If you are building a new residential space and want to insulate the walls, spray foam insulation is the best option to ensure energy efficiency. However, if you've never worked with this fantastic but finicky product before, there are some important tips to keep in mind:
Tip: Understand Spray Foam Insulation Is Irritating to the Lungs and Skin
Although spray polyurethane foam is relatively safe, it is made of isocyanates, which are known to cause lung and skin irritation.
To ensure you stay safe during the spray foam insulation installation, you must completely cover your skin and wear a respirator to protect your lungs.
Since it is hard to get foam insulation off of anything once it has cured, make sure to wear disposable coveralls, shoe covers, disposable gloves, and inexpensive safety goggles.
Tip: Understand Spray Foam Insulation Sticks to Nearly Everything
The one positive and negative aspect of working with polyurethane spray foam insulation is that it sticks to nearly everything. While this can be fantastic when the insulation is installed in an area where you want it to stay, it isn't so wonderful when it lands on a surface where you don't want it to be.
There are two ways to remove spray foam from areas where it has inadvertently landed. The first is to scrape it off with a putty knife. Sometimes you'll get lucky, and the foam will come off all in one big chunk.
The second way to remove spray foam is to dissolve it with acetone before it has had time to cure. You can also use acetone after scraping, and it will sometimes remove the little chunks left behind.
Tip: Always Test Spray Foam Before Attaching a Tip and Installing It
Spray foam sold for DIY applications comes in two containers that are mixed together as the foam is sprayed. Always do a test spray on some scrap cardboard to ensure the chemical containers are flowing at the same rate and the foam is expanding as expected.
Do the test before you add a tip, or you will ruin a tip before you ever get started. You have to change tips each time you stop spraying because the foam will quickly start to cure. If you attach one for the test, you will need to remove it and attach another by the time you need to install the foam.
Tip: Lubricate the Spray Gun Each Time You Change Tips
Lastly, every time you put a tip on the spray gun, you first need to lubricate the attachment point. This is vital because lubrication keeps hardened foam from permanently attaching the tip to the spray gun. Most kits will come with lubricant. If your kit doesn't come with any or needs additional lubricant, you can use petroleum jelly.
Contact a professional to learn more about spray foam insulation installation.