Tiger Foam Insulation ?

Discussion in 'Remodel Forum & Blog' started by Rich B, Aug 19, 2009.

  1. Rich B

    Rich B DIY Senior Member

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    283
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    New Jersey
    I need to insulate some walls in my house and was considering using Tiger Foam that is offered on their website tigerfoam.com Anyone have any experience with this stuff ? It's pretty expensive but would be very convenient to just inject it into existing walls thru the sheetrock......I have an interior wall that would benefit from some sound deadening and some exterior walls that are not insulated.......
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2009
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

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    foam

    If you could be sure that it filled the entire cavity without creating pressure that would damage the wall, then it should work. Even if there are voids, however, it would still be better than nothing.
  3. Dana

    Dana In the trades

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    Slow-rise foams are a LOUSY DIY project- they're best done with a thermal imaging camera to track the rise level, so you fill a little, wait a little, then add a little more to top it off for a full fill. (The stuff is hot, you can see it through walls.) Otherwise you'll typically end up underestimating and leaving a 10% void in some cavities, or overestmating and blowing/bowing out the wall in others. Any obstructions from plumbing,framing, dead squirrels & rats, etc. and interfere with the fill leaving voids, reducing performance.

    If you have an open cavity (you've stripped it down to the studs on the inside), it's an OK DIY project with a little practice, but cost-wise the kits are as-expensive as the pros charge to do it with their controlled flow fully temperature controlled (and expensive to buy) spray systems. Wheh you screw it up, it's your problem- if they do, well, they're on the hook for something.

    Kits like that are far better for DIY sealing jobs or very small insulating jobs that you can't get a pro to do. Tiger Foam is nominally 2lb/ft^3 density closed cell foam- very good stuff, but also very vapor retardent, and you need to pay attention to where it's applied to avoid creating vapor traps an mold conditions. If you want to insulate & seal the outside of your AC ducts with it, great, but for an insulation project of any sizes the pros will do it better.

    If you're not stripping it to the studs and want a high density insulating cavity fill, dense-packing cellulose to 3lbs/ft^3 is a reasonable DIY project, and you're less likely to leave big undetected voids or blow out the walls. The clear-wall R-value of a dense-packed studwall will only be about 3/4 that of a perfectly filled 2lb foam sprayed app, but it'll be slightly higher than a half-pound slow-rise foam fill. If you have even 5% voids with 2lb foam it'll perform no better than dense-packed cellulose.

    Dense-packing cellulose involves snaking a skinnier blower tube into the cavity all the way to the end, from a single drill hole- you may need to fab a narrowing adaptor and buy 10' of 1"-1.25" tubing to be able to do it with a rental unit, but it's not rocket-science. And because you're probing the entire cavity with the tupe you'll find 99% of the obstructions that might lead to a void, and in most cases work around them. Sometimes that meand a second hole, sometimes you'll be able to snake the tube in. Since it's blowing small flakes & powdered goods under air pressure it'll find & the voids more readily than drips of foam relying on expansion alone. A guy named Rick Karg has a whole bunch of web-published tips of the trade on dense-packing cellulose- google it, study up before committing to it. A reasonable DIYer can easily handle it, and is far more likely to end up with a satisfactory result than with DIY foam. (Even with rentals it'll be far cheaper too.)
  4. Rich B

    Rich B DIY Senior Member

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    283
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Very interesting, thanks. The reason I am considering the Tiger Foam is the ease of installing it. They have some very detailed install guidelines and it sounded like it would work well in an enclosed wall space. Gutting the sheetrock would be easy and just using std insulation in the one room I want to do would not be hard other than the mess....and the added work of redoing the sheetrock. The main divider wall I want to do divides the house and is 2 story. sound deadening was my main goal there and removing the sheetrock would be a real project as the wall is next to the stairway.
  5. Lakee911

    Lakee911 I&C Engineer (mostly WWTP)

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    The thing about foam is you have one oppurtunity to do it right. If it is only partially filled with voids all over, you are SOL. This is why I didn't even hire a pro to do my house. I used cellulose for mine (not DIY).

    Jason
  6. Dana

    Dana In the trades

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    Easy is in the mind of the beholder, but it takes a bit of practice, and it's 3x the cost of cellulose or fiberglass. The slow-rise pour stuff is definitely NOT easy to get right without infra-red imaging and a lot of patience. The spray stuff isn't rocket science but you need to keep an eagle-eye on the temperatures to get consistent results, and a botched job is a complete PITA to hack out and fix. The stuff is pretty rigid and sticks like glue (very similar chemistry to Gorilla Glue) - it adds a lot of structural rigidity to the wall too.

    You can dense-pack blown fiberglass and get slightly higher R value than cellulose, but it's not clear whether the acoustical dampening is as good with dense-packed FG as it is with cellulose. It's largely about density, but I'm not sure what densities you can achieve with blown fiberglass before the R-value begins to drop. With cellulose R-values start to drop at densities of ~4lbs/ft^3 or higher, but it's hard (impossible?) to get those densities with a cheap rental blower. 3lbs is pretty easy, 3.5lbs is a bit harder but often achievable.

    Cellulose @ 3lbs/ft^3 has better acoustic attenuation than urethane foam @ 2lbs/ft^3 simply by virtue of being 1.5x the mass, and it's dramatically better/denser than any fiberglass batting. If you're serious about sound breaks, staggered-stud double stud walls with dense-packed fiber fill, and a secondary layer of gypsum glued on with acoustic dampening cement (Green Glue, et al) will knock it back well over 50dB, but that doesn't seem like your goal here (or is it?)

    If you're good at patching 1.5" holes in sheet rock, dense-packing cellulose is pretty cheap easy & effective compared to gut & replace using 2lb foam in the 600 board-foot kits, and easier to get right than slow-rise foam. One hole per cavity, it's not a huge patch job.

    If you're still hot on the foam concept, if it's more than 1000 board feet, between the respirator (mandatory, unless the prospect of inhaling expanding foam doesn't bother you), extra tips, & tyvek suits, it's usually cheaper to call in a contractor who REALLY knows how to spray 2lb foam. Like I said, the kits only make economic sense for very small jobs- the foam-guys usually come in with an installed price lower than your material costs for the just the foam. (In my neigborhood it's anywhere from $1-1.25/board foot, depending on the size of the project. The slow-rise 600 board-foot kit yields only 517 board feet (if you're perfect at applying it, which you ain't), and runs $610 , or $1.18/board-foot even before they've applied the shipping. The spray-on 600 board foot kit yields 600 board feet, or $1.02/board foot before they apply shipping.

    I've looked at it several ways before, and it's never made financial sense NOT to let the pros do it on anything bigger than a sealing job. Most of the pros will also try to talk you out of slow-rise pours (half-pound or 2lb stuff), and practically make you sign the waiver before they proceed. I take that as an indicator of just how easy it is to screw up cavity pours, and the pain involved with fixing it when you do.

    I ran a half-pound pour-job by a few foam contractors on a project at my own house a coupla years ago. One guy quoted an obscene price, 3 submitted no-bids, another refused to bid based on some of the intra-cavity obstructions, and told me flat out that I'd be insane to hand my money over to the other guy, and that I should dense-pack it with cellulose instead (he isn't in the celluose biz either.) I took his advice, dense-packed it myself, and never looked back. But the whole bidding process quite instructive- if the pros wouldn't touch it, I wasn't inclined to discover why on my own time using an overpriced kit. YMMV.
  7. Rich B

    Rich B DIY Senior Member

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    283
    Location:
    New Jersey
    I did the calculations according to the Tiger Foam website for the area I want to do and was pretty shocked at the cost considering the area. I would need at least 2 600 kits. I watched the videos and read al the info and it did look like it would probably not go as well as they made it sound. I appreciate all your info Dana....sounds like you know a lot about this subject. I have been resisting tearing out the sheetrock but this has helped me make a decision to just do it in one area.....Sheetrock and insulation will have to do...it's messy but I can do it in sections and the cost difference is pretty large. I will look into a better way of getting sound deadening in the divider wall and talk to some contractors.....
  8. KneafseyM

    KneafseyM New Member

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    6
    Location:
    Tulsa OK
    Rich, did you do this project? I am looking at Tiger Foam for my house. Removing plaster walls is not an option when living in the house.

    Mike
  9. Dan W.

    Dan W. New Member

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    18
    Location:
    New Jersey
    A little late, but...

    I had my whole house (new construction) done professionally in closed cell foam, except for one lower level room. Since I had seen how it was done in the rest of the house I was comfortable doing that last room myself. I used Foam It Green instead of Tiger Foam. They have EXCELLENT customer support. You can call them 24/7 while you are spaying and if you have a problem they will talk you through it. I would recommend them, and I have no affiliation with them. I forget now why I chose them over Tiger Foam.

    I have to disagree with something Dana said a couple of times. No way, at least in NJ, can you spray an average room professionally for anything even close to the cost of DIY. If you can get it done professionally for the cost of DIY, then you'd be foolish to do it yourself, IMO. Just make sure the "pros" you use know what they are doing. Check references. Also go to the Mason Knowles spray foam forum. They've got everything you could want to know there.
  10. KneafseyM

    KneafseyM New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Tulsa OK
    Dan,

    Thanks for the lead on Foam it Green I bet you used them because there website is the best I have seen. But they never showed up when I search for slow rise foam.

    Hope to do this in the next 6 weeks in one room we are remodeling. I will try to report back.
  11. Dan W.

    Dan W. New Member

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    18
    Location:
    New Jersey
    Yes, it is the best website. For about the same money that's prolly why I went with them. I also talked to them on the phone about some questions as my particular situation was a little unusual. They seemed to know what they were talking about re condensation issues and so on.

    Good Luck!
  12. Dana

    Dana In the trades

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    That's true in MA too, if you're only doing 500 board-feet, but for anything over 1000board feet it's always come in about the same as the material cost for TigerFoam or even a bit cheaper. Clearly YMMV. (I usually figure on ~$1.15/board foot give or take for 1000+ board feet of 2lb polyurethane @ R6/inch, but in some places it can hit a buck for larger jobs.)

    But doing slow-rise foam (at any density) is typically 4x that cost. (Many installers don't want to touch it at any price unless you grant them a waiver on repairing blow-outs, which was the situation at my own home.) If you're comparing slow rise DIY to slow rise pro, it'll be way cheaper to do the kits. But open-wall the pros are usually quite cost-competitive.

    Fixing a blown wall full of 2lb foam can be a real PITA- the stuff is pretty rugged, and glues the whole mess together. Finding & fixing voids can also be a bit tough. But if it's your house, and your time, have at it! :)
  13. Dan W.

    Dan W. New Member

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    18
    Location:
    New Jersey
    I defer to your superior knowledge! However, I know Foam It Green just came out with an open cell foam (I'm on their mailing list) that is probably a bit cheaper. Depending on the application that might be an option. The slow-rise would scare me, too, but I don't know much about it. If it were 4x the cost of closed cell then it might even pay to rip out the sheetrock and just do it with closed cell.
  14. Dana

    Dana In the trades

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    There are new options every year- Icynene has come out with a 2 lb foam that's ~ R5/inch, with quotes coming in around the ~ 75cent/board foot range, and there are several vendors for 1.5lb closed cell now (also running ~ R5/inch) for similar money. I've yet to see open-cell foam in a kit though. (ocSPF at ~ R3.5/inch is typically in the 40-50cents/board-foot range, installed price.)

    Slow-rise is rarely installed behind sheetrock since the expense of replacing the sheet rock can be less than the additional cost of the slow-rise. It's often done as retrofit behind older plaster & lath or wood-paneled or hard-plastered walls, etc. where the expense of gut & replace (and a blowout repair) can be exorbitant.

    The 602 board foot Foam-It kits are still over $1/board-foot even before shipping and extra spray tips, etc are added in, just as most other ~600b.f. kits from other vendors are. Someone once told me that most of the kit companies buy their chemical from the same single source, so the price is going to be competitive, and they won't/can't undercut the pro-installers by much if ever. But if your local spray foam pros aren't hungry, I s'pose they could be more expensive than the kits. (In this economy I keep hearing about insanely cheap foam installaions- mostly in the southern US, but somehow whenever I get it quoted it's about the same or slightly more than it was 3-4 years ago.)
  15. dlarrivee

    dlarrivee New Member

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    Do the Tiger Foam guys actually claim that it will fill an entire cavity if done right?

    I would never suggest trying to do an entire insulation retrofit job with a DIY system like the ones you fellows are talking about.

    I know they make it seem simple, but plural component foam requires the chemical to be at ideal temperatures in order to get full yield from the product you have purchased... Hence why professional 2lb. spray hose is heated and the chemical is heated to at least 100*F prior to even entering the hose. With any of these DIY kits you have NO control over any of the variables, and you're starting with 0 experience as far as technique is concerned.

    DIY kits are meant for sealing rim joists, or small penetrations and such, not whole home retrofits.
  16. cloughjon

    cloughjon New Member

    Messages:
    1
    Location:
    Virginia
    it works

    Hi, I completed insulation of my entire house with 2lb closed cell foam a couple months ago and am pleased with the results. I have an older house with no insulation in the walls and used the "Touch and Seal" kits for the attic and around the rim joists in the basement. I used the "Foam it Green" slow rise formula for the hollow wall cavities. I had wonderful results. I would not try to do this when it is cold, yield will be much less. Usually we would be running some heat by now, but we aren't. I recorded the inside/outside day/night temps for several days in late winter/early spring with heat off and am comparing the temp in the house now with the previus numbers of similar days. The results are better than expected. RH numbers are higher, house feels more comfy too... If you want the closed cell spray foam, I'd say go for it.. wether you pay some pro or diy...just do it.. I could not find a pro to do my wall cavities closed cell, they all wanted to do the open cell junk, they wanted no part of the attic either, gotta admit the attic was really high on the suck scale!

    Good luck,
    Jon
  17. dlarrivee

    dlarrivee New Member

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    I doubt you got very good yield out of whatever DIY kit you use to try to make 2lb. foam with.

    Get yourself a scale and a graduated cylinder and figure out your density, you'll be surprised how far away from 2lb/cubic foot you are.
  18. Dana

    Dana In the trades

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    Aw, c'mon, Jon SURELY must have controlled the temp of both cans to within a coupla degrees, adjusted properly for the outdoor temp, and the pressure was constant the whole time- it's 2.00lbs density right on the money, fer SHER! ;-)

    Even if it's all over the place for density (probably is), it'll outperform the typical half-pound pour/spray, but probably not by enough to rationalize the cost difference. In the attic where there's more room, a half-pound spray would have delivered better value in $/unit-R.

    Jon- the higher interior RH is primarily a function of the reduced air infiltration- it would take laboratory side-by-side test to measure the effect of the much lower perm-rating of a house-model insulated with open vs. closed cell. We don't live in labs. The larger issues of those dramatically different permeance numbers are on the moisture content of the structural wood. Closed cell reduced the moisture transfer in both directions, and whether it's hurting vs. helping depends a lot on where it's applied, what thickness, and the local climate. Open cell allows much faster drying, and in some apps it's by far the better choice, others, not so much...

    In Virginia's mixed climate there's no moisture performance advantage for going closed cell (unless you're up at 3000' of altitude in the mountains.), and the difference in clear-wall R-value difference in a 16" o.c. studwall is smaller than the R-value/inch numbers might imply. Dense-pack cellulose would outperform open-cell on both R-value and on moisture issues in the wall cavities, but lag the clear-wall R of a decent closed cell installation. It's also easier to "fix" when framing obstructions create voids in foam-pours. (Done a thermal image of your results to verify it? A mere 5% void area can pretty much wipe out any heat-loss advantage. It may be possible to drill & squirt something in, if you find any issues.)

    The relatively recent 2lb foam from Icynene (and some of the 1.5-lbs closed cell polyurethane foams) is higher permeance than standard 2lb polyurethanes, but much lower than open cell foams, and won't saturate the way open cell can in flood situations, and has about twice the drying capacity of polyurethane at any given R value. Even though it's only ~R5/inch compared to ~R6/inch for polyurethane, for basement walls it allows you to go much higher R without drivng moisture upward to the foundation sill. With 2lb SPF you're limited to 2"/R12 before you risk sill-rot, but with 2lb Icynene you don't hit the drying limit until about 5-6", or R25+. Basements & crawlspaces are something of sweet-spot for that product, but in $/R it's also coming in better than standard 2lb SPF too. (It's good to have options!)
  19. KneafseyM

    KneafseyM New Member

    Messages:
    6
    Location:
    Tulsa OK
    I just did 1 room with 3 exterior walls with Foam it Green Slow Rise. This was a retro fit behind plaster and lathe. Initially I ran my snake camera down from the top holes as I was filling the bottom and it looks like it filled in well, but that is impossible to tell.

    The project was very intimidating due to the cost about $750 with shipping. But was actually pretty easy. I spent about 2 hours drilling holes, then 3 of us spent about 1.5 hours spraying it in today. It went very smooth. The hard part was guaging how long to spray so we filled each hole about 4 times.

    In the morning I hope to get infrared temp readings on the walls. In the room I actually have some insulation in 2 cavities when I replaced some siding and insulation and drywall where I just removed two windows so I should be able to see if there is any variance.

    I can't tell how much is left in the canisters, but I might be able to get one more wall done in another room.

    There was definately a learning curve and having 2 helpers was nice.
  20. dlarrivee

    dlarrivee New Member

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    1,172
    Location:
    Canada
    A satisfied customer who doesn't even know if the cavities are full yet...
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