Insulation begins

It’s a big day. Ranserve is insulating Emerald Hill. Framing is done. ┬áPlumbing rough-in is done. Drywall comes next.

Eleven years ago, when we built Sea Eagle with Hagy Custom Homes, we were one of the first homes in Austin insulated with BioBased spray foam.

Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) is a spray-applied plastic that can form a continuous insulation and air sealing barrier on walls, roofs, around corners, and on all contoured surfaces. It is made by mixing and reacting unique liquid components at the job site to create foam. The liquids react very quickly when mixed, expanding on contact to create foam that insulates, seals gaps, and can form moisture and vapor barriers. SPF insulation is known to resist heat transfer extremely well, and it offers a highly effective solution in reducing unwanted air infiltration through cracks, seams, and joints. Spray foam makes sense.

Sea Eagle is tight, comfortable, efficient. We believe our utility bills run about half that of nearby homes built about the same time that use conventional fiberglass batts.

So we planned from Day 1 to insulate with foam.

Before Energy Guard Foam Insulators pulled up to Emerald Hill this morning, Ron and Cris from Ranserve walked the house sealing up small penetrations with cans of spray foam. They also took the time to spray behind every electrical outlet in every exterior wall — “because the big guns the insulators use don’t always hit behind the electrical boxes,” said Ron.

An example of the attention to detail from Ron and Cris as they prepared the house for insulation -- spray foam applied behind every electrical box in every exterior wall, sealing any air gaps.
An example of the attention to detail from Ron and Cris as they prepared the house for insulation — spray foam applied behind every electrical box in every exterior wall, sealing any air gaps.

To spray two liquids that instantly react to create foam, you have to have a surface to spray — so Ron and Cris installed drywall on the shared walls between the mudroom and garage — the first drywall screwed into Emerald Hill!

Ron, left, and Cris, right, in the garage, with drywall wrapping around the mudroom.
Ron, left, and Cris, right, in the garage, with drywall wrapping around the mudroom.
Downstairs, in bedroom 1, the insulation team begins installing sound insulation -- fiberglass batts designed to attenuate the transfer of sound between rooms and floors. Expanding foam insulation is not as efficient at reducing noise as the loose batts, which trap sound in voids and fibers.
Downstairs, in bedroom 1, the insulation team begins installing sound insulation — fiberglass batts designed to attenuate the transfer of sound between rooms and floors. Expanding foam insulation is not as efficient at reducing noise as the loose batts, which trap sound in voids and fibers.
The batts come squeezed into sausage-like bales.
The batts come squeezed into sausage-like bales.
Here's the back end of the pumper truck. Blue barrels of the liquid foam components on the right side of the truck. Batts waiting to be used on the ground, still in protective wrapping.
Here’s the back end of the pumper truck. Blue barrels of the liquid foam components on the right side of the truck. Batts waiting to be used on the ground, still in protective wrapping.
About one hour later, most of the ceiling in bedroom 1 is insulated with sound-absorbing batts -- and, already, noise reverberates significantly less.
About one hour later, most of the ceiling in bedroom 1 is insulated with sound-absorbing batts — and, already, noise reverberates significantly less.
The East and South walls of the master bath, foamed. At right is the wall between the master bath and master closet, with plywood blocking installed to support the shelving and storage that Jacquela plans.
The East and South walls of the master bath, foamed. At right is the wall between the master bath and master closet, with plywood blocking installed to support the shelving and storage that Jacquela plans.
Liquid parts A and B mix just ahead of the spray nozzle. As the mix hits the wall, it's a liquid. In seconds, it begins expanding into every corner that conventional insulation would never reach.
Liquid parts A and B mix just ahead of the spray nozzle. As the mix hits the wall, it’s a liquid. In seconds, it begins expanding into every corner that conventional insulation would never reach.
The installer moves quickly from stud bay to stud bay in the master bedroom.
The installer moves quickly from stud bay to stud bay in the master bedroom.
Overhead, a second installer has begun spraying foam against the underside of the roof decking. When this job is done, the attic and exterior walls will become one system, sealed and insulated with foam -- a cooler turned upside down, pinned against the concrete slab, able to keep drinks and humans hot and cold for long periods of time with minimal use of energy.
Overhead, a second installer has begun spraying foam against the underside of the roof decking. When this job is done, the attic and exterior walls will become one system, sealed and insulated with foam — a cooler turned upside down, pinned against the concrete slab, able to keep drinks and humans hot and cold for long periods of time with minimal use of energy.
The model train room gets foamed.
The model train room gets foamed.
And here's the train room after the installers shift to the next-door loft.
And here’s the train room after the installers shift to the next-door loft.
The loft, foamed, with one of the spray guns hanging from the ceiling rafters.
The loft, foamed, with one of the spray guns hanging from the ceiling rafters.
Ron asked the installers to spray a "loaf" of foam against a plastic sheet. Ron will use this to seal any holes he has to make in the house as construction continues after insulation is complete. He will slice out chunks as he needs them. The foam weighs almost nothing. This loaf is probably four feet by eight feet and you can pick it up with one hand.
Ron asked the installers to spray a “loaf” of foam against a plastic sheet. Ron will use this to seal any holes he has to make in the house as construction continues after insulation is complete. He will slice out chunks as he needs them. The foam weighs almost nothing. This loaf is probably four feet by eight feet and you can pick it up with one hand.
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