What is Polyurethane Foam? Where and How is it Used?

What is Polyurethane Foam? Where and How is it Used?

Jan 11th 2023

Polyurethanes are used in a wide variety of products to their unique makeup and properties that allow them to seal gaps, insulate buildings, and more. Because of the properties of polyurethane foam, it can be used to create countless objects used in our everyday lives as well as provide structural support for homes and businesses.

There are multiple types of polyurethane foam, and each one of them has its own unique benefits and properties. This versatility and flexibility is just one physical property that makes polyurethane foam so useful for a wide range of applications in the industrial world. In fact, you probably use and see polyurethane (PU) foam every day without even realizing it.

In this guide, we will discuss what polyurethane foam is, how it is used, and the benefits of using PU foam over another type of foam for insulating and sealing gaps.

What is Polyurethane Foam?

Polyurethane foam (sometimes called PU foam) is a type of insulation material and sealant that can be used to fill gaps and assemble windows, doors, and other structures. Polyurethane foam is a synthetic blend of organic compounds, meaning that it is made up of organic materials but is blended in a way that does not occur in nature. Many PU foams contain substances like flame retardants, which make them more safe for everyday use. One consideration for using PU foam is that it sometimes yellows under UV light, so many polyurethane foams also contain materials that make them more resistant to sunlight, which emits UV lighting. This way, they can be used both indoors and outdoors.

Open-Cell Polyurethane Foam vs Closed-Cell Polyurethane Foam

There are multiple types of foam, each with their own applications and benefits. The main two types of polyurethane foam are called closed-cell foam and open-cell foam.

Open cell PU foam is flexible, meaning that it is generally easier to apply than closed cell foam. However, if you are looking for a long-term solution for insulating or sealing a construction project, closed cell foam is probably your best bet. Closed cell foam is more rigid than its open counterpart, meaning it tends to be longer lasting and more durable. Therefore, closed cell foam is better for outdoor use, while open cell foam might be better for small indoor projects.

Rigid Polyurethane Foam vs Flexible Polyurethane Foam

The difference between rigid polyurethane foam and flexible polyurethane foam comes back to the idea of closed and open cell polyurethane. As we mentioned, closed cell polyurethane tends to be more rigid and more durable, meaning that it can hold up longer and can support more material. As such, rigid polyurethane foams are made up of a high ratio of closed cells. Flexible polyurethane, on the other hand, is made up of a high ratio of open cells, making it more flexible and easy to apply but significantly less durable.

Benefits Of Polyurethane Foam

Polyurethane foam sealant has a number of benefits when used for construction purposes. First, it creates a strong, watertight seal, preventing water and air from entering an area. Further, due to its great insulative properties, using polyurethane foam sealants can help you maintain a more comfortable temperature in your home and prevent warm air from escaping during cold months. Let’s take a deeper look at the many benefits of using polyurethane foam and its many applications.

Airtight And Watertight Seals

Polyurethane foam sealants are often used to create structural integrity for homes, buildings, and other structures. Polyurethane foam sealants create an airtight and watertight teal, preventing water and air from penetrating an area. This type of sealant can be used to seal windows, doors, and corners.

PU foam can be sealed with a silicone sealant, too, such as Select Neutral Cure 100% RTV Silicone Sealant (Detached Nozzle). Using a 100% silicone sealant to seal polyurethane foam ensures that you create the most durable, long-lasting seals possible to prevent the need to reapply the material over time.

Better Temperature Control

Polyurethane foam is one of the best insulation materials available on the market, and it is by far one of the most commonly used in the United States. Polyurethane insulating foam provides long-lasting, near-permanent thermal insulation for a home, preventing the need for repeated applications and lowering maintenance costs. The type of foam used for insulation in homes, businesses, and other structures is called rigid polyurethane foam. Rigid foam is used for insulation because it is a permanent solution, and will not break down over time.

Versatile Applications

Polyurethane foam is a versatile material that can be used for various purposes. Of course, the most obvious applications include sealing doors and windows, as well as industrial applications including sealing ship decks and adhering other insulating materials.

You might not realize, too, that polyurethane foam actually has uses outside of just sealing cracks and gaps and insulating buildings; in fact, memory foam is a type of polyurethane foam. Memory foam is simply made up of certain types of flexible polyurethane foams and other materials to make it more flexible and comfortable to sleep on. Memory foam is used in mattresses, pillows, and even car seats.

Believe it or not, polyurethane foam is even used to make kitchen sponges! If you purchase a kitchen sponge from the store that isn’t labeled as a 100% natural sponge, it’s likely that it is made of polyurethane foam. Polyurethane foam is used in sponges because of its high density and high resilience, preventing wear and tear from everyday use.

Get The Best Foam Sealant For Any Project At Silicone Depot

If you’re looking for an insulative material for your home, there is no better choice than polyurethane foam sealant - but you need to choose the right kind of product. If you're looking to create a reliable, lasting seal, it is important to purchase an expanding foam sealant made from a closed cell foam. Closed cell foams are a more rigid texture than open cells, creating a firmer, better, and stronger seal.

Silicone Depot’s Expanding Foam Sealant is your solution for sealing gaps and cracks all around your home, as well as providing optimal insulation and helping you keep your home or business at the perfect temperature all the time. Our expanding closed foam sealant will last for a long time, preventing the need for maintenance and giving you peace of mind.

Using a silicone sealant like our Kitchen & Bath Mildew Resistant RTV Silicone Sealant can help you ensure that the bonds you create with our PU foam don’t fade, wear, or tear any time soon. Don’t hesitate to check out our catalog of foam sealants today!