Spray Foam Calculator estimates prices of insulating your entire home or a single structure, using either Open or Closed cell type insulation.
Insulating a typical 2000 square feet house costs $6,500 using Open Cell, and $12,500 using Closed Cell Spray Foam insulation.
Your insulation cost estimate is based on house size, height, wall and roof framing depth, number of openings, R-value requirements, etc.
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How Much Does Spray Foam Insulation Cost?
Installing spray foam insulation costs around $3.25 per 1 square foot of your house area, for Open Cell insulation, and around $6.30 for Closed Cell. This would include insulating exterior walls and attic space with R-Values that meet the building code.
PRO TIP: This calculator is designed to estimate insulating your whole house, and only with Spray Foam insulation. We have made an Attic Insulation calculator (which is one of the most common insulating projects), which allows you to also get quotes for Blown-in, Roll / Batt fiberglass & mineral wool insulation, as well as SPF, and is made specifically for attics.
The two main types of spray foam insulation are Closed Cell which provides about 6.75-7 R-value per 1 inch of thickness & Open cell which provides about 3.5R-value per 1 inch.
The actual cost difference between these two types is about 50%. However R-Value is nearly double for Closed Cell vs Open Cell. Therefore, heat loss with a Closed Cell will be significantly lower!
Spray Foam insulation is the most energy efficient type of home insulating materials. It provides a leak-tight envelope, and reduces heat loss.
Cost of Spray Foam Insulation Per Foot-Inch
Closed Cell Spray Foam (6.75 – 7R value) insulation costs between $0.75 to $0.95 per foot-inch (1 sq. ft. of area, 1 inch thick).
Open Cell Spray Foam (3.5R-value) costs about $0.35 to $0.45 per foot-inch, depending on where you live in US.
NOTE: In 2021, due to Covid-19 related shortages and massive price increases across practically every industry, the cost of Closed Cell insulation has gone up by about 40%.
In 2020, we paid $0.65 per Foot-Inch for Closed Cell. Now my installer is charging $0.90 per Foot-Inch!
Sure as a repeat customer I could haggle them down to something like $0.85, but anything lower, is unlikely.
For some reason, Open Cell spray foam insulation cost did not change all that much (about $0.05 / Foot-Inch increase).
Increasing your home insulation, will also have additional benefits of reducing your heating/cooling loads. If you are planning to also upgrade or replace your Central AC and/or Heating system, you will need a smaller BTU load unit, which further reduces costs!
How to Use Spray Foam Cost Estimator to Get an Accurate Price Quote
As with any calculation, accurate inputs result in accurate outputs.
Step 1: Accurately measure the outside dimensions of your house, and enter them in the calculator.
Step :2 Select desired type of Spray Foam Insulation (Closed Cell or Open Cell)
Step 3: Building Code Minimum R-Value / Amount of Insulation / Insulation Thickness. Choose if you need to merely meet the Building Code minimum amount or you need as much insulation as you can fit between the rafters.
This is an important step! Different states and even cities have different code requirements for how much insulation you need. It is also up to you if you want to do the bare minimum ar maximize the R-Value.
If you choose “Maximum R-Value”, our calculator will use the wall stud size and rafter/joist size, to calculate maximum amount of insulation that can be installed. For example – in a 2×6 wall stud, you can fit a maximum of 5.5″ of insulation, giving you 38R value in the exterior wall, if you used Closed Cell.
If you choose “Code Minimum R-Value”, our calculator will estimate the least amount of insulation that you can fit in between your studs, joists and rafters, to meet the building code requirements.
In many jurisdictions, for retrofit (old construction jobs) R15 is minimum for Exterior Wall, R38 is minimum for Attic, and R30 is minimum for Crawl Space.
For new construction, R49 is minimum for Attic (2×8 cavity fully filled with Closed Cell) and R21 is minimum for Exterior Walls.
This means that a 2×4 Exterior Wall with Open Cell would NOT meet code! This also means that for Attic, you would have to fully fill a 2×6 cavity (joist or rafter) with Closed Cell Insulation (see additional details about using Open Cell in Attics.
Step 4: Number of floors & Building Height. Select how many floors are in your house. For raised ranch homes, we used 1.4 multiplier to calculate the side of Exterior Walls, which we find to be the most accurate, based on years of experience.
For the height of each floor, we use 9 feet per level. This allows for 8′ ceilings, and 2×10 joists between floors, which is the most common construction method used in US. We chose to not add separate ceiling height input, to reduce complexity, of this already complicated calculator, as high ceiling homes are very uncommon.
Step 5: Roof Slope – this input is important if you are insulating roof rafters (which you can select in the next section), vs Attic (Ceiling) joists.
Basically if you are doing insulated attic space, you will also need to insulate attic walls (the Gable triangle). This would increase the size of wall insulation.
The only time this would not be an issue, is if you had a hip roof (no gables). Once again, Hip roofs are uncommon, and to simplify this calculator as much as possible, we omit this option.
If you chose to not insulate attic space (meaning only insulating ceiling joists), then you don’t need to insulate the gable walls.
Step 6: Wall Stud Size: select if you have 2×4 or 2×6 construction walls. This is important, as stud size limits how much insulation you can put in, by the depth of the wall.
A 2×4 stud is actually 3.5″ deep. Therefore your maximum insulation R-value would be about 24R with closed cell, and 12.25R with open cell.
Step 7: Insulate Attic or Roof. Here you can select if you want to only insulate Attic/Ceiling joists OR do a fully insulated attic, with spray foam going between roof rafters and on gable walls.
Step 8: Joist/Rafter Size – select the size of your Roof Rafter OR Ceiling Joist.
Step 9: Select the number of Windows in your house. Most homes have 2.5×3.5 windows. The calculator subtracts about 9 sq. ft. for each window, from total square footage of your exterior walls.
Step 10: Select the number of Exterior Doors in your house. Most homes have 36″ exterior doors. The calculator subtracts 21 sq. ft. for each door, from total square footage of your exterior walls.
Step 11: Finally select your region (refer to region map below, if you are unsure). This will adjust your cost estimate to the local economic conditions and typical costs of installing spray foam insulation in your area.
Benefits of CLOSED CELL Spray Foam Insulation
Closed cell spray foam offers double the insulation R-value vs Open Cell, by being much more dense (~ 2 lb. per cubic foot VS 0.5 lb. per cubic of Open Cell). Denser Closed Cell has some of the highest insulating properties of any building materials available today, and is typically rated at 7R per 1 inch of thickness.
Closed cell insulation is also considered a vapor barrier, and does not require separate vapor retarder. This virtually eliminates movement of outside moisture from entering the indoor space (and in reverse direction), and prevents most of wood rot that such moisture movement can cause.
Closed cell insulation make the entire building envelope air-tight, and eliminates almost 100% of air leaks that are common with other types of insulation (fiberglass, blown-in, mineral wool, etc.)
High insulating ratings make it ideal in situations where framing is not deep enough, but a building code requires certain level of R-value.
Best example is insulating 2×4 walls (3.5″ actual depth of a stud), where building code requires 15R value, cannot be achieved with Open Cell, but is easily surpassed with just 2.1 inches of closed cell foam.
Cons of CLOSED CELL Spray Foam Insulation
Being so dense, closed cell insulation is sometimes not ideal at insulating small, tight and hard to reach spaces, such as ends of roof lines (eaves), corners, etc, due to much smaller expansion ratio (compared to open cell type). This is easily solved by spraying small amounts of open cell foam into tight spaces, and then doing the main areas with closed cell foam.
Closed cell is 2 times more expensive, compared to open cell, making it sometimes cost prohibitive. However this is rare, as in most areas, building codes are very strict about minimum level of insulation in both retrofit and new construction applications.
Benefits of OPEN CELL Spray Foam Insulation
Open cell spray foam is considerably less expensive than closed sell (about 50% cheaper).
In mild climates, where heat loss is not a major factor, exterior walls with 13R insulation (in 2×4 stud construction) are fairly adequate for keep the house cool or warm (depending on the season). Here is where open cell can provide great upfront cost savings.
Easy to apply and trim the over-sprayed material.
Cons of OPEN CELL Spray Foam Insulation
High vapor permeability (~ 15 perms), may cause damp / soaked insulation, from vapor getting trapped in the foam. This can lead to wood rot, mold, etc. (see below for more details).
Low insulation value can make open cell foam unsuitable for use in walls or attics in colder climates, if roaming is not deep enough, and may not meet building code’s minimum R-value.
When used in attics, may require separate vapor barriers / retarders and in some cases may have to be enclosed by drywall, which nullifies the cost savings.
Using OPEN CELL Insulation In An Attic
When calculating the cost of insulation for an attic (or between roof rafters), we recommend to use closed-cell type of spray foam. There are two reasons for this:
1) Open Cell spray foam is lightweight (1/2 lb. per cubic foot), and offers significantly lower R-Value (3.5R per inch). In many instances it will not meet the building code requirement which is 38R for attics / roof structure, in most places.
2) Open Cell insulation is not a vapor barrier, and moisture will permeate through it. In many cases this causes damp or wet insulation, and can cause mold.
Read this very interesting study by EfficiencyVermont, published in 2018 called “Why Are Attics Insulated With Open-Cell Spray Foam So Damp?” (backup copy here).
While it is your choice to install either Open or Closed cell foam insulation in the attic, we recommend to use of closed-cell insulation regardless of whether you live in colder climates or not.
In fact, in cold climates (Region 5 and above), a vapor retarder is required, if Open Cell spray foam is used.
Therefore many “northern” builders simply opt for closed cell, at in the end it will cost less, than dealing with vapor barriers, etc.
Mild and warm climates are where the current “battle” between builders, architects, engineers and spray foam industry is currently taking place.
Here is an interesting point of view from the “opposing side” on use of open cell foam in attics in warmer climates.
Bottom line, there isn’t a huge difference in cost (considering massive savings on energy costs), when upgrading to closed cell foam insulation in attics.
While it will cost more upfront, think of future energy savings, which will eventually cover the extra cost and will be saving you money (typical “payback” is 3-7 years).
Also, in many states and even cities, building code pretty much requires using Closed Cell to meet minimum R-Value (see “Building Code & R-Value Requirements” section).
Therefore, using Open Cell may not even be an option for you.
Finally, you can calculate these two parts of the job separately: Walls Only option with open cell, and attic/roof with closed sell, vs. the whole job with one type of spray foam. Select “Walls Only” or “Attic Only” option & select desired type of spray foam.