Insulating Foam: What Is It and How to Use it for At-Home Repairs

Sealing a Kitchen

NoteThis DIY article is provided as a general guide only, and is not intended to take the place of product-specific installation procedures; always follow applicable manufacturers’ instructions. Depending on your home’s age and condition, location within the home, and other potential factors, repairs and/or upgrades or other services may be necessary prior to the beginning and/or completion of your project that may involve the services of a home improvement professional. This article does not include advice pertaining to local building codes and/or any related inspections​

Whether doing some general home maintenance or finishing up a home improvement project, one thing’s for certain: it’s important to seal gaps and cracks to prevent drafts and energy loss. Learning how to seal with insulating foam is a great skill, as it can help maintain your home’s energy efficiency, helping you reduce energy costs like heating and cooling!
 
THE BENEFITS OF INSULATING FOAM
This kind of expandable foam does a great job at filling wide gaps and cracks, stopping airflow and keeping your home more energy efficient. Cracks of all sizes, whether they’re larger than an inch or smaller than an inch, can be filled with insulating foam, making it an efficient choice when protecting your home from water, rodents and drafts. They also have an R-value that can help contribute to your home’s existing insulation.
 
HELPFUL TIPS FOR USING INSULATING FOAM
If you’re a first-time DIYer, keep these few installation tips in mind:

  1. Use an extension tube – in some hard-to-reach areas of your home, using the short, rigid straw on the insulating foam can make reaching spaces difficult. You can mitigate this by utilizing a long, ¼-in plastic tube to extend the straw and reach those places. Just make sure to rinse the tube and keep it clean after each use!

  2. Don’t overfill – many first-time users overfill the gap or crack they’re trying to fill with insulating foam. When preparing to spray your insulating foam, have a plan of action. Know how deep or large the space is and only fill it 50% of the way. The foam will expand to fill the whole thing.

  3. Use water in a pinch – polyurethane-based insulating foams rely on moisture to fully expand and work efficiently. So, if you’re in a drier climate, or in a hurry, use a spray bottle to lightly mist the insulating foam you’ve already applied. Be careful not to make the seam too wet, as it will have a hard time sticking to the surface long-term.

  4. Leave your mistakes – when using foam, accidents are inevitable. But they’re certainly not the end of the world.

    However, you’ll be tempted to try and wipe away your mistake when it happens. Do not do this! It will only spread the mess and make it harder to clean up later. Instead, let your mistake completely dry and harden, then sand it away or slice it away with a serrated knife.

  5. Be mindful of location – not all locations need powerful expanding foam. Attics and basements likely need it most because joists are where much energy is lost from your home.

    Windows and doors, for example, don’t need an expanding foam that expands aggressively. That force can push the jamb in, making it difficult to open and close. Instead, use a product specifically for windows and doors.

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GE SEALANTS & ADHESIVES HAS THE SOLUTION
We offer a variety of foam insulation products that can help keep drafts out of your home while increasing energy efficiency. And, they cover a range of projects, too!

Our Gaps and Cracks Insulating foam offers an airtight seal in gaps & cracks less than 1 inch, while Large Gaps & Cracks Insulating foam expands to seal gaps greater than 1 inch, offering a tight, weatherproof seal. Our Window & Door Insulating foam seals gaps & cracks around window and door frames without causing bowing, while still offering an airtight and water-resistant seal.

All three of these insulating foam products help save energy by reducing drafts, stop rodent infiltration and create a water-resistant barrier for moisture-prone areas. And, each product offers R-5 for each inch of foam used, fortifying your home’s existing insulation.

Insulating foam can be a tricky product to use, but with these tips, we hope you’ll feel more confident approaching your next project!

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