To keep your home warm all year round, consider spray foam insulation. The cost of spray foam insulation ranges from $1,284 to $3,741, with a national average cost of $2,492.
- General range: $1,284 to $3,741
- National average: $2,492
Insulation is essential for keeping a home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. However, different insulation materials have different thermal attenuation rates (R-values) and vary in cost. Styrofoam insulation is one of the best insulation materials for homes because it is dense and its expansion allows it to seal gaps more tightly than other insulation materials. However, it is not the cheapest.
In general, it costs between $1,284 and $3,741 to have spray foam insulation professionally installed, with the national average cost being $2,492. Unlike other insulation materials such as blown cellulose fiber or fiberglass, spray foam insulation installation is not a DIY project. Before you do, determine if spray foam insulation is right for your home and understand the factors that affect the overall cost.
What is spray foam insulation?
Spray foam insulation is usually composed of a polyurethane-type liquid that, when combined with air, expands to fit inside stud walls as well as in rafter and joist spaces. This makes it an excellent sealing material because it can fill even the smallest gaps and reduce air leakage. If you have ever lived in a poorly ventilated window, you know how difficult it is to heat and cool a house efficiently. Air leakage leads to higher utility bills as well as reduced comfort.
Key to Calculating the Cost of Styrofoam Insulation
Styrofoam insulation is laid down 1 inch thick, and the professionals who do this work are very good at keeping the layers even, but the gaps between the studs are deeper than 1 inch. Still, the cost of spray foam insulation is relatively easy to calculate.
- Measure the width and height of the wall and multiply the numbers together to get the area. For example, the area of a 10-foot-wide, 8-foot-high wall is 80 square feet.
- The area of the wall is multiplied by the depth of the stud space. If the wall has 2 x 4 studs, the thickness of the stud space is 3.5 inches. Multiply 80 by 3.5 to get 280. This is the number of board feet to be filled with spray foam insulation. For reference, a board foot is 12 inches long, 12 inches wide, and 1 inch thick.
For open cell foam insulation (see below), filling a wall to a depth of 3.5 inches will cost $123 to $182. These estimates are based on the cost per board foot of open-cell insulation ($0.44 to $0.65) and the cost range for closed-cell foam insulation ($1.00 to $1.50).
Spray Foam Insulation Types and Thicknesses. Open Cell vs. Closed Cell
The typical cost range for professionally installed spray foam insulation is $1284 to $3741, but different types of spray foam insulation vary in price within this range.
- Open Cell: The cells are not fully packaged, resulting in a softer, more flexible foam. The average cost to install open-cell foam insulation ranges from $0.44 to $0.65 per board foot.
- Closed-cell: Similar to open-cell foam, this foam is made by expanding a polyurethane liquid with air to seal gaps and spaces. Independent cell insulation, as the name implies, has completely sealed air bubbles. This has two effects. The density of closed-cell foam is higher than that of open-cell foam, which improves moisture resistance. Expect to pay an average of $1.00 to $1.50 per board foot to install closed cell foam.
Labor, Accessibility, and Form of Installation
Labor costs for the installation of spray foam insulation represent a significant portion of the final settlement. Most spray foam insulation professionals must be trained to install specific brands of insulation and will use sprayers specified by the manufacturer. Labor costs range from $50 to $100 per hour, depending on location. Labor rates do not vary greatly depending on the type of insulation, so whether you have an open or closed cell, the labor cost will be similar.
The area to be insulated plays an important role in cost. A small project that requires insulating only 100 square feet of walls will cost an average of $44 to $150 to insulate with spray foam. Most projects, however, are much larger, with a 3,000-square-foot wall area home costing $1,320 to $4,500 to complete.
The cost of installing spray foam insulation also varies by location, depending on the number of companies offering this service, the demand for this service, and average labor costs. For example, the average cost of spray foam insulation installation varies widely in the following areas
- Phoenix, Arizona: $2,240
- Austin, Texas: $2,840
- Chicago, IL: $1,780
- New York, NY: $2,560
Call at least three insulation contractors and request estimates to get more accurate information.
Additional Costs and Considerations
The best time to install any type of insulation is during new construction, when wall spaces are open and insulation is easier to install. At this point, labor costs (about $50 to $100 per hour) to install spray foam insulation are low because the installer has easy access to these spaces.
However, in existing homes, a portion of the drywall must be removed to access the stud space, and if that space is not obvious, certain installers may refuse to tackle the job. Foam insulation is designed to be applied in thin layers, extending up to 1 inch thick. Each layer must dry completely before the next layer can be added. The need to remove drywall to access stud and rafter spaces increases the cost of insulation.
Moisture can damage certain types of insulation, such as fiberglass rod, which tend to lose their insulating effect because they compress when exposed to moisture. Leaks in the wall voids can damage fiberglass insulation, but must be removed before the wall space can be re-insulated, as they can lead to mold growth.
The average cost of mold remediation ranges from $1,500 to $3,500, depending on the size of the area to be treated and local labor costs.
Installing a vapor barrier
Some local building codes require the installation of vapor barriers on exterior walls to prevent moisture intrusion. In such cases, independent-cell spray foam insulation is suitable for use as a vapor barrier. However, open cell insulation is not an acceptable vapor barrier, so if a homeowner wants open cell insulation but code requires the installation of a vapor barrier, an additional vapor barrier will be required and may cost an average of $0.65 to $1.00 per square foot Cost of Spray Foam Insulation.
Cost of Spray Foam Insulation. Types of Spray Foam Insulation
The most common conventional spray foam insulation is polyurethane-based, but there are other types available, some of which are more environmentally friendly. However, choosing another type of spray foam will have little or no effect on the cost of installation, as most of the price difference in installing spray foam depends on the thickness of the product and local labor costs.
Conventional Polyurethane Spray Foam
Most spray foam insulation on the market today is made of polyurethane, which provides good insulation performance, but tends to off-gas within a few years. Off-gassing is the release of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and can result in noticeable chemical odors. Off-gassing is most intense during the first year after installation and should completely subside within four to five years. Expect to pay US$0.44 to US$1.50 per board foot for professional installation of polyurethane foam insulation.
Soy Spray Foam Insulation
Soybeans are grown for a variety of edible and inedible uses, one of which is as a component material for spray foam insulation. Foam made from soybeans contains virtually no volatile organic compounds and has no chemical odors that some people find offensive.
Soybeans can be sustainably grown and harvested, so those looking for an environmentally friendly alternative to polyurethane-based insulation may want to request a soy-based product. Total cost depends on the size of the project. For example, insulating a 500-square-foot ceiling averages $220 to $750, while a larger 2,500-square-foot project can cost as much as $3,750.
Water-Based Spray Foam
As an alternative to polyurethane foam, water-based spray foam is another option. It costs about the same to install and ranges from $0.50 to $2.50 per square foot, depending on whether it is open-cell or closed-cell insulation. The size of the project and the price of labor must also be considered.
Vegetable oil-based spray foam insulation
While some spray foam insulation is made from vegetable oils, most spray foam insulation is made from soybean oil, whose unique composition makes it ideal for creating long-lasting insulation. Its cost would be comparable to other types of foam, but soy- and plant-based foams may not be available everywhere.
Where to Use Spray Foam Insulation
There are several areas of the home that can benefit from the use of spray foam insulation. Because it is sprayed as a liquid and expands to fill gaps, it is airtight, eliminates most drafts, and dampens sound transmission between rooms. Suitable areas for spraying foam insulation include
- Exterior walls
- Interior walls, where sound attenuation is required
- Roof rafters, in conjunction with radiant barriers (if needed) for maximum R-value
- Crawl spaces
- House penetrations such as ventilation pipes, faucets, gas lines, etc.
- Interior stud walls (for sound insulation).
Cost of spray foam insulation. Advantages of Spray Foam Insulation
Insulating a home saves energy and helps maintain a comfortable indoor environment for the occupants. There are several types of insulation, but spray foam can also be used as a sealant and is up to 50% more efficient than other types, such as fiberglass and cellulose fiber.
Reduced Utility Costs
Non-vented windows and other air movement in and out of a home can account for up to 40% of a home’s energy costs. While all insulation materials can improve the thermal performance of a home, spray foam is the only type that can seal air leaks and reduce utility costs. The initial cost of installing spray foam insulation in a home ranges from $1,284 to $3,741, which is higher than installing batts, but if you live in an area with high heating and cooling costs, it can pay for itself in just a few years.
Air sealing and damp proofing
Moisture and building materials are incompatible. Water leaking through the siding can damage the wood of the house. Closed cell foam insulation, which averages $1500 to $2250 for 1500 board feet of insulation, is an effective air-sealing sealant but has an additional purpose that open cell foam does not. Closed cell foam acts as a moisture barrier that keeps water away from building materials.
Styrofoam insulation forms a dense layer between studs, providing good sound insulation. Installing both closed-cell and open-cell spray foam insulation in wall voids can reduce sound transmission. They are very effective when installed on exterior walls to block sound from busy streets or on communal walls separating separate living spaces in duplexes or apartment complexes. Across the U.S., the average cost of insulating an entire house with spray foam is $2,492.
The density and sealing properties of spray foam insulation give it higher thermal resistance than other types of insulation; the R-value is measured by its ability to reduce cold heat transfer by one inch of material thickness. Independent cell insulation provides the highest R-value.
- Closed-cell spray foam. Maximum R-7 per inch
- Open-cell spray foam. Up to R-3.6 per inch
- Blown Fiber. R-3.1 to R-3.7 depending on fiber type.
- Fiberglass Rod: Up to R-3.8
- Rock wool. Up to R-3.3
Spray foam insulation is more expensive than other common insulation materials, but it is not only more airtight, it also has a longer lifespan, lasting up to 80 years, more than three times longer than other types. Considering that fiberglass rods and cellulose fibers lose their looseness and R-value when wet, spray foam insulation can retain its value for much longer.
Mold and Deterioration Prevention
Styrofoam does not absorb moisture, making it resistant to mold. Spray foam insulation is effective in traditionally damp areas such as basements and crawl spaces. Insulating the interior walls of a typical 1,000-square-foot basement costs about $2,100 before accounting for labor costs, while insulating a standard crawl space costs about $80 (materials cost only) before accounting for labor costs.
While you cannot build walls with spray foam insulation, the densest type of foam, closed-cell foam, can increase the strength of the wall support and reduce wall deflection. It can be bonded to the inside surface of the studs and allowed to cure to provide additional shear strength to the wall. This makes it ideal for supporting metal buildings while providing heat resistance. The cost of insulating a 30ft x 50ft metal building with independent foam insulation is between $1600 and $2400.
Rebates and tax credits may be available for home improvements to increase energy efficiency. Contact your local building authority to see if you may be eligible for a rebate program. Also, if a homeowner updates to improve energy efficiency, they may be able to claim the tax credit on their annual income tax return.
Cost of Spray Foam Insulation. DIY vs. hiring a professional
While DIY enthusiasts always try to save money on their projects, spray foam insulation is usually best left to the professionals. Some insulation manufacturers only sell to trained and certified technicians, so there is no DIY option.
On the DIY side, spray foam insulation is available in kits, but it remains to be determined if this type of kit is a good choice. Spray foam insulation is tricky to install because it needs to be applied thinly. If too much is applied at once, it may sag or spread beyond the surface of the studs. In this case, the excess will need to be trimmed off later.
Proper installation of spray foam insulation requires skill, and only technicians certified by the product manufacturer may guarantee installation.
How to Save Money on Spray Foam Insulation
For new construction, spray foam can be sprayed with gaps in the walls and rafters, making it less expensive than spraying an existing home. For remodeling, the contractor must remove some of the wall panels or drill holes to install the foam using the injection method. Homeowners may be able to save some money by
- Find out if your community or state offers rebates or incentives for energy efficiency.
- Choose open-cell insulation. Closed-cell insulation costs $1 to $1.50 per board foot, while open-cell insulation costs about $0.44 to $0.65 per board foot.
- used during the initial construction of the house. Spray foam insulation costs the least prior to interior drywall work because of the low labor requirements.
Rebates and tax incentives may be available for improving a home to make it more energy efficient. Check with your local building department to see if rebate programs are available. In some cases, you may also be able to claim a tax credit on your annual tax return if you update your home to be more energy efficient.
Questions about the Cost of Styrofoam Insulation
Most homeowners will pay between $1,284 and $3,741 to insulate their homes. This cost variance comes primarily from local labor costs and the price difference between open-cell and closed-cell insulation. To get the best value, consider asking the insulation contractor a few questions
- Will the work be subcontracted? If the contractor arranges for a subcontractor to blow the insulation, the contractor typically adds 10% to 15% of the subcontractor’s cost to the final bill.
- Do you install both open-cell and closed-cell Styrofoam insulation? Most companies offer closed-cell foam because it is better suited for roofs and walls, but it costs almost twice as much as open-cell foam, $1 to $1.50 per board foot. By installing open cell foam on interior walls, the cost can be reduced.
- Do you offer whole-house discounts? Ask the company if they offer discounts on insulation in the attic as well as walls and crawlspaces.
Frequently Asked Questions
With the rising cost of heating and cooling homes, homeowners are always looking for ways to save energy and cut costs. Installing spray foam insulation is more expensive than other types of insulation (the national average is $2,492), but the additional cost can often be recouped in energy savings within a few years. For those considering using spray