Expanding Foam

As the name suggests, expanding foam is a material which hardens and expands when it comes in contact with air. It is a material widely used in filling cracks, walls, crevices, packaging, water proofing, insulating. The need for such activities usually comes in construction industries and any home improvement projects. However, this easy-to-use foam insulation is possible to do it yourself too, even if you don't have some prior experience of working with it.

Uses of Expanding Foam

This lightweight foam is widely used for filling under decks and filling cracks 'n' voids. Also used in different types of insulation and flotation applications. It is mainly used in drought prevention, wherein, old houses have all sorts of cracks and holes and draft can enter in the houses very easily. Thus an expanding foam sealant is applied to all the small cavities and holes to ideally fill 'em up. And not only draft, it can deter all sorts of pests and rats to enter the house as well. As this material has high density, it is used in architectural castings, different support applications.

Some Other Uses

Since expanding foam has a splendid insulating quality, it is used in sealing and waterproofing holes, crevices and other damages in the structure of the buildings or homes. Particularly in case of doors and window frames, expanding foam packaging is the term to use for this discussion. When the ready-made wooden or plastic door/window frames are placed in its proper position, there is still a gap in between the wall and the frame. This foaming material acts as a tight seal to clasp-fit that gap and act as a supportive sealant to the whole area.

Expanding foam acts as the most inexpensive and lightweight prop material in the television and film industry. It is also used to pack and seal objects so that they can sustain long travel as seen in shipping in containers, most importantly, in fire prevention in case of fire taking place in a room or any location. The foam is designed with special materials and is placed in foam tankers. Firemen use those tankers to emit that special expanding foam in a fire in order to douse it.

Tips to Remember

This foam type is not supposed to be applied in places where you store your expensive clothes, jewelry, accessories and footwear. Not even in the rooms that have expensive furnishings and plush carpets, upholstery, etc. The only reason is, that it sticks pretty well to any object. The foam doesn't stick to dirty and damp surfaces though. In case if you plan to clean or remove the foam off any surface, use solvents and cleaning materials, like petrol, for removal. Make sure you wear proper insulation on your hands to avoid sticking around with the smell for long!

Besides all this there is another type of foam insulation called, spray foams (insulation). They are available in spray nozzles, which help in direct spraying of foam into crevices and holes to fill 'em up. Though this material is quite messy to use, it's advisable you hire a professional if you plan to use spray foam in getting a job done.

How to Install a Vapor Barrier

The building envelope comprises the following physical structures - foundation, roof, doors and windows. These physical structures protect the building from external physical dangers, but they are permeable enough to transfer water vapor from the air into the insides of the building or vice versa. Water vapor can harm the insulation of the building, apart from causing physical damage to the walls, windows, and other physical structures. Thus arises the need of a vapor barrier. A vapor barrier refers to any physical structure made up of plastic or metal foil, which prevents the diffusion of moisture from external surroundings to the internals of a building. it can be used to protect the floor, ceilings and walls of a building from moisture intrusion. It is sometimes referred as a vapor retarder, as it retards or stops the flow of moisture into the interiors. But these barriers are often excluded from the construction plan or are just installed incorrectly.

Purpose of a Vapor Barrier
As was mentioned earlier, a vapor barrier helps prevent the diffusion of moisture and water into the interiors of a building. The moisture can cause lots of harm, as it can affect the insulation system of the building. Due to changes in the atmospheric pressure, especially in the winter season, water vapor travels from the interiors of a building to the outside surface, which is comparatively much cooler. As the temperature of the vapor reaches dew point, the water vapor condenses. Condensation harms all the building envelope components, no matter what they are made of. It causes the wooden structures to rot and also rusts the steel. Installing a vapor barrier prevents this condensation problem and thus also prevents the insulation system from damage. Note that water vapor can permeate the building from anywhere, be it the basement (through the soil), walls (surrounding air), or even the roof.

Installing One
  1. Aluminum foil
  2. Polythene plastic sheet
  3. Glass sheets
  4. Metal sheets
  5. Vapor retarder paints
  6. Paper backed aluminum
  7. Asphalt-coated kraft paper
  8. Extruded polystyrene
  9. Metalized film
Vapor barriers are preferred by home owners who want to prevent their house structures from water damage. They are literally a requirement in chilly weather conditions, and should be installed on the insides of the building envelope. It should preferably be installed on the warmer side of the insulation. This is because, water vapor condensation (which is to be prevented) occurs when the water vapor moves from the warm side of the wall to the cold side. Barriers should preferably be installed on the inside of the rooms, and installing them on both the sides of the insulation should be avoided, as it taps harmful amounts of moisture. The installation is very easy and can be done by anyone. 

Step 1: The surface on which the barrier is to be installed should be dry and free from any kinds of debris. Fill all the gaps, like on the window sides or on the doors with caulk. This would make the surface consistent and plain.

Step 2: Choose a proper material for the vapor barrier. The most commonly used material for vapor bags is polythene. They are available in different sizes (from 8 feet to 20 feet) and also thickness. Just make sure that the material you choose is of good quality. Now spread this material on the surface neatly. When installing it on the wall, make sure that the material is enough and some part of it falls below the base level. This will prevent the water from seeping in again into the walls. 

Step 3: To fix the barrier, you just need to nail or staple it. Nailing or stapling the barrier is just enough to keep it fixed.

Step 4: Seal the creases using a waterproof tape. There are specially designed tapes available for this very purpose. 

Step 5: To prevent damage to the newly installed barrier, apply finish to the wall within 1 month. You are done.
Hope the article will help you install a vapor barrier. This will help you prevent the corrosion of the walls due to moisture, and safeguard the walls and other house structures for a long time.

Types of Soffit Vents

Soffit is basically the underside of a building or a beam on the roof top of a room. This underside of an attic can be used for placing the soffit vents, i.e., the air ventilators. What do these soffit vents do? They prevent the build up of ice on the roof in cold weather and keep it cool in hot weather. Attic ventilation should be the primary concern of the builder during construction because it is the area that tends to absorb moisture, and become damp. This dampness produces bad odor and invites various health problems. The place becomes moist and damp because of stacked items not getting fresh air. With development in the technology, various soffit vents have captured the market. These vents do the same job of air ventilation but, differ in their structure and some features. In the following segment, we will learn about the types of these vents in detail.

Soffit Vent Types

Although there are various types of vents available, make sure that you get only the one that is suitable for your house and its attic. Shape of the soffit vent also has to be taken into consideration when it comes to ventilation of the attic. There are two basic categories of soffit vents:

Wide vents designed to fit into the framing
Long strips that are fixed together in a line

The division of these vents is based on these basic categories and the three types of soffit vents are as follows:

Custom Shape Soffit Vents
These vents are mostly found in custom houses. There are two shapes of vents in this category, the round shaped and square-shaped soffit vents. The round shaped range from 3 to 6 inches in size whereas the square-shaped range from 5 by 5 inches to 7 ½ by 10 ½ inches. These vents are available with the individual vents which we will be looking at next.

Individual Soffit Vents
These are the most common type of vents and also very popular because a person can install these vents easily and without professional help. Individual vents are cut to fit appropriately into your soffit beams. As these vents can be cut, they vary in their length and width offering you multiple variations to choose from. Another great feature of this vent is that, it has a screen backing which helps to keep pests and other tiny insects away from the soffit. The materials used for these vents are wood, aluminum and PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride).

Continuous Soffit Vents
These are the second most popular soffit vents. They are extended lined up vents to cover the whole soffit length of your roof. These vents are beneficial for homes that have long and narrow soffit sections. The average length of a continuous soffit vent is 95 to 96 inches and the width is about 2 inches. The material used to design these vents is either PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) or aluminum.

Some other types of attic vents are enlisted below:

Ridge Vents
Dormer Vents
Gable Vents
Roof Vents

These attic vents are fixed at different positions of the attic and so they are named accordingly. All of them are positioned from outside the house, only the soffit vents are placed inside.

How do You Know Your Home Needs a Soffit Ventilation?

Nowadays, all homes need soffit ventilation and the vents are installed during the construction. But, older homes do not have them and even if they are installed later they are inadequate in number. Your own experience can tell you whether you need soffit ventilation or not. All you have to do is, perform a keen survey of your attic and find out the temperature level in different seasons. This will give you an idea about the need of soffit ventilation for your house and the number of vents required.

This was all about the soffit vents and their types which can make your attic a better place for storing your household stuff. Select a proper location to fit your soffit vents to get maximum benefit out of it.

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