Author Topic: DIY spray foam in an old house  (Read 6342 times)

mrsggrowsveg

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DIY spray foam in an old house
« on: November 09, 2015, 07:12:35 AM »
We have a 1920's farmhouse.  It is very cold in the winter.  Our utility room in particular is very cold and pipes will freeze if we don't leave it open to the rest of the house.  It is above a cellar with an old cistern and has no insulation beneath it.  We had an insulation company come out and they said that we would have to do spray foam in that room.  They quoted $800 to do the floors under there and under the kitchen which also isn't insulated.  We did a bit of research and we can get a spray foam kit for under $800 and do it ourselves and be able to do an even larger area.  Has anyone done diy spray foam?  Any kit recommendations?

argonaut_astronaut

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Re: DIY spray foam in an old house
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2015, 07:23:19 AM »
I DIY just about everything (framing, electrical, plumbing), but the two jobs I have hired out are spray foam and drywall. The DIY foam kits have come a long way in the last five years, but last time I did the math it was cheaper to hire it out.

Have you done the research on closed cell foam vs open cell? As a corollary question, have you decided on a moisture management strategy? Is your kit the same type of foam?

Are you prepared to deal with the mess of doing it yourself? Ever get great stuff on your skin? It leaves a black mark that takes a week to come off. Trimming down the foam creates an enormous mess if you need it to sit flush in the stud cavity.

Do you have the option of getting more quotes for spray foam? I had three bids two were similar and the third was almost double. Hate to have you pick he guy who is the high price.

Spork

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Re: DIY spray foam in an old house
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2015, 08:40:10 AM »
I'm with argonaut_astronaut.  I'll DIY almost anything (and I'll include drywall).  I'm not sure about spray foam.  I haven't seen the DIY kits... but having seen it done professionally... I'm skeptical.  It's  a huge mess ... and damn near requires a space suit to install. 

Ours was done in a new construction house with very little that could be harmed by overspray.  Years later, attic surfaces still have super fine "foam dust" stuck to them -- and I can't imagine you'd ever get it off of something you cared about.

holicanmc

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Re: DIY spray foam in an old house
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2015, 01:08:18 PM »
I DIY'd a spray foam job using a kit from Foam It Green.  We did a single room that had some mold issues so everything was ripped out to the studs except the old carpet that we were going to replace.    Echoing some of what was already said:
- It's still pretty expensive to DIY, the kit I got was about $800
- No matter how careful you are it makes the most god-awful mess. After you release the trigger it keeps leaking out of the gun so it drips on everything, there were giant globs glued to the carpet that were impossible to get off. Tape down a plastic sheet over EVERYTHING you don't want foam to get on
- It is a bit of a pain to trim off the excess once it has expanded, a flexible fine-tooth blade works well but it also creates another dusty mess
- The canisters can be difficult to get rid of; release the pressure, dump remaining liquid into sawdust, dispose of sawdust properly, dispose of canisters according to local regs
- They shipped multiple nozzles for the gun but you still want to move pretty quickly along, if you stop for too long you need to switch nozzles.

On the positive side, the setup and operation of the kit was super easy and actually pretty fun.  If the savings was significant I'd do it again but the next time I'd spend more time prepping the area.  The cleanup was by far the worst part.


BudgetSlasher

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Re: DIY spray foam in an old house
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2015, 06:01:51 PM »
You might also want to price out what it would cost to do it yourself, but instead of using spray foam using rigid foam and then great stuff to seal the panels to each other and the framing.

paddedhat

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Re: DIY spray foam in an old house
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2015, 07:24:57 PM »
You might also want to price out what it would cost to do it yourself, but instead of using spray foam using rigid foam and then great stuff to seal the panels to each other and the framing.

Not trying to be a smart ass, but...............have you ever tried to use Great Stuff, overhead, like you are suggesting the OP does, under his floors? The reason I ask, is that I have, and it is an epic cluster-F.  I did a volunteer job, repairing the underside of a motorhome floor, after some handicap retrofits to the vehicle. The manufacturer sprayed the entire underfloor with closed cell foam, and there were several chunks removed so we could bolt a new wheelchair lift in place. Repairing these overhead spots, with canned foam, left me looking like a monkey trying to screw a football. The only way I succeeded was to bridge the missing areas with duct tape, slit an opening in the tape and spray the "pouch" full. I literally wasted 5X as much as I successfully applied.

 Great Stuff can be great, for filling voids, or other applications where it doesn't need to defy gravity until it cures. If you get the urge to use it overhead, stop. Put a few globs in your hair, let some dribble on the floor, and toss the can in the garbage. You are getting the same result as applying overhead, and not wasting as much time.

argonaut_astronaut

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Re: DIY spray foam in an old house
« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2015, 08:36:59 AM »
You might also want to price out what it would cost to do it yourself, but instead of using spray foam using rigid foam and then great stuff to seal the panels to each other and the framing.

Not trying to be a smart ass, but...............have you ever tried to use Great Stuff, overhead, like you are suggesting the OP does, under his floors? The reason I ask, is that I have, and it is an epic cluster-F.  I did a volunteer job, repairing the underside of a motorhome floor, after some handicap retrofits to the vehicle. The manufacturer sprayed the entire underfloor with closed cell foam, and there were several chunks removed so we could bolt a new wheelchair lift in place. Repairing these overhead spots, with canned foam, left me looking like a monkey trying to screw a football. The only way I succeeded was to bridge the missing areas with duct tape, slit an opening in the tape and spray the "pouch" full. I literally wasted 5X as much as I successfully applied.

 Great Stuff can be great, for filling voids, or other applications where it doesn't need to defy gravity until it cures. If you get the urge to use it overhead, stop. Put a few globs in your hair, let some dribble on the floor, and toss the can in the garbage. You are getting the same result as applying overhead, and not wasting as much time.

The instructions on the can say you can mist the foam with water to speed the cure time, did you try this? I never have and am genuinely curiously if it works.

GuitarStv

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Re: DIY spray foam in an old house
« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2015, 10:32:08 AM »
If you're using Great Stuff to fill large overhead gaps get some of that 1/2 inch wire grid stuff and screw it in place overhead, then spray the foam between the gaps of the grid.  The grid will hold the foam more or less in place and keep most of it from leaking out.  This works OK from my experience.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: DIY spray foam in an old house
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2015, 03:17:26 PM »
You might also want to price out what it would cost to do it yourself, but instead of using spray foam using rigid foam and then great stuff to seal the panels to each other and the framing.

Not trying to be a smart ass, but...............have you ever tried to use Great Stuff, overhead, like you are suggesting the OP does, under his floors? The reason I ask, is that I have, and it is an epic cluster-F.  I did a volunteer job, repairing the underside of a motorhome floor, after some handicap retrofits to the vehicle. The manufacturer sprayed the entire underfloor with closed cell foam, and there were several chunks removed so we could bolt a new wheelchair lift in place. Repairing these overhead spots, with canned foam, left me looking like a monkey trying to screw a football. The only way I succeeded was to bridge the missing areas with duct tape, slit an opening in the tape and spray the "pouch" full. I literally wasted 5X as much as I successfully applied.

I have used great stuff overhead on gaps around HVAC ducts, bath tub drain cutouts, and holes for electrical wiring and I have used great stuff to seal between panels of rigid foam and to seal rigid foam to the framing; granted I have not used great stuff to work on rigid foam overhead so maybe there is a magic situation that makes it worse.

If you are careful in your cutting then the gaps between foam boards or from foam to framing should be minimal (think friction fit to quarter inch). It sounds like the holes you were trying to patch were a bit more sizable and perhaps you needed to use the gaps and cracks formula.

I agree the seemingly single-use cans are a royal pain to use overhead, I switched to using the pro-gun and with the narrow tips added it is much easier to control and add only a small amount.

Great Stuff can be great, for filling voids, or other applications where it doesn't need to defy gravity until it cures. If you get the urge to use it overhead, stop. Put a few globs in your hair, let some dribble on the floor, and toss the can in the garbage. You are getting the same result as applying overhead, and not wasting as much time.

I was providing an option other than a DIY spray foam for the underside of the floor . . . if you think that great stuff gets in your hair and on the floor, I am willing to bet that a DIY spray foam kit will make a bigger mess of the floor and your hair.

I will not deny that great stuff will make a mess, ooze out of the tip, drip on the floor occasionally, and get on your hands. But all of that can be dealt with with proper setup, equipment, and clean up (think gloves, a plastic cover on the floor, and acetone for timely clean up). But, to be honest, from your description, it sounds like you either exceeded the purpose of the formula you were using (trying to fill a larger/deeper hole in one pass), were in too tight a quarters, or need a little more experience using great stuff.

Rural

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Re: DIY spray foam in an old house
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2015, 02:56:34 AM »
 We had our spray foam done professionally because it came out much cheaper that way we were doing the whole of a big house, walls and roof deck, so the cost of the chemicals alone would've been more than hiring the pros.


That said, if you do it yourself, cover every damn thing. I recommend near-disposable clothes,  old shoes, something over your hair like an old ratty hat you don't mind losing.


Cover your eyes. Cover your eyes. Seriously, cover your eyes. Also, if you wear glasses, cover those. You need goggles. They'll fog up. Keep them on anyway.  I was present when the professionals were doing our new house, and my glasses were ruined.  (Etched)

Papa bear

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Re: DIY spray foam in an old house
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2015, 04:53:35 AM »

You might also want to price out what it would cost to do it yourself, but instead of using spray foam using rigid foam and then great stuff to seal the panels to each other and the framing.

Not trying to be a smart ass, but...............have you ever tried to use Great Stuff, overhead, like you are suggesting the OP does, under his floors? The reason I ask, is that I have, and it is an epic cluster-F.  I did a volunteer job, repairing the underside of a motorhome floor, after some handicap retrofits to the vehicle. The manufacturer sprayed the entire underfloor with closed cell foam, and there were several chunks removed so we could bolt a new wheelchair lift in place. Repairing these overhead spots, with canned foam, left me looking like a monkey trying to screw a football. The only way I succeeded was to bridge the missing areas with duct tape, slit an opening in the tape and spray the "pouch" full. I literally wasted 5X as much as I successfully applied.

I have used great stuff overhead on gaps around HVAC ducts, bath tub drain cutouts, and holes for electrical wiring and I have used great stuff to seal between panels of rigid foam and to seal rigid foam to the framing; granted I have not used great stuff to work on rigid foam overhead so maybe there is a magic situation that makes it worse.

If you are careful in your cutting then the gaps between foam boards or from foam to framing should be minimal (think friction fit to quarter inch). It sounds like the holes you were trying to patch were a bit more sizable and perhaps you needed to use the gaps and cracks formula.

I agree the seemingly single-use cans are a royal pain to use overhead, I switched to using the pro-gun and with the narrow tips added it is much easier to control and add only a small amount.

Great Stuff can be great, for filling voids, or other applications where it doesn't need to defy gravity until it cures. If you get the urge to use it overhead, stop. Put a few globs in your hair, let some dribble on the floor, and toss the can in the garbage. You are getting the same result as applying overhead, and not wasting as much time.

I was providing an option other than a DIY spray foam for the underside of the floor . . . if you think that great stuff gets in your hair and on the floor, I am willing to bet that a DIY spray foam kit will make a bigger mess of the floor and your hair.

I will not deny that great stuff will make a mess, ooze out of the tip, drip on the floor occasionally, and get on your hands. But all of that can be dealt with with proper setup, equipment, and clean up (think gloves, a plastic cover on the floor, and acetone for timely clean up). But, to be honest, from your description, it sounds like you either exceeded the purpose of the formula you were using (trying to fill a larger/deeper hole in one pass), were in too tight a quarters, or need a little more experience using great stuff.

A bit off topic here - I was pricing out great stuff cans vs the pro gun. I'll go through a ton of cans on a big project on an older house.   Looking at the price, the cans have a better price to weight ratio.  Is the formula different for the pro stuff?   Do you get more coverage from that than the cans? I couldn't justify buying the gun, more expensive foam, and cleaner if it was going to have the same yield per ounce.


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bacchi

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Re: DIY spray foam in an old house
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2015, 09:26:00 AM »
Open cell foam is a lot easier to clean up and it's also more forgiving with regards to getting the amount juuust right. The cons are the vapor leak and lower R-value.

Spork

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Re: DIY spray foam in an old house
« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2015, 09:42:43 AM »

That said, if you do it yourself, cover every damn thing. I recommend near-disposable clothes,  old shoes, something over your hair like an old ratty hat you don't mind losing.


Cover your eyes. Cover your eyes. Seriously, cover your eyes. Also, if you wear glasses, cover those. You need goggles. They'll fog up. Keep them on anyway.  I was present when the professionals were doing our new house, and my glasses were ruined.  (Etched)

The guys that did ours had throw away Tyvek type suits (with respirators).  The face mask was like a Nascar face mask -- with tear-away shields.  I still find an occasional tear away shield in the attic at times.  They seemed to be tearing them off every few minutes as they moved through the structure.

Rural

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Re: DIY spray foam in an old house
« Reply #13 on: November 11, 2015, 10:35:50 AM »

That said, if you do it yourself, cover every damn thing. I recommend near-disposable clothes,  old shoes, something over your hair like an old ratty hat you don't mind losing.


Cover your eyes. Cover your eyes. Seriously, cover your eyes. Also, if you wear glasses, cover those. You need goggles. They'll fog up. Keep them on anyway.  I was present when the professionals were doing our new house, and my glasses were ruined.  (Etched)

The guys that did ours had throw away Tyvek type suits (with respirators).  The face mask was like a Nascar face mask -- with tear-away shields.  I still find an occasional tear away shield in the attic at times.  They seemed to be tearing them off every few minutes as they moved through the structure.


 I'm sure our guys should've had respirators, and so should I for that matter, but no one did. The guy running the gun was wearing goggles, and he kept bitching about how they were fogging up, but he didn't take them off. Apparently, there's a special kind my that doesn't fog up, but it costs more. I think he was throwing away a pair of cheap goggles each job.


 By the way, one substance that the foam will come off of without damage is sealed concrete. We had lots of gobs on our floor, and They came right  up as soon as they  were dried.


Our pros did the bulk of the trimming for the foam in our walls, but we had to do a little bit of touchup and found that it wasn't difficult at all with a serrated knife. We were not worried about dust since there was sheetrock about to go up, so I didn't notice if it made a lot or not.


 I could see why the pros use the Tyvek suit, but frankly for a one time application, I think thrift store clothes would be cheaper.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: DIY spray foam in an old house
« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2015, 03:08:48 PM »

You might also want to price out what it would cost to do it yourself, but instead of using spray foam using rigid foam and then great stuff to seal the panels to each other and the framing.

Not trying to be a smart ass, but...............have you ever tried to use Great Stuff, overhead, like you are suggesting the OP does, under his floors? The reason I ask, is that I have, and it is an epic cluster-F.  I did a volunteer job, repairing the underside of a motorhome floor, after some handicap retrofits to the vehicle. The manufacturer sprayed the entire underfloor with closed cell foam, and there were several chunks removed so we could bolt a new wheelchair lift in place. Repairing these overhead spots, with canned foam, left me looking like a monkey trying to screw a football. The only way I succeeded was to bridge the missing areas with duct tape, slit an opening in the tape and spray the "pouch" full. I literally wasted 5X as much as I successfully applied.

I have used great stuff overhead on gaps around HVAC ducts, bath tub drain cutouts, and holes for electrical wiring and I have used great stuff to seal between panels of rigid foam and to seal rigid foam to the framing; granted I have not used great stuff to work on rigid foam overhead so maybe there is a magic situation that makes it worse.

If you are careful in your cutting then the gaps between foam boards or from foam to framing should be minimal (think friction fit to quarter inch). It sounds like the holes you were trying to patch were a bit more sizable and perhaps you needed to use the gaps and cracks formula.

I agree the seemingly single-use cans are a royal pain to use overhead, I switched to using the pro-gun and with the narrow tips added it is much easier to control and add only a small amount.

Great Stuff can be great, for filling voids, or other applications where it doesn't need to defy gravity until it cures. If you get the urge to use it overhead, stop. Put a few globs in your hair, let some dribble on the floor, and toss the can in the garbage. You are getting the same result as applying overhead, and not wasting as much time.

I was providing an option other than a DIY spray foam for the underside of the floor . . . if you think that great stuff gets in your hair and on the floor, I am willing to bet that a DIY spray foam kit will make a bigger mess of the floor and your hair.

I will not deny that great stuff will make a mess, ooze out of the tip, drip on the floor occasionally, and get on your hands. But all of that can be dealt with with proper setup, equipment, and clean up (think gloves, a plastic cover on the floor, and acetone for timely clean up). But, to be honest, from your description, it sounds like you either exceeded the purpose of the formula you were using (trying to fill a larger/deeper hole in one pass), were in too tight a quarters, or need a little more experience using great stuff.

A bit off topic here - I was pricing out great stuff cans vs the pro gun. I'll go through a ton of cans on a big project on an older house.   Looking at the price, the cans have a better price to weight ratio.  Is the formula different for the pro stuff?   Do you get more coverage from that than the cans? I couldn't justify buying the gun, more expensive foam, and cleaner if it was going to have the same yield per ounce.


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An apples-to-apples comparison on Lowes website says that fireblock great stuff is slightly less per unit than regular caned fired block and doors/windows is slightly more in the pro variant. (the pro line has limited options compared to the basic cans . . . or at least it does locally).

I am not aware of the formulation being different between the two.

The pro-gun for me are. 1) I find it quicker and easier to use. 2) I have less waste using the gun than the cans. 3) The gun can simply be put down and left for weeks with a can attached and picked right back up and used again (well if you wipe the tip before you put it away or scape the tip before use) where as a partial can of great stuff would require an additional straw to reuse or hoping you poured enough acetone down the straw so that it is not obstructed.

Speaking of the cleaner, it is simply acetone in a pressurized can that can fit on the gun . . . honestly I generally leave a can on the gun and do not use the cleaner unless it is going to be a significant period of time (I think the directions are at least a month) before I use it again.

For me the costs were close, but the ease of use, control and increased speed were worth it to get the pro variant.

mrsggrowsveg

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Re: DIY spray foam in an old house
« Reply #15 on: November 16, 2015, 07:14:33 AM »
Thank you for the responses. We have decided to hire it out.

Bearded Man

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Re: DIY spray foam in an old house
« Reply #16 on: November 24, 2015, 11:08:45 PM »
For something you can't easily undo, I'd hire a pro.