Stop and Read This Before You Dress Up Furnishings with Spray Foam
This popular foam sealant gives furnishings a trendy, bubbly look, but take care when using it to freshen up household décor items.
Transforming mirrors, chairs, and other furnishings from dull to dramatic is quick and easy with spray foam insulation. The quirky look is trending on social media, but while this DIY project is fun and simple, it’s not risk-free. Several expanding spray foam products are available online and in home improvement stores. One that’s especially well-suited to creating puffy projects is Great Stuff Big Gap Filler, a DuPont product designed to fill gaps in walls and around pipes to help keep outside air from seeping into a house or basement.
If you’re looking to add a bit of foamy fun to household items—and this project does create a pretty cool effect—keep reading to find out how to use it safely and how to get the best results.
How it Works
This polyurethane foam product is in liquid form in the can, but as soon as it comes into contact with air, it expands, similar to how canned whipped topping swells into billowy froths. Spray foam, however, becomes rigid as it cures, which makes it well-suited as an artistic medium for creating a bubbly frame around a mirror or a foamy-looking seat on a chair or stool. It takes about 15 minutes for the polyurethane foam to cure to a non-tacky state. Depending on humidity, it will harden in about an hour, and then the user can trim or carve it with a utility knife, if desired.
Take it Outdoors
A nearly unpronounceable list of chemicals, including isobutene, methyl ether, and polymeric diisocyanate, should immediately alert users to the sealant’s potentially toxic nature. During application—when the product is still in liquid form—it off-gasses poisonous fumes that can lead to serious respiratory problems if inhaled. The fumes are also highly flammable, so using spray foam near a pilot light or lit cigarette can result in a dangerous flash-fire. For safety, create spray foam pieces outdoors where the fumes can disperse into the breeze. According to Great Stuff’s manufacturer, once the foam is fully hardened and cured, it no longer presents a toxic fume threat, but remains flammable. Keep finished décor items away from fireplaces, gas stoves, candles, and other open flames.
Bring it Inside
While it’s imperative to use this polyurethane spray foam outdoors for ventilation purposes, the cured foam will not withstand the elements. Rain and harsh UV rays will break down the foam’s structure, causing it to disintegrate. After the foam on the new project dries and hardens, bring your creation indoors to enjoy.
Cool Project Ideas
When used safely, spray foam insulation offers a creative way to update household furnishings; users can impart a foamy look on everything from vases and stools to picture frames. The foam expands to a bubbly, bumpy surface right out of the can, but when sprayed into a closed form, it will mold to the form’s inner configuration, maintaining its shape once the form is stripped away.
With spray foam insulation, crafters and artisans are limited only by their creativity. They can even paint the foam after it hardens—but like many products used in the construction and remodeling trades, it’s essential to follow safety precautions to ensure a successful—and harmless—project.