Foam Vs. Fiberglass Insulation: Which Is Better?

Fiberglass insulation is a popular choice in many home insulation projects. However, foam insulation is gaining in popularity and usage. Foam is a polyurethane foam that is sprayed onto the surfaces of walls and ceilings that are being insulated. It expands and hardens as it dries, forming an insulating barrier.

It has a higher cost than fiberglass insulation but may prove to be a higher quality and more cost-effective insulation choice.

Foam Insulation

Many installers will argue that foam insulation is a superior insulator than fiberglass. The greatest advantage that foam has over fiberglass is its ability to expand into areas that may be harder to fill with fiberglass, allowing an airtight seal. Insulating all the hard-to-teach nooks and crannies in your home will result in a significant cost savings in your heating and energy bills.

The foam polyurethane insulation can be sprayed into crawl spaces, tight corners and other hard-to-reach places in the home. The use of form insulation increases the R-value of the home, which is a measure of its insulation capability. A higher R-value means that the home is more energy efficient than one with a lower R-value. This also makes users of foam insulation more environmentally responsible.

Health Benefits Using Foam

Foam polyurethane does not produce fiberglass particles that float in the air and are distributed through a home’s heating and air conditioning system. This eliminate the health risk associated with breathing in tiny fibers or other foreign materials that may be dangerous, particularly for a family member with asthma.

For members of your family who are sensitive to allergens, like dust and mold, foam insulation is preferably because it doesn't introduce this source of irritation. The foam sticks to the area that it is meant to cover and remains there. Fiberglass may deteriorate over time, causing sagging or loose pieces that may be circulated through your home's venting system.

Additional Features of Foam

Foam insulation is more water resistant than fiberglass insulation. Fiberglass actually absorbs water and in time becomes heavy and weighted down by it. This introduces the potential for mold growth and a messy clean-up to replace and sanitize the area where mold and other growth appears. Areas of the country that are prone to floods and hurricanes benefit more from the use of foam insulation in the home over fiberglass.

Foam insulation is fire resistant and acts as a fire retardant, reducing the spread of flames throughout the house in the event of fire. Foam also helps to reduce noise as it provides a total seal in hard-to-reach areas. This could be important to you if you reside near a busy thoroughfare or airport.

Choosing Foam versus Fiberglass Insulation

Choosing between foam and fiberglass insulation may initially be a cost or budget choice. Looking long-term however, you may find that the cost savings that are derived from foam insulation in terms of reduced energy bills and lower replacement and maintenance costs makes foam the better choice. The higher up-front investment will pay large dividends in the future.