Do you have a big insulation job coming up? Maybe you’ve just put up a shed, or you’re finally finishing the basement, or maybe you’re building a whole house. Either way, you want to insulate that space, but what’s the best way to do it?
It is possible to rent a spray foam insulation machine, though availability in certain areas may limit the timeframe where it is available for use. Unless doing a large, one-time job, it may be better to hire a contractor or buy a kit to install spray foam insulation instead of renting a machine.
Let’s look at the options you have for your insulations job, as well as the strengths and weaknesses of each. Then you should be able to make a decision based on the size and positioning of your job.
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Renting Out a Machine
When you have a really big job to do, and you don’t foresee needing to do any more insulating for a while, renting might be a good option for you. Renting a rig or kit gives you access to the tools you need for just the time you need it, and the company you rent it from will often offer some training alongside the rental so you’re sure you know what you’re doing.
Of course, this requires that there is a rental service near enough to where you’re doing your project so that you can feasibly get the machine there and back. It wouldn’t hurt to call your local hardware store and ask them if they rent, but in the event that they don’t, you’ll likely have to find a service online.
Master Pack offers 2-day on-site training in all contiguous USA states, meaning that you should be able to rent from them no matter which state you live in (aside from Alaska and Hawaii), though living in a larger state might mean that you’re farther away from a location than you otherwise might be.
It’s unclear how far either of these companies will range from their centers, though Spray Foam Solutions does ask for a ZIP code in their rental contact form, suggesting that they’ll at least reach outside their own ZIP code.
It’s worth noting that renting a rig or kit usually requires you to have a large area in need of insulation: at least 4,000 board, though the most cost-effective application will be for 15,000 board and above. In the latter case, you can save up to 40% more than if you hired a contractor.
Hiring a Contractor
But maybe your job is smaller than that, or maybe you have more important things to do with your time. In either case, it may be in your better interest to hire a professional contractor.
Contractors typically charge a minimum of $500 to $700, for reference to compare to rentals or kits you find to do it yourself. The final quote will depend on either the area insulated or the time they spent doing the job.
This may surprise you to read, but depending on the size of the jobs, hiring a contractor can actually be cheaper than doing it yourself. On top of that, these are professionals who already know the ins and outs of what they’re doing, so getting them to do it could mean one or two fewer headaches for you.
Additionally, contractors already have the equipment they need. They can do any size job, and they’re equipped to do it in any weather. They also have all the safety gear necessary to do the job safely.
Doing it yourself would mean making sure all the conditions are good before starting: no wet surfaces where the insulation needs to go, and keeping the entire rig or kit above 65°F at all times. Professional contractors, on the other hand, have their tanks heated to keep them running the right way throughout the job, even in cold weather.
Speaking of their heated tanks, contractors are limited by how far they can get away from their trucks. If your insulating job includes a spot that could be hard for them to reach, they may not be physically able to reach it.
Buying a Kit
In the case of small, hard-to-reach jobs, buying a kit might be the way to go. Kits are also helpful to have when you have more than one job to do, or if you’ll be doing more insulation in the future.
Kits can go for anywhere between $400 and $800, so depending on the kit you find, it’ll be cheaper for a smaller job that you don’t want to pay upwards of $500 for a contractor to do once, as you can use the kit again later, or possibly find someone to buy it from you (though you may have a hard time finding a buyer).
You should be able to find a spray foam insulating kit at your local hardware store, or online.
Though a smaller “200” board foot kit might be more expensive, larger kits have two heavy tanks that you have to lug around, and since you have to install a new tip every time you stop spraying for more than 30 seconds, that can be hard to handle if you’re doing the job by yourself. If it’s a bigger job and you need a bigger kit, recruit a friend to help you out.
Using a Kit
If you do choose to get a kit, make sure before you do the job that the temperatures you’ll be working under are above 65°F, as that’s the minimum temperature at which the equipment will work.
Don’t spray wet surfaces, as the insulation won’t stick. You can use a moisture meter to determine whether the surfaces are good to spray.
Spray the lifts first to avoid bulging: lifts should never be more than 2 inches thick. You can test depth by poking it with a coat hanger.
Make a plan of action so that you don’t waste any time wondering what to do after you’ve started so that you can avoid installing so many new tips. When you do install new tips, make sure to lubricate the gun.
Wear protective gear to protect your eyes, respiration, and skin. Wear gloves and tape them to the sleeves of a protective suit, as well as your worst shoes, as this can get chemically messy. (Source)
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