How NOT to Use Spray Foam at Home

We all love spray foam, but it shouldn't be used for everything! Here are seven things you shouldn't do with spray foam at home.

spray foam insulation around windowkolokoso/Shutterstock

Spray foam is a great insulation option, but it is especially demanding to apply because it is sticky and drys quickly. The instructions that come with spray foam have to be followed exactly in order to achieve optimal results. In fact, it is incredibly important to study the instructions so you can avoid how not to use it.

7 Things You Should Not Do When Using Spray Foam in Your Home:

1. Buy Expired Spray Foam

Like food, expanding foam is best when it’s fresh or at least not expired. So always make sure you’re getting a fresh batch by checking the `Best by’ date on the bottom of the can.

2. Leave Your Hands, Arms and Eyes Exposed

Expanding foam is nearly impossible to keep off your hands. And once it’s there, it’s equally hard to get it off. So unless you want to wear the foam for awhile, put on gloves. Disposable vinyl or nitrile gloves are a good choice. And wear old clothes because you’ll probably get foam on those, too. When working on larger insulation projects like sound-proofing, choose disposable coveralls with a hood, along with gloves, a face mask and eye protection.

3. Use Spray Foam Around Electrical Boxes

When there is no insulation between the back of an electrical box and an outside wall, it may be possible to add insulation behind it. However, be careful not to get the foam inside the box because it will jam up parts. Plus, many spray foams are flammable. So be sure to use low-expanding foam behind the electrical box, which fills gaps without applying force. See how you can seal drafts around electrical outlets.

4. Use Spray Foam Around Recessed Ceiling Canister Lights

These lights are a prime area for heat loss, but be careful about some types of spray foam insulation around the top of ceiling light boxes. This can trap heat and increase the danger of fire. So make sure recessed canister lights are rated for close contact with insulation before enclosing them in this way. You can still fill air gaps around the electrical boxes for recessed light fixtures with an appropriately sized gasket. Here’s a case for why you should use spray foam over fiberglass insulation.

5. Spray Foam Around Windows and Doors is OK

Sealing around windows and doors is one of the most common uses for expanding foam. But it can actually push the jamb inward, making them impossible to open. Avoid this by using minimal expanding foam. It’s formulated to fill the space around windows and doors without excess expansion. Look for cans labeled for use on windows and doors. Another good idea is to fill the space with two layers. Push the applicator tip all the way to the back of the space and move it quickly along as you pull the trigger. Let this first layer expand and cure. Then add another if necessary. Did you know spray foam can even be used for concrete repair?

6. Set the Can Wherever

A problem with expanding foam is that sometimes it expands when you don’t want it to, like when you’re done foaming and set the can down. One way to avoid this is to keep a cardboard box handy and always set the foam can in the box to catch the drips and to prevent a big mess.

7. Wipe Away the Foam Mess Immediately

When foam goes where you don’t want it, you’ll be tempted to wipe it up. DON’T (With the exception of eyes and skin)! You’ll only spread the goo and make the mess worse. Instead, let it harden completely and then scrape or sand it off. A serrated knife with a flexible blade is perfect for cutting off excess foam.

We all know spray foam is an insulation powerhouse. Here are some genius uses for this useful product that you may not have considered. Check out these 12 brilliant uses for spray foam that will blow your mind.

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