What’s closed cell foam?

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Closed-cell foam is a versatile material with high structural integrity, compressive strength, and low moisture absorption. The six basic types are polyethylene, Styrofoam, Volara®, Minicel®, neoprene, and gym rubber. Each type has its own specific uses, such as insulation, shock absorption, and padding.

Closed-cell foam is a strong, flexible material made up of internal pores, or cells, that sit tightly together but are not connected. Its structure can be compared to a net filled with balloons, where the balloons are trapped against each other, but are not interconnected. It’s a versatile material that can be used in everything from crafts to construction. The six basic types of closed cell foam are polyethylene, Styrofoam, Volara®, Minicel®, neoprene and gym rubber.

All types of closed cell foam are known for their high structural integrity, high compressive strength and low moisture absorption. It’s lightweight, flexible, and sturdy, and resists most solvents and chemicals, as well as mold and mildew. Strong enough to withstand a large amount of pressure without major distortion, it is stronger than open cell foam, but also requires more material, making it more expensive. How to use the foam varies according to the type.

Strong and durable, polyethylene foam is often sold as closed cell foam sheets. It is used as a heat insulator, as a shock absorber, to dampen sound and as cushioning. It is very lively and is frequently found in flotation devices and other marine equipment.

Polystyrene, also called Styrofoam, is a lightweight foam that is easy to work with. It is used in construction as an insulator due to its almost complete resistance to humidity, water vapor and mould. It’s also a popular choice for arts and crafts and packaging material.

Volara® is a fine foam with a smooth texture, gauge control, and low water absorption and vapor transmission. It is generally found in refrigerators and freezers or used as padding for poker tables. It has also been used a lot in the automotive industry.

Minicel® is a thick closed cell foam that has a smooth feel. It is commonly used for shock absorption and padding and can be used to cushion sports equipment such as football helmets. It is also used in flotation equipment and aircraft seats.
Neoprene is a flexible and durable foam rubber. It is close fitting and offers insulation from heat, cold and humidity. Neoprene can also resist water degradation, along with ozone, sunlight, oxidation, and oils. Some of the many uses of neoprene include braces, wetsuits, waders and gloves.
Gymnastics rubber is durable, flexible, elastic, and resistant to most liquids. As the name suggests, this type of closed-cell foam is often used in exercise mats, camping mats, boat cushions, and floor pads. Its soft texture makes it a good choice for padding.

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