A more efficient way to insulate

WHEELING – Back before heating costs and natural gas prices were a concern, insulating a house wasn’t as much of a major concern for homeowners. If it was, fiberglass insulation was more than sufficient.

Those days are long gone and customers are scrambling for a more energy efficient heating solution.

Lisa and John Martin, owners of All in One Insulation in Wheeling, believe they have the perfect solution: foam.

The big key with any type of insulation is the R-value, which measures thermal efficiency. But along with the R-value, how much air a substance allows to pass through it is equally as important. A decent amount of fiberglass insulation will provide a solid R-value, but will still allow air to permeate through the material.

With the foam, that’s not the case.

The chemicals that make up the polyurethane-based foam are mixed together at the end of the spray gun just before application. This allows for rapid expansion when an installer is applying the product to the wall between studs.

It quickly fills the space between the studs, supplying stud-to-stud coverage. All the installer must do is shave off the excess foam and the homeowner is left with a flat, high R-value surface that also takes care of the lost air flow problem.

“As long as your losing air, you’re still going to have to work harder to heat your house and that costs more money,” said Jim Upton of Demilec, a company that supplies All in One the materials for the spray foam. ”This seals all the cracks that you and I have to pay for.”

But efficiency isn’t the only bonus to the spray foam.

Because of its makeup, sound doesn’t travel nearly as well through the walls when compared to walls using fiberglass insulation. No more hearing light conversations from a room or two down the hall.

It also improves the air quality in your home by keeping the dust and pollen out. You’ll find few homeowners who will complain about having to dust less, a fact Lisa Martin points out to homeowners at trade and home shows when talking about their latest product.

All in One is a division of Wheeling Canvas Products, which has been family-owned business since opening in 1965.

Originally the company focused on tents and awnings, both for commercial and individual use.

But in the Ohio Valley climate, there isn’t much call for awnings during the harsh winters. Noting that her customers liked seeing the same employees each time they required service, the Martins were looking for a way to keep their full-time employees working year round.

That’s a main reason they ventured into the insulation business.

”Now we can keep you cool in the summer and warm in the winter,” Lisa said. ”Our goal is to keep you comfy year round.”

Opting to go with spray foam, and another version called Air Krete, was a significant upfront investment for the Martins.

The work requires an on-site generator, a trailer to haul the equipment, hoses, spray guns and the chemicals required to mix the solution aren’t cheap.

”We also had to fly all our employees to Texas for training and then have on-the-job training back here when they returned,” said John Martin.

But the results were worth the initial start-up costs. Lisa Martin says all of their customers who have utilized the spray foam insulation rave about the comfort, and the cost savings to heat their homes.

Another bonus is All in One is the only local company offering to install this type of insulation.

Martin said the Air Krete line of insulation is more expensive than spray foam but for good reason.

The substance passed a two-hour fire wall test and had no flame spread or developed smoke and contributed no fuel to the test burn.

It’s an environmentally safe, mineral based insulation similar to cement. When inserted into a wall, it fills every crack and has zero shrinkage.

Air Krete is magnesium oxide, a refractory cement, and is ideal for high temperature usage.

Martin explained the interest in Air Krete is more commercial than private at the moment, but homeowners have been opting for it, especially those with brick houses because of the ease of application.

For more information, contact All in One Insulation at (304) 232-5403.

For a brief demonstration of how the foam expands upon installation, go to www.timesleaderonline.com to view a quick video presentation.

Hughes may be reached at mhughes@timesleaderonline.com