What are Benefits of Basement Foam Insulation?

Gregory Hanson

The basements of modern homes are often used as living spaces and may have spare bedrooms, playrooms, home offices or theater systems. If these basement spaces are to be usable and pleasant, they must be properly insulated and sealed. Basement foam insulation is available in a variety of different forms, including spray foam insulation, foam board, and foam forms for basement construction. Any one of these types of foam, if properly installed, can improve the climate of a basement space and save a great deal of money in heating costs. Installing basement foam insulation can also reduce problems with basement water buildup and, in unfinished basements, can still provide improved energy efficiency, as well as critical protection against frozen pipes.

Spray foam insulation on a house.
Spray foam insulation on a house.

As more people have come to use basements as living spaces, rather than utility areas, more and more foam insulation products have become available for use in those spaces. Spray foam is generally used to fill cavities within walls and can be employed within the walls of finished basements. Foam panels of several varieties can be added either on the outside of a foundation, or, more commonly, on the inside. A growing number of homes employ pre-fabricated foam forms for the concrete foundation, which provides excellent insulation and good moisture resistance.

Foam insulation increases energy efficiency.
Foam insulation increases energy efficiency.

The single most important advantage of basement foam insulation is increased energy efficiency. Foam is an excellent insulator, and a basement insulated with foam will be much less expensive to heat than one that has not been insulated. This allows for comfort if the basement is used as living space and can reduce heating bills in homes with unfinished basements. A basement is normally a warm space and loses a significant amount of heat if not insulated. An unfinished basement with no insulation can grow very cold, and basement foam insulation, in addition to reducing the total amount of energy required to heat a home, can keep a basement from becoming cold enough to allow pipes to freeze.

Basement foam insulation might help prevent frozen pipes.
Basement foam insulation might help prevent frozen pipes.

Basements tend to be wet places. In some cases, this may impose limitations on the installation of basement foam insulation. Any basement that is prone to water leakage at the cove joint should not have foam insulation installed at floor level, but insulation can still, generally, be safely and usefully installed from the midpoint of the wall to the top. Foam insulation, however, can combat one type of basement moisture, when combined with an appropriate vapor barrier system, by preventing condensation as warm moist air meets cool basement walls.

Spray foam insulation is designed to fill the spaces within walls.
Spray foam insulation is designed to fill the spaces within walls.

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Discussion Comments


@fBoyle-- I'm not sure. I do know that foam insulation is very good at keeping water and moisture out though and that may reduce the presence of insects that prefer moist, warm areas. But I'm not sure about termites.

We had foam insulation put in because it rains a lot where we live and the moisture from the soil was starting to affect the basement walls. We were worried about mildew. The insulation seems to have resolved out problem completely. And yes, we do save money on heating and cooling.


Does foam insulation used for cavities in walls also reduce presence of insects? Can it prevent termites from getting in? We had a termite problem recently and the exterminator said that there are many cavities in the wall. Would filling those areas with foam insulation help?


Foam insulation saves a lot of money in heating costs also because basements are the coldest area of a house. Without proper insulation on the floors and walls, the cold from the ground, topped with moisture makes basements very difficult places to live. But most people don't want to use basements as storage rooms. They want to be able to use them which means turning up the heater a lot more than usual to make the basement warm and dry.

At first, having insulation done may seem costly but it's a great investment and the reduction in heating bills truly pays the insulation cost off in a short time period.

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