It’s probably mere coincidence that on the same day in August, we received two phone calls from competing insulation companies, both known for their fiberglass products. They called to let us know about a quantum shift in their approach to home insulation. Call it a zeitgeist moment, if you will, but it’s a change that makes perfect sense.
For several years now, spray foam insulation systems have been gaining market share. Expanding foam systems such as Icynene, Biobased and others--once considered part of a small niche, got a major market boost as fuel prices soared toward $4 a gallon.
One of foam’s biggest selling points has been its inherent sealing properties. Expanding foam makes up for potential installer errors. That’s also the Achilles heal of fiberglass. Any mistakes made in sealing around mechanicals or in tight corners can compromise energy saving.
In response to these two variables, Owens Corning has just launched the EnergyComplete with Flexible Seal Technology system. It’s a hybrid of foam and fiberglass that seals the wall for air infiltration, priming it for fiberglass. Strategically, it’s move very much in keeping with OC’s corporate philosophy since their makeover in the mid 1990s—Expand, acquire, and package complementary products as a single system.
EnergyComplete helps OC compete with foam’s biggest advantage—foolproof air infiltration. Installers spray a small amount of (pink) foam inside cavities to seal around doors, windows, rims and top plates, then they fill the rest of the cavity with fiberglass. Voila, a wall cavity with no gaps and good insulating values at half the cost of full cavity foaming.
A hybrid system also has a couple of other advantages: For example, it solves many insulation retrofit problems. In older homes, expanding foam can quickly seal large gaps or fill around several generations of pipes and wiring. Also, because the foam is made with non-toxic materials and propellants, it can be installed without the full body protection and external air source required by other foam products. The foam component also sets up in 20 minutes, so the whole job can be finished quickly.
Owens Corning isn’t the only company getting into the spray foam business. Johns Manville recently bought Montana-based Corbond Corporation , a spray foam company, and has also launched its own version of a hybrid system. They’re not promoting it as an umbrella package however—in fact, we couldn’t find any mention to spray-in foam on their residential insulation website.
More Information on Hybrid Insulating Systems
Johns Manville Main Site
JM Insulation Site