On this site you will find the resources to:
* Understand the concept of Air Barrier Systems
* Design Air Barrier Systems
* Specify Air Barrier Systems in your Building Enclosure
* Locate Manufactures and Distributors of Air Barrier Materials
* Locate Contractors who Install Air Barrier Assemblies and Systems
* Incorporate ABAA’s Quality Assurance Program into your Project
These resources will allow you to provide a working and effective Air Barrier System in your building.
The information contained herein is meant to be informative and brief, not prescriptive or comprehensive. For more comprehensive, detailed information please see the related links in the sections below, and consult a knowledgeable, skilled SPF contractor.
The construction and SPF industries are mutual stakeholders in the other's success and growth. It is imperative that professional construction trades be very familiar with SPF, its health & safety considerations, and the impact quality of installation has on performance.
A knowledgeable and informed construction professional, empowered by accurate consensus developed information, can engage in meaningful dialog with SPF professionals and dramatically increase the likelihood of project success and customer satisfaction.
SPFA has endeavoured to present to you relevant and empowering information on this website. We will be updating these materials regularly.
If you are a home builder, commercial builder, architect, general contractor, building code official, or otherwise considered a “professional customer” in the construction industry, the following resources are intended to aid you in your selection, specification, use and proper understanding of SPF.
SPFA PCP Certification
One of the best assets you can have on your SPF project is a certified contractor. With an increasing number of SPF product and service providers in the United States and beyond, having something like an industry certified SPF professional on your worksite can bring a higher level of confidence and customer satisfaction. Particularly in the case of professional customers, you will be likely looking for the SPF contractor to perform high-quality installations consistently across multiple projects. Whether those projects are roofing or insulation, your reputation and project success can be on the line. A high-quality, consistent, safe and healthful, successful project is an imperative.
As a construction industry pro, you recognize the value of industry credentials. Every reputable industry offers them, from building analysis, to energy and environmental design, electrical, plumbing and more. The SPFA Professional Certification Program (PCP), while focusing upon the professional contractor, was developed with the customer in mind. SPF installation is an orchestra of people, materials and equipment. Many times a project has multiple trades on a worksite as well. Having a PCP certified SPF professional conduct this installation orchestra on your site means you have someone that has met the most stringent industry requirements available.
Additionally, the PCP achieved ISO-17024 compliance. As an industry professional you understand that equates to an unmatched rigorousness, thoroughness and completeness. Whether you are looking for a contractor for one job, multiple jobs, to satisfy a spec or bid-request for a certified professional, an SPFA PCP Certified professional is prepared to work with you and focus upon your project’s success.
- For more information on SPFA’s PCP Certifications, click HERE.
SPF Health and Safety Information
Because SPF is created in your building rather than a factory, it requires a detailed installation process using a variety of materials and equipment operated by a knowledgeable and experienced professional contractor. For insulation, once the SPF is properly installed, cured and inert, occupants or adjacent trades are able to return following a period of time, typically twenty four hours, having allowed the SPF professionals to complete the installation and ventilate the area. For roofing, the building typically does not have to be vacated but the HVAC system should be shut down, air-intakes, skylights, and other protrusions must be covered and sealed. Your professional SPF contractor should be able to provide specific guidance on these matters.
SPF uses two containers of materials that contain chemicals and additives necessary for the reaction that produces SPF, just as other plastic products require multiple components to be properly manufactured. The installation crews typically wear body suits, hoods, gloves and respirators as required PPE. The reason for this is simple – during the installation process the materials used, by themselves, represent possible respiratory hazards for the installer.
Particularly with professional high-pressure SPF equipment, the type used to insulate rooms, entire building interiors or exteriors, or roofs, the SPF materials are heated and pushed through hoses to the tip of the gun where the reaction first takes place. The SPF begins to react before it even hits the target substrate. Due to the pressure of the SPF some of the material is temporarily atomized around the installer, which is the reason for the installer’s Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and in the case of interior installation, additional mechanical ventilation equipment. This is also the reason why customers and adjacent trades are not allowed in the spray area during and soon after the installation process. With the recommended twenty four hours (consult with your contractor for specific manufacturer recommendations) before re-entry following interior installation, curing is able to take place and ongoing ventilation allows for any odors or vapors to vacate the premises.
The SPF professional should be familiar with these topics and be able to discuss with consumers what the expectations are for the project. If the contractor has completed the SPFA Professional Certification Program (PCP), the basics of essential health and safety are covered even at the entry-level Assistant Certification.
- Visit SPFA’s Health and Safety page HERE for more detailed information.
- Visit this partnering website for more information on installation expectations.
In the case of low-pressure “kits and cans” that are typically used by both SPF professionals as well as weatherization professionals, it is still important that proper precautions are taken, the manufacturers recommendations are followed for use and handling, fans and ventilation are utilized, and PPE is worn. The “low-pressure” at which these systems operate means that the materials coming from the SPF gun or can are not being delivered at the high pressure of professional equipment. However, the material components are similar to high-pressure SPF and users are recommended to wear PPE as well.
- For guidance on low-pressure installation and related PPE, click HERE.
- For a free instruction video on safe use of low-pressure SPF, click HERE.
Technical Documentation & Programs
SPFA has produced technical documents on a wide variety of matters covering installation, equipment, energy and environment, and many others. If these documents, along with your contractor, do not answer your question, SPFA likely knows where to find you one. SPFA’s technical activities range from research and development on fire testing or Life Cycle Assessments (LCA), to consideration of building science as it relates to SPF, chemical health and safety, installation practice and techniques, building codes and standards, and many other issues of importance to construction professionals.
- To access SPFA technical committees, technical documents library, FAQs, Glossary of terms and other information, click HERE.
Energy & Environment
SPF can offer important benefits reducing energy consumption and improving the environment. Energy use reduction, particularly for large commercial buildings, from a better insulated and air-sealed envelope means less pollution from energy production. But SPF impacts energy and the environment in other positive ways as well. By sealing the building or the roof, and utilizing the HVAC system for ventilation, the indoor air quality (IAQ) can improve by reducing interior pollution and allergens. Plus, SPFA performed a rigorous, third-party ISO-standard compliant Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), and corresponding Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) that can help your project attain LEED or other credits. These documents confirmed what the industry and satisfied customers have always recognized, that SPF has rapid payback and is environmentally conscious from “cradle to grave”. The SPF industry is very proud of the product’s performance, now verified in a way that no other insulation industry has gone to these lengths to produce.
- Visit SPFA’s Energy and Environment page HERE for more information.
Like many building products, SPF is an organic, combustible material, and requires proper treatment to reduce the risk of fire. During installation a professional SPF contractor will typically place a “No Hot-Work” sign after installation before fire protective coverings or coatings are installed. No Hot-Work means that before installation of the protective coatings or coverings, no welding or open flame sources should be near the SPF. Welders, plumbers with soldering torches, and other intense flame-producing activities should proceed cautiously and be certain the SPF is protected from the flames.
Once the SPF is installed, building and fire codes (IBC Section 2603 and IRC Section R316) require that building assemblies using foam plastics, including SPF, must have the same fire performance as assemblies using other building products. Building codes prescriptively require that all foam plastics be separated from the interior space with a 15-minute thermal barrier. This requirement is typically met using ½” gypsum wallboard on walls and ceilings and ¾” plywood on floors. In lieu of these prescriptive coverings, intumescent paints can be used as an alternative thermal barrier, provided that these coatings, when applied over a specific foam product, pass a series of full-scale room corner fire tests.
In certain attic and crawlspaces not regularly accessed or used for storage, the foam must be covered with an ignition barrier. The codes prescribe several ignition barrier materials, and alternatively allow intumescent coatings or even bare foam if the assembly passes a special room corner burn test defined in Appendix X of International Code Council Evaluation Services (ICC-ES) Acceptance Criteria AC-377. To be sure the thermal or ignition barriers meet the building code requirements, check with the ICC-ES Evaluation Service Report or other 3rd-party product evaluation reports for details. It should be noted that these limited access attic and crawlspaces still need to be separated from the interior with a 15-minute thermal barrier.
Regardless of the thermal or ignition barrier requirements for the foam used, it should be addressed in the project scope and planning. It is essential that the consumer be aware of which product is being used in their building and ask the contractor if an ICC-ES report is available. In the absence of an ICC-ES report, the contractor should be able to advise the consumer if an ignition or thermal barrier is required for the installation.
- For more information on fire safety, as well as ignition and thermal barriers for SPF, please review SPFA’s AY-126 guidance document on this topic HERE.
- To search for an ICC-ES Evaluation Services Report on a particular SPF product, click HERE.
Installation, Performance & Benefits
SPF has a multitude of performance benefits. For the professional customer SPF represents a complete insulation solution with high R-value and air-sealing, or complete roofing solution with durable waterproofing, all-in-one product.
SPF insulation is also known for sound-attenuation within the building, as well as adding “racking strength” to walls and increasing the durability and attachment of roofs when SPF is in the attic under severe weather/wind conditions. The R-value and air-sealing capabilities vary based upon the product and the manufacturer. For example, low-density SPF (or “open cell”) has a comparatively lower R-value per inch and slightly less air-sealing capability than medium-density SPF (or “closed-cell”), but if your project calls for capabilities of low-density SPF the solution could result in some project cost savings. However, if your project calls for a combined vapor, moisture and air-barrier with higher R-values per inch, or the cavity to fill is not large enough for low-density SPF to reach the specified R-value, closed-cell could be your solution. For particularly challenging geometric installations such as an attic, cathedralized ceiling, mechanical room or crawlspace, SPF’s ability to conform to the shape of the surface it is sprayed to is an unrivalled benefit.
SPF insulation installed on the exterior of a building envelope, or perhaps on tanks and vessels, is typically medium-density (closed-cell) due to its high R-value, water resistance, and durability. In the case of exterior building installation, the SPF typically is covered by building cladding or siding materials. In the case of outdoor tanks and vessels, the SPF typically needs a coating/covering to protect it from damaging U.V. sunlight.
SPF roofing is a high-density (closed-cell) product that does not rise as much as insulation, and produces a very durable, waterproof system. While the SPF easily conforms to the various angles and protrusions of a commercial roof and serves as the waterproofing mechanism, SPF roofs do need to be covered with aggregate or appropriate coatings to protect the SPF from damaging U.V. sunlight.
SPF can be delivered through a variety of equipment, ranging from high-pressure professional contractor rigs, to low-pressure “kits & cans” that are designed to satisfy weatherization or smaller projects. Every product and project will be different so the solutions will be different. It is impossible to predict every scenario where you may want to use SPF as a solution, which is why working with a knowledgeable and experienced contractor is recommended. The flexibility in use of SPF is one of its greatest attributes. It is imperative to consult with the professional contractor in scoping and job planning to properly schedule activities, assure the access to the spray area is unobstructed, and to make sure that the installation meets specifications.
As construction projects ranging from new construction to major renovations, both for insulation and roofing, are typically working on a deadline, construction industry pros relying upon SPF and a professional installer should be conscious of the effect of weather upon the schedule. High winds, rainfall, and cold temperatures can affect the SPF installation process. Subsequently the temperature and moisture content of the substrate receiving the SPF also need to be considered. Working with your experienced, knowledgeable professional SPF contractor will allow these conditions to be adequately addressed and your project to be a long-term success.
For more customer benefits and related information on SPF consider visiting these partnering websites:
With premium performance admittedly comes a premium cost. SPF can be slightly higher in cost than competing inferior insulation and roofing technologies, but your investment is quickly paid-back through exceptional energy cost-savings from the SPF. To further reduce your investment cost, many times federal, state or municipal utilities or efficiency organizations may offer a tax incentive, or other credit for efficiency improvements. Consider the information from these sources and how they may apply to reduce the cost of your project:
- SPFA’s Advocacy page covering residential credits and commercial building tax deductions
- DESIRE Incentive Database
- U.S. HUD Energy Efficient Mortgage Program
- Tax Incentive Assistance Project (TIAP)
- American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE)
Industry Promotion & Outreach
Industry promotion and outreach take many forms at SPFA. From SPFA’s central position we can take your construction questions, interests, challenges and opportunities and turn them into solutions. SPFA is always open to dialogue with industry trade groups, organizations or companies in the construction field with a focus upon delivering consistent, high performing solutions.
SPFA offers information on the energy and environmental benefits of SPF, health and safety of workers, important industry research findings, best practices and appeal of SPF. SPFA provides important industry information to a variety of audiences through our partnerships with builders, architects, general contractors, customers, manufacturer and trade organizations, state and federal audiences. We do this in-person, on webinars, through our industry trade publication Sprayfoam Professional Magazine, through our annual national convention and through our members.
- Coming Soon: SPFA Residential Builder’s Checklist (in cooperation with NAHB)
- For SPFA’s trade publication Sprayfoam Professional, click HERE.
- For SPFA’s annual convention information, including presentations from previous conventions, click HERE.
- To read SPF Success Stories that likely resemble your project, click HERE.
- If you are a construction industry professional and wish to have SPFA deliver (in-person or webinar) one of its AIA-backed presentations to your firm, please request it HERE. The presentations consist of Introduction to Spray Polyurethane Foam, and another entitled Decoding Thermal and Ignition Barriers. AIA-credits available.
- SPFA FAQs
- Find an SPFA Contractor Member
- The SprayFoam Coalition (Partner Site)
- Center for the Polyurethanes Industry (CPI) SPF Health and Safety (Partner Site)
- U.S. Department of Energy
- U.S. EPA
- Air Barrier Association of America (ABAA)
- The Building Performance Institute (BPI)
- Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET)
In the event you still have a specific question, after reviewing the information and consulting with your SPF professional, please submit that question to SPFA Technical Services.
SPFA believes that the path to a healthful, safe, high-quality and performing SPF installation travels through the hands of a knowledgeable, trained, experienced, and ideally PCP-certified professional contractor.