Frequently Asked Questions

  

What is Sprayed Polyurethane Foam Insulation?

Quite simply, it is "insulation plus sealant". As a rigid cellular plastic with over 95% closed cell content, Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation acts as insulation, an air barrier and, in some cases, also a vapour barrier. Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation will cut energy costs and improve comfort levels in any building.

What are the properties of Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation (SPFI)?

  • Continuous, seamless, no joints
  • Can fill cracks, voids and holes
  • Adheres to wood, metal, concrete, masonry, almost all plastics
  • Almost totally impermeable to air
  • High insulation value
  • Durability and long service life
  • Can be sprayed overhead, doesn't sag
  • Speedy, quick set, installation
  • Doesn't settle
  • Only thermal insulation which is tested for VOC's
  • Can be used as a water barrier

Where in the thermal envelope is Spray Polyurethane Foam used?

  • Foundations
  • Crawl spaces
  • Walls
  • Header spaces
  • Roofs
  • Ceilings
  • Interior walls
  • Can be used as the primary air barrier material
  • Can be used to connect other building materials together

Who applies SPF?

Only trained, certified and licensed installers can install medium density spray polyurethane foam insulation into buildings, ensuring professional and consistent installations. The installer must work for a Licensed Contractor who is responsible to ensure all the requirements of the CAN/ULC S705.2 Installation Standard is met and that all safety and building code requires are adhered to.

What are the advantages to using Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation?

It acts as a seamless insulation making it more efficient than any other material used in the industry. SPF is airtight which eliminates all air infiltration or exfiltration. It is durable, odourless, and will not settle or shrink, making it stable. Because SPF is light and versatile and has strong adhesive properties, it easily fills difficult to reach places and adheres to most clean surfaces. It is quick and easy to install, making SPF an inexpensive alternative to other types of insulation.

What properties does an air barrier assembly require and does spray polyurethane foam provide them?

All medium density spray polyurethane foam is an air barrier material at the minimum installed thickness allowed of 12mm. An air barrier assembly must meet all the requirements outlined in the local Building Code. To do so, other materials must be used to "transition" to penetrations and to terminate. Normally a sheet membrane is installed at these transition points then sprayed over. With a declared and tested assembly, spray polyurethane foam provides all the requirements for an air barrier as required by Building Codes.

Is SPF recognized in the National Building Code?

SPFI is not only recognized as a thermal insulation, with the National Standards being referenced right in the Building Code but also SPF meets the requirements for an air barrier material and an air barrier system. SPF, in some cases can provide the Code required vapour barrier. SPF can provide thermal insulation, air barrier system, vapour barrier and drainage plane all in one application when used in cavity wall construction. SPF has one of the highest R-Values per inch of any insulating material available.

Does spray polyurethane foam "off-gas"?

All manufactured materials will off-gas to some extent. Some building products will off-gas in large qualities

Medium density spray polyurethane foam meeting the CAN/ULC S705.1 Material Standard is the only building product that is tested for occupant conditions. The industry has then taken an unprecedented stance and required that all manufacturers meet a maximum limit of 1/100 of the government allowable limit. Manufacturers have met this requirement in less than 24 hours.

Does spray polyurethane foam burn?

Spray polyurethane foam is an organic material and all organic materials burn. Medium density spray polyurethane foam contains a fire retardant so that the flame spread is less than 500 when tested in accordance with CAN/ULC S102 and specimens prepared in accordance with the requirements of the National Building Code.

Will spray polyurethane insulation absorb or entrap moisture?

Most moisture problems in houses are due to moisture entry from air leakage. Because spray polyurethane insulation provides such an excellent air barrier, this source of moisture is virtually eliminated. Other potential sources of moisture can be excluded with proper construction techniques and materials. Unusual building use (such as freezers or swimming pool buildings) may require a vapor retardant. 

How does closed-cell spray foam provide moisture protection, yet still breathe?

Unlike cellulose and fiberglass materials, closed-cell foam is impervious to water absorption and wicking. Yet, like Gortex® fabric, the closed cell structure allows the passage of water vapor (high energy particles) to allow your home envelope to “breathe”. Liquid water has much larger particles and is unable to pass into or through a closed-cell foam barrier. 

If you spray the underside of a roof deck with SPF insulation, should you vent the attic?

No, the application of SPF insulation to the underside of the roof deck minimizes the potential for condensation. The SPF insulation develops a thermal and moisture gradient that avoids the development of dew point conditions in the attic. Because of this, moisture won’t condense or accumulate and, therefore, does not need to be vented to the exterior.

Is spray polyurethane insulation code approved?

Yes. Building codes provide for the use of spray polyurethane insulation.  The material and application are described in section 705.1 and 705.2. The code also details the use of thermal barriers.
Can spray polyurethane insulation be applied directly to electrical wiring? What about installed electrical devices like recessed lights?

Spray polyurethane can be applied directly to electrical wiring. Recessed lights or other fixtures may require a certain amount of air circulation around them for cooling purposes. In these cases, a box can be built around the fixture with gypsum wall board; then spray foam can be sprayed directly to the outside of the box.
At what point in the construction of my house should spray polyurethane insulation be applied?

Normally spray polyurethane insulation is installed at the same point in the construction cycle as other types of insulation. That is, it should be installed after the rough plumbing, electrical wiring, and heating and air conditioning ducts have been installed. If you decide to seal the entire exterior house shell with spray polyurethane, spray insulation may need to be applied in some areas before the ductwork is installed.

Won’t sealing my house lead to indoor air quality problems?

Most house design professionals will advise you to seal the house structure as tight as possible and provide the necessary ventilation through the heating and air conditioning system. Many systems employ an “air exchanger” which is designed to pre-condition (either warm or cool) the incoming outside air with the outgoing exhaust air. In this manner, you can build an extremely energy efficient exterior shell using spray polyurethane foam while still providing controlled and energy efficient ventilation.  

Why is it important to consider the house as a system?

Each change in construction methods and every new building product affects the whole house. Careful evaluation is critical to avoid negative results, such as adding insulation, which can unintentionally increase moisture accumulation, leading to increased mold growth and structural assembly rot. 

Will spray polyurethane insulation strengthen my house?

Yes! Closed cell foam is rigid and structural. Your walls will be more resistant to winds and you’ll notice less creaking and shaking when doors are slammed or when the kids are romping about.  

How does spray polyurethane insulation compare with glass fiber batts and blown-in cellulose?

Glass fiber batts will not stop air leakage (it might filter out some dirt and dust).  

Blown-in cellulose will slow down air leakage.  

Spray polyurethane insulation will stop air leakage . . . dead.  

Glass fiber batts have an R-value of about 3.5 (1-inch thickness). Blown-in cellulose has an R-value of about 3 to 4 (1-inch thickness). Closed Cell Spray applied polyurethane insulation has an R-value about 6 (1-inch thickness). Glass fiber batts can sag over time, leaving sections uninsulated and you’ll feel colder because of it. Spray polyurethane insulation completely adheres to wood and sheathing and is rigid; the result is a permanent barrier to heat loss and air entry. Spray polyurethane insulation will add strength and rigidity to your house. Glass fiber batts will not. 

Doesn’t it cost a lot of money to go green? Is there a return on investment?

Not only is going green affordable, but the financial and health benefits far outweigh the initial cost. In fact, the typical payback period is less than five years. You enjoy immediate monthly savings and in most instances can increase the value of your home. In addition, improving the tightness of your home and ventilating properly can result in a healthier environment for you and your family. There are a great number of variables that affect the cost of any job. R value; size and location of area to be sprayed; personal budget; code requirements and many more factors affect the end price. For this reason we ask you to contact us directly to discuss your needs. We will be happy to provide a quote. 

What does green or sustainable building mean?

Building green means requiring fewer non-renewable resources to operate and is healthier to live in. Despite the trendiness of alternative building materials, the greenest thing any of us can do when building or remodeling is to reduce our homes’ reliance on energy (water, gas or electric) and improve its indoor air quality.  

How long does it take to install spray polyurethane insulation?

A typical house can be fully insulated with spray polyurethane in a couple of days. Large houses or houses with complex design features could take longer.  

Can a homeowner apply spray polyurethane insulation?

No.  Spray polyurethane application requires complex equipment and a skilled installer.  In Canada residential and commercial applications must be done with certified foam and trained installers.  

Does spray polyurethane foam contain formaldehyde?

No.  

What smells does spray polyurethane insulation produce in my home?

A slight odor will be present during installation of spray polyurethane insulation. This will rapidly dissipate after the spraying operation stops. After that, the installed spray polyurethane insulation will be odorless.  

How does spray foam work?

A two-part mixture is applied by trained professionals to the inside surface of exterior walls, to the underside of the roof, and beneath floors in basements and crawl spaces. The spray mixture expands rapidly to fill all cracks and voids, completely and permanently adhering to wood, masonry, metal studs and joists.  

When can spray foam be installed?

Spray foam insulation is professionally installed at the same point in the construction cycle as other types of insulation. That is, it should be installed after the rough plumbing, electrical wiring, and heating and air conditioning ducts have been installed, but before the interior walls are completed in new home construction. In some cases spray foam also can be applied in older homes, to the inside of roofs and under floors after construction has been completed.  

How long has SPF been around?

Spray polyurethane foam was first used commercially in the US in the 1960s for cold storage and industrial insulation projects. SPF roofing systems evolved from exterior applications to tanks and pipes in the late 60s to early 70s

Can Spray Foam be Used in  Buildings or Barns?

Yes. Our 2 lb closed cell insulation works great in steel buildings and barns. It offers tremendous protection from the elements. Foam applied to the underside of a roof deck or walls seals out rain and snow, therefore preventing damage to the contents of the building. Foam insulation is also beneficial in keeping rodents out as it has no food value. It also will block out the smell of any feed or food within the building, preventing rodents from knowing that there is food present.