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Old 11-22-2008, 05:54 PM   #1
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Spray Foam Insulation

I am wondering if anyone has used open or closed spray foam insulation in their trailer. I am speaking of the professionally applied foam such as Demilic Sealection. In construction we use it to insulate and it is trimmed with shears after being sprayed in place. The closed cell insulation is obviously mostly water impermeable so I am not sure how that would affect things, although the R value for closed is R7 per inch. I think the R value of open cell is R3 or close to that. Although the performance value is higher. If I am not mistaken, open cell foam is R27 performance wise on a 3.5 inch stud wall. We don't use closed cell on exterior attics and walls because it would not let moisture out.

So just wondering if anyong had any thoughts!

Chris Crimmins
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Old 11-22-2008, 05:59 PM   #2
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Welcome to the forums. Spray on (or any) foam insulation is not a good idea. The movement of the walls and outer skin will make the foam crumble to powder. This is any foam insulation, no exceptions.
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Old 11-22-2008, 06:05 PM   #3
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Spray foam only adheres to one surface though while letting the other side float. Not trying to second guess your advice just thinking.
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Old 11-22-2008, 06:55 PM   #4
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Avion used spray foam in there coaches. Check page 10 of this 1970 brochure:
http://silveravion.com/downloads/arc...e_brochure.pdf

I looked at a few Avion's before buying my Airstream and saw no signs of foam deterioration
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Old 11-22-2008, 07:13 PM   #5
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I'am a great believer in spray-foam insulation, the correct foam type, properly applied, can be a good thing. However, many on this forum are totally against, if not aghast at it's use. Their are many threads discussing the use of all kinds of insulation materials and the pro's/con's of each type. Insulation topics are a heated area of opinion.
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Old 11-22-2008, 07:21 PM   #6
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I used to believe in foam insulation, but I've opened several Airstream walls with it used, and the majority of it was in powder form, at the bottom of the walls. Add to that other forum members' bad experiences and acrimony to foam, and you would see why I (and many others) agaist its use.
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Old 11-23-2008, 12:42 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by chriscrimmin View Post
I am wondering if anyone has used open or closed spray foam insulation in their trailer. I am speaking of the professionally applied foam such as Demilic Sealection. In construction we use it to insulate and it is trimmed with shears after being sprayed in place. The closed cell insulation is obviously mostly water impermeable so I am not sure how that would affect things, although the R value for closed is R7 per inch. I think the R value of open cell is R3 or close to that. Although the performance value is higher. If I am not mistaken, open cell foam is R27 performance wise on a 3.5 inch stud wall. We don't use closed cell on exterior attics and walls because it would not let moisture out.

So just wondering if anyong had any thoughts!

Chris Crimmins
Spray on foam insulation was tried by Airstream in a few 1969 entrance doors.

It was a huge failure.

Dometic used it in the reefer doors. Again a huge failure.

Spray in foam also contains formaldehyde, which has been deemed very unhealthy to breathe.

Trailers that were quickly made for victims of Katrina, contain spray insulation, that the feds are raising devil about, because it has been causing many health problems.

Spray on foam insulation, if you don't mind the health hazard, will not take vibration of any kind. Vibration will cause the foam to turn to powder.

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Old 11-23-2008, 09:47 AM   #8
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Several aircraft manufactures tried injecting foam insulation several years ago and was a complete failure. The foam broke down and then was saturated with water that caused severe corrosion internally. Great for static structures but terrible with anything dynamic.
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Old 11-23-2008, 02:52 PM   #9
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Squeaky Insulation

Back around 79 I was customizing a van. A freind was doing the same with his. He used spray insulation, I used fiberglass with a spray glue to hold it in place until the wall were installed. I never had a problem.

His van was -- well a bit squeaky
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Old 11-23-2008, 04:57 PM   #10
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This is always an interesting subject so I'll add my perspective. Personally, I wouldn't use it, however I have been known to use mastic to attach blue styrofoam boards to the inside surfaces of exterior skins to improve the R-value of the wall. Again, like I said I wouldn't spray or pour in urethane foam in the walls of an Airstream for a couple reasons. First, it is exothermic, meaning when it is expanding as it is sprayed or poured, it gives off heat, which could cause distortion in exterior panels. Second, it expands when it is sprayed or poured, this could make the exterior of the trailer look like the "Michelin man" if not controlled very carefully. As for crumbling, my experience using poured closed cell urethane foam (US Composites 2 lb. density closed cell urethane) in windsurfing boards has shown the foam to be extremely durable. Consider that most surfboards are made from the stuff. Perhaps the foam that was experimented with above wasn't up to the durability specs of that used in surfboards. Closed cell urethane foam won't absorb much water so it's a good material to use for floating docks, but open cell foam is easily saturated and it does not give up the water very easily, leading to corrosion.
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Old 11-23-2008, 07:49 PM   #11
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This is always an interesting subject so I'll add my perspective. Personally, I wouldn't use it, however I have been known to use mastic to attach blue styrofoam boards to the inside surfaces of exterior skins to improve the R-value of the wall. Again, like I said I wouldn't spray or pour in urethane foam in the walls of an Airstream for a couple reasons. First, it is exothermic, meaning when it is expanding as it is sprayed or poured, it gives off heat, which could cause distortion in exterior panels. Second, it expands when it is sprayed or poured, this could make the exterior of the trailer look like the "Michelin man" if not controlled very carefully. As for crumbling, my experience using poured closed cell urethane foam (US Composites 2 lb. density closed cell urethane) in windsurfing boards has shown the foam to be extremely durable. Consider that most surfboards are made from the stuff. Perhaps the foam that was experimented with above wasn't up to the durability specs of that used in surfboards. Closed cell urethane foam won't absorb much water so it's a good material to use for floating docks, but open cell foam is easily saturated and it does not give up the water very easily, leading to corrosion.

Thanks for the great reply. In my experience of using the spray foam it does give off a generous amount of heat. I will say one thing though in reference to the few above comments about the off gassing. The new foam is usually soy based and is not near as volatile as foam in the past. If you are only spraying on one surface, I don't believe the expansion part would hurt the skin since it expands towards the path of least resistance. outward. Anyway, thanks for the great comments.
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Old 11-23-2008, 08:29 PM   #12
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Several aircraft manufactures tried injecting foam insulation several years ago and was a complete failure. The foam broke down and then was saturated with water that caused severe corrosion internally. Great for static structures but terrible with anything dynamic.
Bingo! we have a winner! Spray/Expanding foam has it's uses. But Airstreams aren't one of them. YMMV

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Old 12-09-2008, 12:02 AM   #13
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We have had two trailers in for segment replacement in which someone had installed spray foam for insulation during a restoration. In both cases the foam was very well bonded to the interior and exterior skins. In order to replace the damaged segments we had to disolve the foam using nasty chemicals. In one case the insurance company totaled the trailer rather than paying the cost to remove the foam. We also noted that there was heavy filiform corrosion on the backside of the aluminum in the places where water could accumulate.

We insulate with Polyisocyanurate foam panels to achieve about R-12 in our projects. The panels are faced with aluminum which allows us to use aluminum tape to form a sealed vapor barrier and keep the moisture away from the skin. We order a specific type of polyiso foam which contains a high number of glass fibers and a high carbon black content. The glass and the foil keep the foam from breaking down into the "dust" others have described. The cabon black significantly reduces the flammability of the foam. It is waterproof.

While "polyisocyanurate" is a terrible sounding name the product is quite green. It does not contain formaldahyde. It does not off-gas nasties into your confined cabin environment. In the event of a fire it does not off-gas toxins.

The main draw back is that it requires about 3 to 4 times longer to install than fiberglass.

Fiberglass is frequently treated with formadahyde to prevent mold formation and rodent and insect infestation. In year round use in cold climates fiberglass can become water laden through condensation and loose all of its insulating qualities.

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Old 12-11-2008, 05:45 PM   #14
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where does one get this "polyisocyanurate" form? And how is it installed?
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Old 12-11-2008, 06:58 PM   #15
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The varieties and qualities of insulation have changed a lot in recent years. For example, some spray foams expand very little because of complaints about ones that expanded so much they caused problems such as distorting vinyl windows. I have no idea about spray foam turning to dust, but perhaps newer ones don't do that.

Polyisocyanurate panels have been available for some time and have different qualities depending what you order. I'm not sure what you can get at places like Lowe's, but building supply stores should be able to advise you about what is available. Foam panels should be available with much better R value than the fiberglass Airstream uses. The hard part about foam panels is making exact fit because it's the air spaces that are the problem. The best insulation isn't worth much if there are air spaces and that's why people love spray foam. I like the idea of using aluminum tape. The metal ribs transmit so much heat, it's hard to insulate these trailers really well.

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Old 12-11-2008, 07:36 PM   #16
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Streamline also used spray-in insulation by about 1970; it'd be nice to see how well or poorly this method worked if anyone has seen the interior panels of a Streamline or Avion. I'm guessing, based on the above comments, that it was not so effective long-term, but, still, it would be nice to put the idea to rest (short of modern-day alternatives).
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Old 12-11-2008, 08:09 PM   #17
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Just was at a home expo. They had a soybean based spray foam 100% edible!!! They had pieces of it you could taste (I passed) and NO there was no smell to attract rodents!!!
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Old 12-11-2008, 08:48 PM   #18
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I've seen this product used on the Green channel (my new favorite channel) on dish network. I think it was on one of the "Living with Ed" shows. (Ed Begley Jr.) It was awesome...for homes! Besides all the good things about the foam it has a good R rating as well.
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Just was at a home expo. They had a soybean based spray foam 100% edible!!! They had pieces of it you could taste (I passed) and NO there was no smell to attract rodents!!!
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Old 12-12-2008, 01:19 AM   #19
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Has anyone thought of using bedliner material over the interior of the outside skin and ribs to seal the gaps and seams? It bonds really well and is flexable. Just a thought.... Or a brain fart......
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Old 12-13-2008, 12:29 AM   #20
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To most effectively stop leaks you really need to stop them completely on the outside of the vehicle. If the moisture can wick in between the aluminum sheets, or worse between aluminum and steel components, filiform corrosion is not far behind. Once the water starts inside it continues inside.

There could be a corrosion problem with applying the truck bed liner over aluminum. The product is made to go over painted steel. I would contact the manufacturer of the product prior to application; you certainly wouldn't want to cause any further problems.

There are already several products made specifically for making these modifications that have been proven over several years of service. Acryl-R, SikaFlex, and Parlastic are just a few. These products are available at many locations including Airstream.com and your local Airstream dealer.

Brett
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We like to stick to proven methods when we work on a client's coach. We do take innovative approaches and use new materials on a frequent basis. However, we spend a great deal of time in research and/or testing before we apply these solutions to client's vehicles.
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