People often ask me about spray polyurethane foam (SPF), wondering if it’s the latest and greatest or a safety/environmental/health/durability catastrophe that’s being unleashed on an unsuspecting marketplace. The answer: Yes.
Safe or Sorry?
What do people worry about? Off-gassing, flame and smoke, shrinkage, water trapping, vapor permeability, and condensation issues.
The learning curve continues. Code requirements vary from place to place, and different products may behave differently. My experience with SPF has been positive, and I will continue recommending it as the product of choice for most insulation applications.
SPF isn’t exactly a new technology. Syracuse University research professor Mark Bomberg, perhaps the foremost expert on spray foam, says it was discovered by accident in 1937 in Germany by Otto Bayer who was trying to develop a spray adhesive.
Get it Right
Even after all these years, I suspect there are a lot more ways to get foam wrong than there are to get it right. Those odds are perfectly in line with the rest of human experience. Any technology is only as good as the skill and knowledge of those who deploy it.
Always recommend that building occupants and their pets stay out of the house for 24 hours starting when the foam is sprayed. Manage moisture in the building, follow the manufacturer’s instructions, and use an expert installer. It’s worth the trouble. —Ed Voytovich, a BPI-certified HERS Rater, is with Halco.
More REMODELING articles about SPF insulation:
Spray-Foam Insulation: Open-Cell vs. Closed-Cell — The pros and cons of each type of insulation
Fire Prevention Fomo Products Handi-Foam Ignition Barrier