November is here and it’s getting cold in Michigan. Many Michiganders are waking up to frost on the ground and …on their windows. Burr! Upon doing some research, you may learn that you can install spray foam insulation in your crawlspace or attic to quickly help with the cold. So, you do a quick Google search to find a “spray foam contractor near me.” The next step is to make a call to your local spray foam contractor. Now that you’ve made it this far, let’s talk about what you can expect in the process of getting spray foam installed in your home.
In order to be prepared for your phone call, you should take measurements of the walls (or ceiling) you want to have insulated. The spray foam contractor is going to ask you about the job you’re wanting to do. He wants to know the
general scope of your project. And you want to start off the conversation as the person with the power a.k.a. the
person with the money and not to be caught off guard sounding like Mugsy from the Looney Tunes “uh, I dunno boss,” so have those measurements ready. This should include basic measurements. For example, in an attic, you should measure along the floor the “length” and “width” of the attic, and the height of the ceiling (floor to ceiling). In a basement, you can measure the same thing but don’t worry about having an exact measurement of the floor to ceiling if there’s a dirt floor. In that situation, your spray foam contractor most likely won’t be spraying foam past the bond which is the space between the basement ceiling and the ground level outside. But it’s good to have a general idea of what the height of the basement is.
There are cases where you may not want to or be able to take the measurements yourself. This could be because of a physical or knowledge limitation. For example, it’s great to have spray foam in crawlspaces, but you don’t want to get in and take the measurements yourself. The good news is that you don’t have to! You can give a rough length measurement of the crawlspace by measuring the floor from the room above the crawlspace within your home. Or simply ask the spray foam contractor to measure it himself. If he is a quality salesman, he will work with you on getting those numbers figured out. In some cases, there will be a small fee charged for the in-person estimate.
Tip: ask what kind of preparation or cleanup is required/expected for your job and what part of it you can do yourself to save money.
2. Bid Price
“Lets talk options,” and “Let’s talk pricing.” Your contractor will go through the best practices he or she recommends for the project you have in mind. Typically, they’ll tell you about the premium product they recommend first, because the insulation you choose should last the longest and be the most effective. You might be thinking, “I thought spray foam insulation was the premium insulation,” and you’re right, it is. Nothing tops the quality and effectiveness of spray foam insulation. However, there is a difference in thickness of foam. Typically, you could need anywhere from 2-6inches of spray foam for homes and barns. More insulation costs more money. So that’s what your contractor is going to talk to you about. What is the best practice for your desired project and how can you get it done at a cost you can afford.
3. Confirmation and Down Payment
Once you’ve settled on an insulation system that meets your needs, your contractor will ask you to sign a contract agreeing to the service outline and a down payment for the job. Some contractors request up to 50% of the total
cost as a down payment, which may seem high. The reason for this is that material costs have increased a lot since 2020 during the Covid shutdowns, and contractors have been scared into keeping less and less material on hand because of that increase. So, the down payment is to make sure they have the money to buy the materials they need to complete your project, as well as protect themselves from having clients back out, leaving them to store expensive materials.
The Service Agreement is meant to protect both the client and the contractor involved so that no one loses money, and the job gets completed as intended.
Ok, you’ve signed the construction/service agreement and you’ve sent the contractor a down payment. What’s next? Now you should get a call to schedule your job. A good spray foam contractor will communicate what the expectations are with the schedule very clearly with you. At a minimum, he should let you know if you’re to expect them in 2-3 days or 2-3 months. This is very important for you because you most likely have a schedule to keep. If you’re building something new which is getting spray foamed, you’ll need to keep to the schedule of the other builders working on the job. And if you’re having an existing building spray foamed, you’ll likely have your own prep to do ahead of time.
What preparation will you be expected to do? This will depend slightly on what your agreement is with your spray foam contractor, but let’s go through a few examples so you have an idea. First, if your project is in your home, your “prep” may be taking time off to be present or to unlock the door for the contractor to come in. Or maybe you want to spray foam a pole barn but it’s currently full of equipment and projects. Your “prep” in this case will be emptying the barn or making the walls or ceiling accessible. If you are unable to remove something from the space, talk to your foam guy about who is responsible for covering that item up properly (you or him).
Important Note: During the application of Spray Foam Insulation there is something called Overspray. Overspray occurs when tiny foam particles float in the air and don’t hit the targeted location. Wherever they land, they will expand and stick. So, anything in the project area is at risk of overspray and should be completely covered with tape and plastic. This is why spray foam contractors wear full body protection during application – to keep their lungs, skin, hair, and clothing protected from overspray.
During the spray foam application process, you’ll be asked to stay out of the project area. Spray foam is created by a reaction of harsh chemicals and should not be inhaled, which is why the applicators have to be in full protection gear including fresh air respirators and masks. They will not be expecting to supply you with one, so it’s best that you simply stand back. The good news is that once the foam is cured, you can walk in to see the results. This happens within a few minutes but if the room is enclosed, you may need to wait a few hours for the fumes to air out.
7. Clean Up
One thing about spray foam… is its MESSY. From the overspray we talked about earlier in this article, to the trimmings and the protective plastic, there’s usually a lot to clean up. When it comes to the clean-up, this is something you should ask about during the bidding process. Who is responsible for cleaning up? You can save yourself some money by doing it yourself, but you may not want to. The clean-up also depends on the details of the job. If you’re having the wall cavities done flush, meaning around 3.5 inches with it perfectly trimmed flat after application so that the drywall will sit flush to the foam and the framing stud, that’s going to be messy. The foam contractor will spray foam to fill the entire wall cavity and then go back through and trim the extra foam that sticks out with either knives or a grinder. After, they will typically sweep or vacuum up the trimmings that fall to the ground. This is why it’s important to clarify who is responsible for the clean-up. You don’t want to get left doing that if you originally thought it was included in your bid price. Alternatively, if you’re insulating that empty pole barn that won’t have much, if any, foam trimmed, you might not mind cleaning up the plastic that covered your tractor afterwards. So, think about your project and how much time you want to commit to the clean-up so you can talk to your foam contractor about it.
8. Walk Through
Once the application is complete, a good foam contractor will walk you through the project before he leaves. This is your perfect (and possibly only) opportunity to make adjustments to the foam. You should look for spots that look shallow and ask for your foam guy to measure it. You should also check for spots that may have been missed. This step is crucial, because some contractors have written in the service agreement that you signed that you only have 48hrs to point out mistakes or to have the crew make corrections to the foam. The reason for this is that too many people forget about their project and wait several weeks to make a claim. It’s difficult to run a business that way and it’s not fair or respectable to the contractor’s time to do this. On the flip side, an outstanding contractor will do everything they can to provide you with the quality service you paid for. Respect goes both ways, so if you want the best out of your contactor, be sure to respect their work and make your requests while everything is freshly done. That way there won’t be any “you promised,” and “I thought you were going to…,” that are weeks or months old when no one can really remember exact conversations anymore.
The job is done! Everything looks great, it’s cleaned up and you’ve had your questions answered. Now you get to look forward to receiving that hefty invoice. But you were prepared, and you know how you’re going to send the payment, either electronically or by mail, or maybe you’ve already set up payments on your payment plan. Payment plans are common now in the industry, so be sure to ask about that if you need to.
That’s it! You’re happy, you’re warm, and you feel so so so good about putting the highest quality insulation on your walls or ceiling. In this day and age, businesses thrive off of good reviews from satisfied customers. Giving your review will help other customers like you know if they can rely on and trust the spray foam contractor you hired. Plus, it helps small businesses owners continue to do what they’re good at. Check out some of the reviews we’ve received!
Well, there you have it. A full rundown of 10 things to expect from your spray foam contractor. Now that you’re prepared, give us a call so we can be your high quality foam guys to bring you high quality spray foam insulation.