Since homeowners, construction professionals, and do-it-yourselfers have asked the question “how to do it better,” spray polyurethane foam (SPF) has often been the answer. Whether determining how to make a home more energy efficient, to improving building strength and durability, and to helping lower energy usage, SPF offers a highly effective solution.
SPF is a spray-applied plastic that is widely used to insulate buildings and seal cracks and gaps, making the building more energy-efficient and comfortable. SPF insulation is known to resist heat transfer extremely well, and it offers a highly effective solution in reducing unwanted air infiltration through cracks, seams, and joints. SPF’s long track record of insulating and consistent performance is why so many choose to have it installed.
Energy Efficiency Up, Energy Use Down
SPF plays a valuable and effective role in helping meet energy efficiency goals. SPF not only offers one of the highest R-values per inch, but it also works to seal homes – all with one product. Gaps, holes and air leaks—which can all be prevented—can make energy needs unnecessarily high and let valuable resources, such as conditioned air, go to waste. Air leaks waste up to 40% of the energy used to heat and cool a single family home. SPF however helps stop air leaks, acting as an air barrier and sealing cracks and gaps, keeping home owners’ energy needs down. In fact, if each of the 113 million single family homes in the United States used SPF, Americans could save up to $33 billion in energy needs each year. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star program estimates that by adding insulation and sealing air leaks, people can save up to 20% on their monthly energy bills.
And it’s not just about thermal insulation and air sealing the nooks and crannies on the inside of your home. “Cool roofs” are roofs designed to maintain a lower temperature than traditional roofs. Light in color and reflective of sunlight, they allow heat to escape, instead of absorb it. SPF applied to the roof of a home or building can provide similar performance when topped with a protective, reflective coating. Along with reducing your air conditioning needs, the roof is more protected, potentially extending its lifetime.
It’s What’s On the Inside that Counts
SPF can improve indoor environments beyond helping to keep temperatures consistent throughout the home and making them more comfortable. Sealing a building’s air leaks prevents drafts from windows, doors, attics and floor boards, but also works to minimize mold and mildew growth, reduce sound transmission, reduce pollen and dust levels, and prevent insect infestations where it is applied. A combination of open- and closed-cell SPF can help maximize noise reduction. Sealing gaps with SPF can provide a barrier against pollen and dust, reducing the entrance of external allergens for households with allergy suffers. Using SPF to block insects from entering can be especially useful in high peak insect seasons. All of this on top of controlling moisture in a building, which is one of the key variables that can lead to mold and mildew growth.
In An Emergency, SPF Can Help
While SPF can’t prevent natural disasters, it can help protect your home against them. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) classifies SPF insulation as highly resistant to floodwater damage: “These materials can survive wetting and drying and may be successfully cleaned after a flood to render them free of most harmful pollutants.” SPF can even help during a hurricane. In one study, a roof deck insulated with SPF demonstrated an ability to withstand wind speeds of a Category 4 hurricane. SPF attaches the roof deck to the structure, helping to prevent the roof from blowing off.
A Smart Decision
SPF is well-studied and is subject to robust regulatory controls and stewardship programs. Most SPF is applied by trained professional contractors following safety precautions, and wearing the proper protective equipment when installing spray foam. After the SPF is sprayed and fully cured, the materials used to make it are inert and nontoxic, according to the EPA.
SPF continues to prove itself to be among the most efficient and protective solutions for a home or building. Its multifunctional nature allows buildings and homes to be more durable, comfortable and appealing. With just one product, SPF insulates, seals against air leaks, and improves strength, saving time during construction, increasing comfort, making building maintenance easier and increasing the resilience and durability of the structure. It’s no wonder why so many people choose it.
 A 2007 study conducted by Dr. David Prevatt at the University of Florida’s Department of Civil and Coastal Engineering examined closed-cell SPF’s ability to increase the structural integrity of roof assemblies in high wind events like hurricanes.