Click on each FAQ to see the answer!
What is Spray Foam?
Sprayed Polyurethane Foam (SPF or spray foam) is produced by a chemical reaction of isocyanate (A component) and polyol (B component). These two components are fed through a proportioner which heats then pumps the two separate components to the spray gun, where they are mixed and sprayed onto the substrate. The result is a rigid plastic that expands during the curing process and becomes a seamless layer of foam. SPF requires a clean surface for proper application. It must be dry, free of contaminants like oil, and properly fastened to the substrate in accordance with the proper building codes.
There are two general categories of SPF insulation materials; open-cell, low-density (a.k.a. ‘half-pound foam’) and closed-cell, medium-density (a.k.a. ‘two or three-pound foam’). Both foam categories provide excellent insulation and air sealing.
Open-cell spray foam (ocSPF) has an open cell structure where the cells are filled with air. The open-cell structure renders soft, flexible foam, with a density of about 0.5-0.8 pounds per cubic foot (pcf).
Closed-cell spray foam (ccSPF) has a closed cell structure which yields a rigid, hard foam, with a density of 1.8- 3 pound per cubic foot (pcf), and has been demonstrated to provide structural enhancement in certain framed buildings.
North Central Insulation typically uses the closed-cell spray foam – 2lb for wall insulation and 3 lb. for roofs.
Is Spray Foam permitted by the building codes?
Yes! Foam has approval of all four major building codes in the United States and the Canadian building code. In fact, it is one of the most extensively tested insulation products ever. The use of SPF insulation and roofing systems is permitted by the international model building codes published by the International Codes Council (ICC). SPF is a type of foam plastic, which is specifically addressed in the International Building Code (IBC) Section 2603, and in the International Residential Code (IRC) Section R316. These sections of the model building codes focus on fire protection requirements for safe installation of these materials. Many SPF products have third-party code compliance evaluation reports that detail how specific products may be installed to meet the model building code requirements. Although ICC provides model building codes, states and local jurisdictions accept different editions or may make changes to these codes before adoption Always check with your local building department to confirm which version of the code is being used and specific requirements for the use of SPF. For copies of or more information about the model building codes, they may be available at your local public library or visit www.iccsafe.org
Are there any structural benefits of spray foam?
Yes. Because of its rigid nature and ability to adhere to many materials, closed-cell SPF (ccSPF) can provide structural enhancement to framed buildings. Racking strength of certain framed walls, as well as uplift strength of framed roof decks can be significantly increased with the addition of just 2-3 inches of SPF. For more information, please contact Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance (SPFA) to obtain detailed reports at www.sprayfoam.org.
Does SPF absorb water?
No. Closed-cell foams, by nature, are resistant to water absorption, and are approved by FEMA as a flood-resistant material. The closed-cell Spray Polyurethane Foam actually repels water. It does however, have a low vapor transmission rate which allows the roof to breathe and keep moisture from forming under the foam surface.
Is Spray foam Toxic
No, Spray Foam is NOT toxic. Usually within 24-48 hours of application and with proper ventilation, there are no hazardous fumes present in the building.
Can SPF be used as an air barrier?
Spray foam, when applied to certain minimum thicknesses (about 1.5” for closed-cell foam and 3.5-5.5” for open-cell foam) will form an air-impermeable, air-barrier material. When properly installed in a well-designed building envelope, SPF plays a key part in creating air barrier assemblies and systems. For more information on air barriers, visit the Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA) at www.airbarrier.org. ABAA provides a material specification for SPF under ABAA document 07263.
What fire protection measures (thermal or ignition barriers) are required for SPF?
SPF, like many construction materials, is combustible, and can ignite when subjected to heat or flame. For this reason, model building codes require that SPF materials (with some exceptions) must be separated from interior (occupied) spaces by a 15-minute thermal barrier, such as ½” gypsum board/drywall. In limited access areas like crawlspaces and attics, an ignition barrier may be permitted in place of a thermal barrier. Prescriptive thermal and ignition barriers are defined in the model building codes, and alternative coatings, coverings and assemblies may be used. For more information on thermal and ignition barriers, please see SPFA guideline AY-126 from the Technical Documents section on www.sprayfoam.org.
Why should I choose North Central Insulation over another company for spray foam?
Spray foam is a great product – when it is installed correctly. North Central Insulation has been spraying foam since 1969. Our spray foam crews have an average of 20 years’ experience in using foam industry products, mastering foam techniques and foam industry training. North Central Insulation has an A plus rating with the Better Business Bureau, fully bonded and Insured, a high Dunn and Bradstreet rating, stellar safety record and a company of high integrity. We work hard on customer satisfaction and will stand by our work. You know the saying – ‘You get what you pay for’. What this means is the job will be done right the first time by a professional company and crew that has been doing quality work for decades.
What is a ‘Spray Polyurethane Foam Roofing System?
An SPF roofing system consists of a layer of foam, coating and a layer of granules as shown in the below picture:
The Spray Polyurethane Foam Roofing System can be applied over a wide variety of substrates, including concrete, wood, metal, failed built-up and single ply. After the roof deck is properly cleaned and prepared, a layer of spray polyurethane foam (SPF) is applied. Sprayed as a liquid, a chemical reaction allows a solid closed-cell membrane to form in seconds. The thickness can be varied for additional insulation, to create positive slope, or to remove areas that pond water.
Because it is sprayed there are no seams which creates a fully adhered monolithic layer with no potential points of water entry. Other roofing systems not only have seams and joints, but they utilize fasteners for attachment. Seams, joints, and fasteners create "thermal shorts", which transfer valuable cooling and heating through the roof. Thermal shorts on roofs can reduce energy efficiency by up to 35%.
The SPF is protected by two coats of an elastomeric coating, forming a durable weather resistant membrane. Attractive granules are broadcast in the final coat. The Roofing System is "self-flashing", as it can be applied to vertical surfaces forming a homogenous surface.
Only highly skilled qualified applicators can apply this system. Upon completion an independent engineering laboratory inspects each and every application to validate the warranty, assuring you of the quality you expect.
The Roofing Systems we install are:
- Energy Star Approved
- LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) certified
- Underwriters Laboratories (UL) rated
- Factory Mutual Research (FM) certified
- Miami-Dade County approved and meets California Title 24
How long has Spray Foam roofing been used on roofs?
North Central Insulation has been spraying foam since 1969 and is one of the first businesses in the nation to offer spray foam roofing to customers. Most of the roofs installed by North Central Insulation since that time are still in good condition and performing well when basic care was taken.
Why haven't I heard of Spray foam roofing before?
Sprayed Polyurethane Foam (SPF) is a comparatively new type of roof but is being used more and more on flat roofs because of its heat reflection, insulation properties, seamless and adhesive characteristics and energy savings. When you look at the long term benefits of foam roofing, such as the solution for ponding water, renewability, energy savings and waterproofing, then it is clearly the best choice. SPF roofing is becoming increasingly popular in the US and worldwide.
How long will the roof last?
There is no known end to the service life of a properly installed and maintained Spray Foam Roof. If the coating for an SPF roof is properly maintained, then an SPF roof can last a life time. The 40+ year old roofs North Central Insulation has installed are still in great condition and have an amazing ability to outlast any other roofing systems. As long as the elastomeric coating is in good shape (recommended recoat every 10 to 15 years) to protect the foam from UV degradation the foam should last the life of the building adding to the cost effectiveness of spray foam roofing.
Can you walk on a spray foam roof?
Yes, SPF used for roofing is a very dense, but light weight foam and has a compression strength of approximately 45 pounds per square inch. It can easily handle normal roof traffic and wear and tear.
Does the old roof need to be torn off?
Not necessarily. SPF roofing can be applied over the old roof, if it is clean and any loose material is removed. If the existing insulation, underlayment and/or decking is NOT wet or deteriorating, spray foam can be applied over the existing insulation and underlayment adding insulation value, keeping more materials out of area landfills and eliminating costly roof tear-offs.
How do Spray Foam Roof Systems compare in cost to other roofing systems?
Costs of roofing varies per job, but we have found spray foam roofs to be competitively priced with other commercial roofing systems. The added benefit of seeing heating and cooling costs drop an average of 30% helps cost recovery of the foam roof we install.
After studying millions of square feet of roofing, Texas A&M University concluded that their energy savings alone paid for the cost of SPF retrofits within just 3-4 years.
See the chart below to compare spray foam roofs and other systems:
Why is there a need for coatings over the spray foam (SPF)?
SPF is water resistant without coatings, however, the surface of SPF can deteriorate under the sun's ultraviolet (UV) rays requiring the need for protective coatings. Typically acrylic, polyurethane, or silicone elastomeric coatings are used with a crushed granule aggregate. A re-oat on an SPF roof is recommended every 10 to 15 years to protect the spray foam.
Is there a warranty available for spray foam (SPF) roofs?
Yes. All of our foam roofs are eligible for a 10 – 15(can upgrade to 20) year leak free manufacturer’s warranty, which covers labor and material. You can continue to warranty your roof for the life of the building when you re-coat your roof when the current warranty period expires. Warranties are also transferable.
How do you maintain a Spray Foam Roof System?
Roofing Systems have been designed to provide years of leak-free performance. However, as with any roof, the roofing system requires periodic routine maintenance in order for you to obtain optimum performance for the life of the System and to keep your warranty in full force and effect. SPF roof systems should be inspected annually and after events that could cause physical damage. Small (less than 3" diameter) dents, cracks, punctures from dropped tools, and wind driven debris can be repaired with an elastomeric sealant compatible with the SPF and coating system. More extensive damage can be repaired by reapplying SPF and coating.
Typically SPF roof systems are re-coated every 10-15 years, depending on the type and thickness of coating used, and factors specific to the roof (such as wind erosion effects, hail, foot traffic, abuse, etc.) Recoating extends the service life of the SPF roof system.
Are Spray Foam Roofs 'Sustainable' or 'Green'?
Yes. Sustainability – ‘taking the long-term view of how our actions affect future generations and making sure we don't deplete resources at rates faster than the earth is able to renew them’. Spray foam is the most sustainable roofing system available on the market.
Saves Energy - Spray roofing offers the highest R-value (insulating power) of any traditional roofing insulation, leading to significantly decreased energy consumption. It also eliminates air infiltration, which can account for as much as 40% of normal energy losses. Using spray foam as a green alternative for a roof not only saves money every month by lowering utility bills, it significantly reduces the need for future roof replacement.
Lasts Longer - Properly maintained, a spray foam roof has a potentially limitless lifespan. On average, every ten to fifteen years the roof will need to be cleaned, primed and recoated. Keep up with the proper maintenance and green spray foam roofing system will far outlast any alternative roofing option, several decades and more.
Kind to Environment - Furthermore, green spray foam roofing is sustainable in that it cuts down on excess waste that ends up in a landfill. It can be applied directly to old existing roofing systems, whether green spray foam roofing or other materials. Thus it eliminates the hassle and expense of removing and disposing of old roofing material, and incorporates the old material into the new structure rather than adding it to the earth’s waste.
As the Director of Operations and Maintenance for our school district, I am responsible for the maintenance of the roofs on our seven schools. We are just completing a re-coating of our… James L. Reynolds
Des Plaines, IL