Can You Use Wood Glue to Bond Foam to Foam?

Foam is a finicky substance that does not respond to all types of glue. And your all-purpose adhesive solution, the hot glue gun, will melt foam. Will wood glue work?

Answer

Yes, wood glue can be used as an adhesive for extruded polystyrene foam. But the jury is out as to whether it can be used to glue foam edge-to-edge.

Results

Wood Glue and Foam

Wood glue might be the last type of glue you would use on insulation foam. Wood, foam–they don’t really seem to go together. Yet Elmer’s White Glue is used by hobbyists to glue styrofoam. How different can this be?

For the test, I used Owens-Corning Foamular. It is a “closed cell, moisture-resistant rigid foam board,” according to the Foamular site. Nowhere in the Foamular literature does it say or even imply that Foamular has fiberglass in it. Yet I had such a strong mental association with the Owens-Corning trademarked pink color, along with the Pink Panther mascot, that I assumed there had to be fiberglass.

Face to Face Is Successful

I bonded Owens-Corning Foamular 150 to itself when constructing a bulkhead around some pipes.

That first test worked fantastically well, holding securely. The glue did not damage the foam.

I do not know how long it took to dry, because I used my Zip-Wall Dust Barrier poles as a form of clamp to push the foam piece together, and kept them in place close to 24 hours. I did check out one of my bonds after about 1.5 hours, and the bond appeared to be tight. But that also could have been the vacuum effect of having two flats pieces of material with a liquid substance between them.

Edge to Edge: Jury Is Out

Zip Wall Clamping Foam

Will Foamular’s smooth facing bond better, worse, or the same as the porous edges of two pieces that have been snapped apart?

Foamular has partial incisions that allow it to snap apart without using cutting tools. The edges are fairly ragged, but they will fit tightly together, much like puzzle pieces.

After 4 hours, I released the Zip Wall poles and the Foamular sections came apart. My conclusion isn’t so much that the wood glue failed; it’s that my test didn’t run long enough.

In the first test, the glue was spread out ultra thinly by the pressure of the two flat pieces. But in the second test, the glue was thicker and (I assume) needed more time to dry.

I will try this test again.

 

 

 

Types of Insulation

Not all insulation is the same.  From traditional “blanket-type” fiberglass batting to sprayed-in foam, you have many insulation choices, and our guide here should help you make the best choice:

Type Insulation Materials Where Applicable Installation Method(s) Advantages
Blanket: batts and rolls Fiberglass
Mineral (rock or slag) wool
Plastic fibers
Natural fibers
Unfinished walls, including foundation walls, and floors and ceilings. Fitted between studs, joists, and beams. Do-it-yourself.
Suited for standard stud and joist spacing, which is relatively free from obstructions.
Concrete block insulation Foam beads or liquid foam:

  • Polystyrene
  • Polyisocyanurate or polyiso
  • Polyurethane

Vermiculite or perlite pellets

Unfinished walls, including foundation walls, for new construction or major renovations. Involves masonry skills. Autoclaved aerated concrete and autoclaved cellular concrete masonry units have 10 times the insulating value of conventional concrete.
Foam board or rigid foam Polystyrene
Polyisocyanurate or polyiso
Polyurethane
Unfinished walls, including foundation walls;
floors and ceilings;
unvented low-slope roofs.
Interior applications: must be covered with 1/2-inch gypsum board or other building-code approved material for fire safety.

Exterior applications: must be covered with weatherproof facing.

High insulating value for relatively little thickness.

Can block thermal short circuits when installed continuously over frames or joists.

Insulating concrete forms (ICFs) Foam boards or foam blocks Unfinished walls, including foundation walls, for new construction. Installed as part of the building structure. Insulation is literally built into the home’s walls, creating high thermal resistance.
Loose-fill Cellulose
Fiberglass
Mineral (rock or slag) wool
Enclosed existing wall or open new wall cavities;
unfinished attic floors;
hard-to-reach places.
Blown into place using special equipment; sometimes poured in. Good for adding insulation to existing finished areas, irregularly shaped areas, and around obstructions.
Reflective system Foil-faced kraft paper, plastic film, polyethylene bubbles, or cardboard Unfinished walls, ceilings, and floors. Foils, films, or papers: fitted between wood-frame studs, joists, and beams Do-it-yourself.

All suitable for framing at standard spacing. Bubble-form suitable if framing is irregular or if obstructions are present.

Most effective at preventing downward heat flow; however, effectiveness depends on spacing.

Rigid fibrous or fiber insulation Fiberglass
Mineral (rock or slag) wool
Ducts in unconditioned spaces and other places requiring insulation that can withstand high temperatures. HVAC contractors fabricate the insulation into ducts either at their shops or at the job sites. Can withstand high temperatures.
Sprayed foam and foamed-in-place Cementitious
Phenolic
Polyisocyanurate
Polyurethane
Enclosed existing wall or open new wall cavities;
unfinished attic floors.
Applied using small spray containers or in larger quantities as a pressure sprayed (foamed-in-place) product. Good for adding insulation to existing finished areas, irregularly shaped areas, and around obstructions.
Structural insulated panels (SIPs) Foam board or liquid foam insulation core
Straw core insulation
Unfinished walls, ceilings, floors, and roofs for new construction. Builders connect them together to construct a house. SIP-built houses provide superior and uniform insulation compared to more traditional construction methods; they also take less time to build.

–Content courtesy U.S. Department of Energy

Home Insulation R Values

Whether you live in Bangor, Maine, or Bakersfield, California, your home will be more comfortable and energy efficient with the right insulation. Insulation helps reduce the costs of heating and cooling your home. Here’s how: Heat travels. In the winter, heat flows out; in the summer, heats flow in.

Did you know that a properly insulated home reduces heat flow, using less energy in the winter for heating and less energy in the summer for cooling?

That could mean money in your pocket. To help you get the most for your insulation dollar, the Federal Trade Commission offers answers to some basic questions about home insulation.

Q. What’s the first thing I should look for when buying insulation?

Look for the “R-value.” “R” means resistance to heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulation power. The R-value must be disclosed for most insulation products. (Pipe and duct insulation are the exceptions, although duct wrap is covered.) For instance, if you buy loose-fill insulation with an R-value of 38 from Company A, it will have the same insulating power as loose-fill insulation with an R-value of 38 from Company B. You also can compare the R-value of one type of insulation to another, such as loose-fill to blanket.

Q. How do I know how much insulation R-value my home needs?

Several factors affect the R-value your home needs:

* Where you live — You’ll need a higher R-value if you live in the Northeast than if you live in Southern California.

* How your home is built — For example is it a single-level or multi-level structure? Do you have cathedral ceilings? Is there a basement or is your home built on a slab?

* How you heat and cool your home — Do you have a furnace, a central air conditioner, or a heat pump?

Q. Should I use the same R-value of insulation throughout my home?

It’s more efficient to use insulation with higher R-values in the attic and in rooms with cathedral ceilings than in wood frame walls and basements or crawl spaces with walls.

For help in determining what R-values your home needs, contact:

The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Network is a clearinghouse of energy-efficiency information. Find it online at www.eren.doe.gov; call toll-free, 1-800-DOE-EREC (1-800-363-3732) (TDD: 1-800-273-2957); or write to U.S. Department of Energy B EREC, PO Box 3048, Merrifield, VA 22116.

Your state energy office, local building department, or your gas or electric company. They can tell you how to conduct an energy audit to help detect waste and gauge the efficiency of your current heating system. Your utility company may offer free or low-cost energy audits, or you can conduct your own. DOE offers instructions at www.homeenergysaver.lbl.gov.

Your local home improvement store (or its website) may have information to help you calculate your insulation needs.

Q. How do I know what R-value I’m getting?

The FTC is responsible for enforcing the R-value Rule. The Rule ensures that you get information about the R-value of your insulation before you buy it, have it installed, or buy a new home. Manufacturers must label their packages of insulation; installers and retailers must provide fact sheets; and new home sellers must include this information in sales contracts.

Q. What should I do if I don’t get information about the R-value from the manufacturer, retailer, installer or new home seller?

Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the online complaint form at ftc.gov; call toll-free: 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357); or write: Federal Trade Commission, Consumer Response Center, 600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20580.

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit www.ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters Internet, telemarketing, identity theft, and other fraud-related complaints into Consumer Sentinel, a secure, online database available to hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.

–Content courtesy of Federal Trade Commission