The Science of Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation

There is a LOT of science involved in the spray foam insulation industry, from the chemistry in formulations, to the processing parameters during installation, to it's affect on building science. Here is a short version using the basis of the scientific method ...

 

OBSERVATION / QUESTION

What is spray foam and does it work?

 

RESEARCH

One word.....INTERNET. Here you are surfing the Big Kahuna, the largest database of information in the world. Spend an hour and you will no doubt get the good, bad, and ugly. Which is great! However, real world experience is what we consider to be the best research you can do. Ask your neighbor or co-worker if they know anything about spray foam insulation. Ask if they have ever used it or know someone who has. Ask about their experience.

 

HYPOTHESIS

Spray Foam is a better way to insulate.

 

EXPERIMENTATION

Spray Foam Insulation has undergone an abundance of testing over the years. Manufacturers often use organizations such as ASTM (Amerian Society for Testing and Materials) for the standards and methods to test for specific criteria such as density, flammability, thermal resistance, air and moisture permeance, just to name a few. Here are several of the more common and important ASTM tests and their average results for spray foam:

 

ASTM D-1622 - Density

 

ASTM C-518 - Thermal Resistance (Result commonly known as R-Value)

 

ASTM E-84 - Flame Spread and Smoke Development 

 

ASTM E-283 - Air Permeance

 

ASTM E-96 - Moisture Vapor Permeance

 

CONCLUSION

When compared to traditional insulation such as fiberglass, the data supports the hypothesis that spray foam insulation is a better way to insulate a building. It's testing results and the common results from real life applications suggest that spray foam is the way to go!