foam residue as possible with a plastic putty knife and a dry soft cloth. Moisten a second dry cloth with acetone. Rub the acetone on the expanding foam residue lightly then apply pressure, as necessary, to rub the surface in a circular motion. Re-moisten the cloth with acetone as needed.
Is polyurethane foam, in its sprayed form and as an insulator, actually environmentally friendly? What does 'green' and 'environmentally friendly' mean? All excellent questions, and all of them are not answerable in a word or two. Let's begin with defining the concept of environmentally friendly.
According to the International Organization for Standardization (IOS) the term is too vague to be meaningful. The US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) agrees, but only to a point. The USEPA created the international Energy Star program in an attempt to provide the manufacturers of goods with a voluntary labeling system for promoting energy efficient products.
In the 1990's when the program was started, it was only applied to appliances and electronics. However, today entire homes and home offices are able to gain Energy Star certification. The only criteria is the building must use 15% less energy than a standard home built to the 2004 International Residential Code. How does a home achieve that rating? The things at the top of the list for getting an Energy Star rating are not surprising: insulation, high performance windows, tight construction and ducting, energy efficient cooling and heating systems and Energy Star certified products (appliances, lighting, water heaters).
Now, in reference to insulation specifically, its efficiency is measured according to R-value. An R-value is a mathematical calculation which produces the level of thermal resistance a building has. For the average North American home insulated with traditional fiberglass batts, R-value sits at between 3.1 and 4.3 per square inch. Blown in fiberglass insulation has a typical R-value between 2 and 4 per square inch. According to the US Department of Energy, the same home insulated with spray foam polyurethane insulation will have an R-value between 7 and 8 per square inch. Clearly a home insulated with spray foam would be well on its way to achieving an Energy Star rating, even without installing LED lighting and thermal windows.
When a building is insulated with polyurethane foam, the costs of heating and cooling will undoubtedly be vastly reduced. Many spray foam manufacturers report that energy costs can be reduced by up to 40%; a claim that is both highly likely and easily attainable. With such a diminished use of energy, there is less demand for petroleum-based products and fossil fuels, resulting in a smaller carbon footprint being left on our planet.
We are half way to answering our title question, is spray foam insulation really green? Now we know its immense potential for energy savings, but what about the manufacture of the foam itself? In the case of spray foam, the two substances that come together to produce the foam must remain separate until the time of application. Those two things are polyol (a naturally occurring alcohol) and diisocyanate (a group of organic compounds derived from plant and animal materials). When they are brought together with water, an exothermic reaction takes place producing the polyurethane foam. Although the foam is produced from organic substances, it does not breakdown over time - a good thing for insulation applications, but where does it go when it is no longer needed?
When the intended use of the polyurethane foam has been completed, it can be re-purposed and recycled. For example, the Polyurethane Foam Association has pioneered a program in the US in which spray foam insulation and products meant for the landfill are collected and made into carpet foam underlay. The program is so successful that 80% of all carpet underlay used in the US is made from recycled polyurethane foam. The reduction in waste going to landfills is incredible!
So, is spray foam insulation really 'green'? Yes, it is. Polyurethane foam is produced in an environmentally friendly way in that it is created from organic compounds using very little energy or water, prevents the excess use of fuel in heating and cooling homes and is entirely recyclable for other uses.