Open Cell vs Closed Cell Foam: Difference and Comparison

Insulation is very important if anyone wants to build an object inside the building. Insulation that is used in buildings is basically for thermal use, i.e. thermal insulation. Besides that, there are other insulation as well, like fire insulation, acoustic insulation, impact insulation etc.

Insulation is very important both for the environment as well as for economic purposes. Two types of foams are used for insulation, i.e. open-cell and closed-cell foam.

Key Takeaways

  1. Open-cell foam features interconnected cells, allowing air and moisture to pass through, while closed-cell foam has sealed cells, providing greater insulation.
  2. Open-cell foam is less dense and offers better sound absorption, while the closed-cell foam is denser and offers higher strength and insulation.
  3. Closed-cell foam is more resistant to water and moisture, making it suitable for outdoor applications, while the open-cell foam is better for indoor use.

Open Cell Foam vs Closed Cell Foam

Open-cell foam is a type of foam with interconnected pores or voids throughout the material, which allows air and moisture to pass through easily. Closed-cell foam has sealed or closed pores throughout the material, which makes it much denser and more rigid than open-cell foam.

Open Cell Foam vs Closed Cell Foam

Open-cell foam has a wider application, and majorly it is used in medical packaging, electronics, furniture upholstery, seat cushions, power equipment etc., for shock absorption, insulation and sound absorption. The most common foam, which has open-cell in it, is polyurethane foam.

This foam is considered one of the strongest open-cell forms because of its resistance power with oxygen. They are very lightweight and are less dense, and soft and spongy in looks.

Closed-cell foam is a very strong, dense material that is closely knit together. They are very flexible for the plastic rubber material. Closed-cell foam cells are so close that they are like a bubble or like balloons trapped together, but they are not connected.

Their density is three times more than the open cell, which is about 1.75 pounds per cubic foot or more. It can expand up to 1” in thickness as its R-value is very much higher in comparison with open-cell foam.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonOpen Cell FoamClosed Cell Foam
CompositionLightDense
Blowing agentWaterChemical
ExpansionHighMinimal
R-valueLowerHigher
AdvantagesHigher moisture absorption and interconnectivity.Higher cushioning
DisadvantagesWeaker in structure and can breakdown materialsHas undesirable chemicals.

What is Open Cell Foam?

The open-cell foam consists of cells that are not encapsulated, i.e. not closed. So because of it, it becomes a very much soft and flexible material. The density of the open-cell foam is very much less in comparison with closed-cell foam, i.e. .5 pounds per cubic foot.

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Its R-value is very much limited, and so because of that, its usefulness as insulation becomes lower. But it can expand three times in thickness, and its expansion is higher than closed-cell foam.

Open-cell foam’s benefit is that because of its larger expansion, it can move to areas that are hard to reach in a home. It is considered very good for soundproofing and absorption as it can fill every area between studs.

They are very much affordable in comparison with closed-cell foam. Open-cell foam cannot be used in the house or in places where there is extreme weather condition.

It is not suited for it. Polyurethane foam sheets are the best example of it because of their sponge-like appearance and soft cushioning.

Because open-cell foam is porous in nature, they are not resistant to water vapours. It is very durable, which means that it will not shrink, break or diminish. Open-cell foam doesn’t have any ozone-depleting gases and doesn’t contain any volatile compounds.

It has a lot of uses like low-cost furniture upholstery, Soundproofing for buildings, Foam protective packaging, Vapor, moisture and air permeable required application and Interior design projects.

What is Closed Cell Foam?

Closed-cell foams are completely encapsulated and compressed together. It is so much compressed that even moisture and air can’t pass through it. It is very much dense, strong and more rigid than open-cell foam.

It has three times more density than an open cell, i.e. 1.75 pounds per cubic foot. Its R-value is very much higher, i.e. 6 to 7 per inch, which makes its rating higher and more convenient as it can keep the heat in and outside the structure.

Closed-cell foam has a minimal expansion rate, i.e. 1” thickness when water is sprayed. It has a lot of benefits like it is best for robust insulation where space is limited. Their closed-cell foam can reach its maximum capacity, i.e. 2x and become rigid and stronger.

Because of its rigidity, closed-cell foam is successful in maintaining the structural integrity of the building. It also acts as a vapour barrier, so very little chance is there that water and moisture can penetrate through it.

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It also protects buildings and houses from water damage. Closed-cell foam can be made up of many materials ranging between polyethene, polystyrene, EVA, rubber to polypropylene etc.

It is extremely reliable for any kind of environment, whether exterior or interior. It is best for providing sound and heat insulation. It has excellent resistive nature towards leakage. They have very popular uses like cushioning, padding, insulation, and gaskets.

closed cell foam

Main Differences Between Open Cell and Closed Cell Foam

  1. Open Cell foam has a very light composition. It is soft and durable. Closed-cell foam has a very dense composition which makes it strong and rigid.
  2. The blowing agent of open-cell foam is water. The blowing agent for closed-cell foam is chemicals.
  3. The expansion rate of Open cell foam is three times higher than closed-cell foam. The expansion rate of Closed-cell foam is very minimal.
  4. The R-value of open-cell foam is lower, i.e. 3.5 per inch, which limits its insulation. The R-value of closed-cell foam is higher, i.e. 6 to 7 per inch.
  5. The advantages of open-cell foam are that it has higher moisture absorption and interconnectivity. The advantage of closed-cell foam is that it has higher cushioning.
  6. The disadvantage of open-cell foam is that it has a weaker structure and can break down materials. The disadvantage of closed-cell foam is that it has undesirable chemicals.
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References
  1. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S135964549900097X
  2. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11661-018-4867-x

Last Updated : 11 August, 2023

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18 thoughts on “Open Cell vs Closed Cell Foam: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The section on ‘What is Open Cell Foam?’ provides a clear description of the characteristics and applications of open-cell foam insulation. It’s a valuable source of knowledge for professionals in the construction industry.

    Reply
  2. This in-depth analysis of open-cell and closed-cell foam insulation is an excellent resource for architects, builders, and homeowners who are looking to enhance the energy efficiency and environmental sustainability of structures.

    Reply
  3. The detailed comparison of open-cell and closed-cell foam insulation in terms of their composition, blowing agents, and advantages offers a comprehensive understanding of their respective properties and suitability for various purposes.

    Reply
    • I agree. The article effectively explains the differences in the blowing agents and expansion rates of open-cell and closed-cell foam insulation, shedding light on their distinct characteristics.

      Reply
  4. The comparison table is particularly helpful for understanding the differences between open-cell and closed-cell foam insulation. It’s a well-organized article that conveys the information clearly.

    Reply
    • I found the section on ‘What is Closed Cell Foam?’ very informative. It clearly explains the properties and advantages of using closed-cell foam in different applications.

      Reply
  5. This article provides detailed information about the different types of insulation and their properties. It is a comprehensive guide for anyone looking to understand the importance of insulation in construction and building design.

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    • I couldn’t agree more! The author has done a great job explaining the differences between open-cell and closed-cell foam insulation, along with their uses and advantages.

      Reply
  6. The article effectively outlines the differences between open-cell and closed-cell foam insulation, providing a clear understanding of their properties and usage. It’s a valuable resource for designers, builders, and professionals in the construction industry.

    Reply
    • I found the detailed description of the properties and characteristics of open-cell foam particularly insightful for understanding its applications and suitability in different construction and design contexts.

      Reply
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  8. This article’s comprehensive coverage of the characteristics, uses, and advantages of open-cell and closed-cell foam insulation provides valuable knowledge for individuals involved in construction, design, and material selection.

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    • I couldn’t agree more. The detailed comparison table is particularly insightful for making informed decisions regarding the selection of foam insulation based on specific project requirements.

      Reply
    • Absolutely. The section on the ‘Advantages’ and ‘Disadvantages’ is a comprehensive guide for evaluating the benefits and limitations of open-cell and closed-cell foam insulation in diverse architectural and construction applications.

      Reply
  9. The article provides valuable insights into the application and benefits of open-cell and closed-cell foam insulation. The comparison of their expansion rates and R-values is particularly useful for making an informed decision.

    Reply
    • Absolutely! Understanding the advantages and disadvantages of each type of foam insulation is crucial for selecting the right material based on the specific requirements of a construction project.

      Reply
  10. The article’s emphasis on the advantages and disadvantages of open-cell and closed-cell foam insulation is essential for anyone seeking to make informed decisions about the insulation materials to be used in construction projects.

    Reply
    • Absolutely. Having a clear understanding of the differences in R-values, expansion rates, and suitability for specific applications is valuable for optimizing the energy efficiency and structural integrity of buildings.

      Reply

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