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Did we spray better wall foam 35 -40 years ago? Post New Topic | Post Reply

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Posted: May 03, 2012 08:37 AM
Did we spray better wall foam 35 -40 years ago?
I have been holding my tongue for a few years now waiting to find some really good craftsman who spray foam as good as the folks I worked with in the 70s. Back then we could spray a flat wall with 5 inches of foam to a 1/4" tolerance and between stud walls and ceiling to a 1/2 tolerance. We would go years without a call back because of shrinking foam or odor issues This is using equipment that had horrible temperature control and spray guns that would require constant maintenance.

I have visited a few contractors who have applicators who fit that high standard of excellence, but all too often, the jobs I see today show pretty sloppy technique and poor quality control.

I can attribute this to the decreased importance of uniformity of foam application because the foam does not need to be covered with plaster as much as our foam was in the 60s and 70s (which required a tolerance no greater than 1/4") and to the huge increase of contractors in the marketplace that has led to inadequate applicator spray technique training.

I am working hard to help the spray foam industry include training that shows a new applicator how to spray foam with fewer bumps, humps and greater uniformity. Not only would this look better, it would save a lot of material/money and reduce the potential for instability of the foam.

Please join in this crusade. Let's make our jobs look better than they did 40 years ago.

Now I am off my soapbox, just wanted to get it off my chest

I have over 10 years of experience specifying and installing open and closed cell spray foam. I've sold my business but I'm still selling for the new owners and consulting on large and custom specific jobs. 

I've expanded my knowledge into t

Posted: May 03, 2012 09:20 AM
I agree with you Mason! The jobs did look better back then, but back then we were also permeitted to use all of the harmful blowing agents which helped us in aplying it much smoother at much more varying temperatures. So, how has the EPA helped us in the past years other than backed up into a corner and come out spraying bumpy foam, instead of smooth foam!
Posted: May 03, 2012 01:03 PM
Thanks for the input Jim, But I have to disagree with the foam being easier to spray back then. I think the foam today has much better consistency of reaction time, surface texture and reliability than the foam we sprayed back then. It makes sense too because the manufacture's quality control is much better with computerized blending and storage control.

Back then, we had widely varying foam systems that you had to get used to. Plus depending on the manufacturer you might have to adjust the temperature and pressure from batch to batch.

Even with the best foam systems we had to station a person at the rig who constantly had to adjust the hose heat to control temperature at the gun. The sprayer would give hand signals to the rig man who would dial it up or down.

I have a lot of reasons for the difference in spray techniques beyond the ones mentioned but blowing agent changes is not one of them.

For example, the old D gun is a better gun for spraying in tight corners smoothly than the spray guns used today. It has an oval shape that fits into the stud better and is easier to grow the foam at a uniform rate.

Another factor; most contractors in the 60s & 70s had 4-10 sprayers who ran the rigs and trained their helpers to spray. It was very competitive and you were not allowed to spray an important job until you could demonstrate your spray technique proficiency.

Since we were forced to have a job with square corners and 1/4" tolerance, if you couldn't spray smooth and uniform foam, you had to trim it. Trimming takes twice as long as spraying, so it makes sense to try to make it smoother.

Today; many contractors have only 1 or 2 sprayers who were not well trained to begin with and do not know there is the possibility of spraying better foam.

I will be doing an article on this topic and how we can spray better using some of the techniques and procedures used in the past.

Look for it soon.
Wade LeCompte
Posted: May 03, 2012 07:55 PM
Here's my take. I started in the FOAM buisness in 1980,Gusmer FF with a D-Gun. Roofing was the market we were looking to introduce to the South Louisiana area. There were a few SPF roofs in the area, but not many. So I learned to spray foam on Residential homes in my area. The job had to be smooth or you would not get another one. Most of our work was by "word of mouth" of how nice it looked and how much money the homeowners saved on their utility bill. I haved also sprayed numerous Freezers, Coolers, and Shrimping Vessels in my career. All sprayed with a D-Gun. The D-Gun was a finicky gun to work with, you had to constantly trigger it so it would not "Stick" on you, but it sprayed foam smooth. You had about a 10 second window, if you didn't trigger it, it stuck. Then you had to manually close the valves, open the back of the gun and pop the valving rod back through the chamber. I learned to put up with this for the sake of a smooth finish. I was well known in the industry for my 'Smooth and Even" work. Then came the "Phase Out" of the old blowing agent to the New and Better. I noticed a difference in my spraying. I found the new foams harder to process and spray. I up-graded a couple of years before the change to an FF-1600 so that helped out some, but I was having trouble keeping the D-Gun from sticking. Next was something that really surprised me, the Wave of New Foamers in the industry. The price of foam had doubled because of the New and Better and I was wanting to get out of the business. All the New Foamers were ruining the market, cutting prices, under bidding jobs then complaining to Foam Manufacturers and Supliers because they were not getting the stated board feet per kit. So all the foam that I would recieve was a hard to spray, rough looking winter grade foam.I figuired they did this so as not to lose coverage out of a kit of foam due to age,temps,or spraying overhead. This was the down fall of the D-Gun, it would just stick to much to be able to continue using. I quit the buisness in 2005 and went to work in the Offshore Oil Industry working 7and7. Before the end of 2005 I started recieving phone calls about spraying jobs to straighten out what the New Foamers had botched or to finished jobs they were run off of because they looked horrible. I re-entered the business part time, spraying on my days off. I purchased a Probler P-2 spray gun, which was a lot less aggravating to work with but I can not even come close to spraying like I did with the Old Foam and the D-Gun. I'm still spraying a few jobs now and then, fighting with the new foams and new gun trying to keep it smooth but it sure is hard to do. Man I miss the Good Ole Days.
mark moyer
Posted: May 06, 2012 07:56 AM
bless you mason,,,
as long as we have the supply side saturateing the market with rigs and fluids the quality will continue to suffer,,
but this will only lead to the success of the applicators whom subscribe to proper appliation techniques and protocols...
my phone is ringing and the newbees are goin out of buisness double-four-time round here..only to be bought up by the next round of possers,,,
but how are we gonna stop the BIG boyz whom do the itty bitty skim coats and cover it as fast as it goes on,,,bad application by nature of the physics,,bad appliation by nature of the application,,,and gone in 60 seconds...
but the customer thinks they have a "foam home"...and they see no real performance boost down the road,,,
jim,,good to see you postin again :)
Posted: May 07, 2012 10:38 AM
Dude is right. We keep it within about .5in but can get closer on a good day. Really that is a lot less of an issue than the big companies all over here pushing the flash and crap bull. I have gotten to the point of finding out the brand a couple spray and dropping a dime to the manufactures about it. When I am asked to look at a home because they say it was a good job and the home owner wants a second opinion, I don't make a penny. What I do get is the fun of explaining basic science on why the foam is sweating in 20 degree weather and building moisture in their wall so that is why they get to have drywall that looks like a model of the ocean during a storm.

Of course what is the solution? Rip the crap out and do it RIGHT but the costs might as well be a new house as far as they look. You can either rip out the drywall or rip off the siding and take out the fiberboard under with foam applied from outside in then. Of couse by the time they blow the money on the tear out, then they have to go with the cheap stuff to afford to fix the crap work. Then those people run around telling everyone foam is expensice crap and not to use it.

So those guys run with the money, ruin the name of the product, screw people over and destroy business for the rest of us. Me, I am tired of losing bids to that crap because some slick sales guy lies his ever living ass off to people to get a quick sale breaking even on foam and making the profit with the fiberglass part and then heairng the nighnares later on from people. Instead of worrying about foam not being flat enough you can paint it and call it a wall, how about pushing for a ban on flash and batt crap that is destroying the industry? So far there is only ONE other foamer in my area out of about 10 that does not push that crap system and they are bending us all over with no lube doing that BS.

After that, worry about a better insulating value system than the R-value one since I will put 3in of closed cell up against and R-30 of fibeglass any day and still out perform it by a huge margin. Get a real world insulating value that takes in air movement, moisture and real differences between sides instead.

Crap sprayers will go under on their own unless they work to improve so they are a lot less of an issue than crap systems giving foam a bad name or a crap insulating rating system that decieves people.
Craig Gifford
Posted: May 08, 2012 10:21 AM
Some really great responses here...I feel a big part of the problem is what is being charged per bd ft.....I see so many bids at <= $1.00 a bd ft...at that price one has to work fast & put on as much faom as possible in one day to make $$!
I am never that low....when I win or get a job it is priced to achieve a good professionsal end product! That is hard to do at or below $1.00 bd ft. I have been spraying over 6 years & have always been a bug on visually appealing coverage.
I have since hired/trained 2 good (one very good) applicators that I tried to instill the same values (I now manage & sell). I had one employee (hard worker) that used to spray when I couldn't...he used to say as it doesn't matter what it looks like as long as it's done (he no longer sprays for me & does other chores)!
It many times simply boils down to price...the right price allows for good training & good application!
Posted: May 09, 2012 07:59 AM
Envelopeman hit on a pet peeve of mine. Many contractors feel they make more money by spraying the job quicker, while in reality the amount of foam they waste by spraying it with a lack of uniformity costs them a considerable amount of material.

In my article, Calculating Foam Yield, I show how being able to spray within a 1/2 tolerance (high and low) can save 20% on your material costs. With foam at around $2 a lb, that by itself can be your profit for the year.

Take your time, learn how to spray smooth foam and watch your profits grow. If you need help with spray technique, give me a call. I can typically teach an average applicator to spray smooth foam in a half a day. Of course, there are some folks who can never spray good foam. Make them helpers or sales persons.
Craig Gifford
Posted: May 11, 2012 07:45 PM
OK....favorite or best mixing chamber for spraying uniform wall foam...my personal favorite is: the
AW3939 with the Fusion AP...puts out a nice fairly wide pattern with very good control..while production is decent as well.
In my opinion going bigger then this creates a lot more waste!
mark moyer
Posted: May 12, 2012 06:25 AM
woody can lay out open cell foam in a 2x6 sidewall with the 60/60 chamber and stop it at 5" no problem...we sell @ 5" +/-1" which covers our booty and hits the required rvalue...
closed cell he easily hits to within 1/2" as well
it is experience and stroke and setup of machine,,,,
ryan was a bit more messy on the studs with the big chambers,,but profile was smooth as momma's booty,,you can do it with practice...
joe,,he's gettin there...
all can shoot open cell overhead and lay it out like closed cell sidewalls(better actually) i see from the newbee hillbillies round here...
Posted: May 12, 2012 11:30 AM
Case in point: Just inspected a job yesterday, spec called for 4.5 inches to the underside of the attic. Foam was rough and thickness ranged from 4 to 7 inches with an average of 5.5 -6 inches. Plus some of the foam was off-ratio (B-rich). The contractor not only gave too much foam but has to remove quite a lot of it. No profit on this job, probably went in the hole.

But to the contractor's credit, he is making it right.
mark moyer
Posted: May 13, 2012 05:56 AM
in your opinion,,,
mark moyer
Posted: May 16, 2012 06:44 PM
We got the message
I heard it on the airwaves
The politicians
Are now dj's
The broadcast was spreading
Station to station
Like an infection
Across the nation
Though you know you can't stop it
When they start to play
You're gonna get out the way

The politics of dancing
The politics of ooh feeling good
The politics of moving, aha
Is this message's understood

The politics of dancing
The politics of ooh feeling good
The politics of moving, aha
Is this message's understood

We're under pressure
Yes we're counting on you
Like what you say
Is what you do
It's in the papers
It's on your tv news
Oh, the application
Is just a point of view
Well you know you can't stop it
When they start to play
You're gonna get out the way

The politics of dancing
The politics of ooh feeling good
The politics of moving, aha
Is this message's understood


The politics of dancing
The politics of ooh feeling good
The politics of moving, aha
Is this message's understood

The politics of dancing
The politics of ooh feeling good
The politics of moving, aha
Is this message's understood

....burma shave,,,

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