Spray Foam Roofing – Pros & Cons with Estimations

spray foam roof insulation pros and cons

Foam roofing is not your average insulation and watertight system. It’s like magic in a can, applied with a spray that transforms your roof into a fortress. Picture this: a polyurethane formula sprayed directly onto your roof, expanding into a thick, dense barrier. It’s like armor for your home, isn’t it?

But wait, there’s more! Once the foam has been applied, it takes a few hours to cure before additional layers of protection are added. This airtight seal and insulation layer provide a shield against weather damage, noise pollution, and energy loss. It’s like having a superhero protecting your home, year after year.

Now, let’s talk about the curiosities of foam roofing insulation. Like any superhero, it has its pros and cons. But fear not, we’ll dive into that and get you acquainted with this amazing spray foam roofing before you consider applying it to your place.

Benefits of Spray Foam Roofs

The first and most obvious benefit of foam roofing is its durability. It’s an effective insulation system that also provides superior protection against rain, hail, wind, snow, and other weather conditions. As a matter of fact, it can extend the life of your roof by up to 25 years. That means a lower carbon footprint for you in the long run.

Below are some of the other advantages of installing a spray foam roof:

1- Easy Installation

Fewer roofers are needed to complete the job of applying foam roofing than are needed when installing conventional roofing systems. The product used is also able to spray more quickly over penetrations such as pipes, HVAC units, and curbs – it only takes about two minutes, while conventional roofing methods can take as long as half an hour.

2- Easy Maintenance

With conventional roofs, if water seeps into the insulation and moves horizontally, large portions of the roof will have to be removed to make the proper repairs. However, if a crack forms in a spray foam roof, you just need to cut around the area, dry it off, fill it in with caulk, and then smooth it over.

3- Energy Efficient

Spray foam has a 6.6-inch per thickness R-value, which makes it the highest R-value per inch of any type of roof. The higher the R-value, the less cool or heat can escape the building, which can save on energy bills.

4- Waterproof and Seamless

With a spray foam roof, the absence of seams eliminates concerns about water seepage. It forms a continuous layer, preventing water infiltration throughout the system.

To breach a spray foam roof and allow water entry, a heavy and sharp object would be required, an occurrence that is exceedingly rare. The coating, granules, and 1.5 inches of spray foam provide a formidable barrier against such incidents.

Even if there is a hole or crack in the spray foam, the water will remain confined to that specific area, unable to spread. This is due to the closed-cell nature of spray foam, which inhibits water migration.

5- Renewable

Once you’ve had the roof for a decade or two, you can apply another coating to keep it in good shape. This is when you need to power wash the spray foam to get it clean and then install another coating right over the top of the original roof. During this process, the foam is never touched and doesn’t give up any of its performance.

Problems With Foam Roof Coating

With all of its many perks, there are also a few drawbacks to having a spray foam roof:

1- Overspraying

Due to its lightweight nature, foam can be easily carried away by the wind. To prevent this, roofers need to take precautions by covering nearby cars and other areas, ensuring that the foam does not adhere to them.

If the foam happens to land in unintended areas, roofing contractors can address the issue by utilizing a car detailing service. The cost of this service is typically covered by the contractor. Removal methods include using a clay bar to gently chip away the foam or exposing it to UV rays, allowing it to naturally disintegrate over time.

2- Inexperienced Contractors Installing It

There are many professionals who don’t have any experience applying these types of insulation roofs, which can lend itself to improper application. There are many who just treat each roofing project as a way to test and see if they know how to do it, thinking it’s a simple process.

There are many ways you can distinguish a good foam roofer from a poor one, but the biggest indicator is whether they are certified with the SPFA or the Spray Polyurethane Foam Association.

3- It Must Be at Least 50 Degrees Fahrenheit to Install It

For the successful installation of spray foam, it is crucial that the outside temperature is no less than 50 degrees. Applying it in colder weather can hinder the proper chemical reaction needed, leading to improper foam expansion.

Can mold grow on foam insulation?

Normally, foam doesn’t serve up any snacks for mold spores. But hold up – if foam insulation gets cozy with water or food liquids, it might just become a mold’s happy hour. Don’t worry though, a little detergent, water, and a sponge can show that mold who’s boss.

Spray foam insulation is also considered to be great because, unlike wood or metal, it won’t rot, rust, or deteriorate. So, if you properly spray an area with foam insulation, you can rest easy knowing it won’t become a mold haven.

foam roofing systems

How Much Does a Spray Foam Roof Cost?

Typically, a foam roof will cost anywhere between $4.5 and $7.5 per square foot. This means that if your roof is around 10,000 square feet, you can expect to pay between $45,000 to $75,000 for the entire project.

However, there are various reasons why the price could fluctuate, including:

a)  Location

The farther you live from the spray foam roofing professional you want to work with, the pricier the project is likely to be. If you’re closer to them and they have less distance to travel, chances are it will be more budget-friendly.

b) Height of the Building

If you have a two-story-high roof and it’s simple to access, it will be much gentler on your wallet than if the roof is ten stories above the ground in a metropolitan area where access to the roof is difficult.

c) Existing Roof System and its Condition

If you are working with a rubber roof, you can just use the spray foam right on top of it. But if your roof is held in place using stones or gravel, known as a ballasted roof, these stones will need to be taken away.

Because the roofing layer beneath the stone isn’t completely attached to the insulation, any fasteners or adhesive will need to be utilized to get the layer firmly stuck in place. Only then can the foam coating be installed on top of it.

Furthermore, if your roofing has leaks that allow water to enter the roof itself, it can get into the insulation and saturate it. When this happens, those portions of the roof will have to be removed before the spray foam can be installed. The more of the roof that you have to remove, the pricier you can expect the project to be.

On What Roofing Systems Can You Apply Spray Foam?

Many homeowners and business owners wonder if their roofs can handle spray foam application. The truth is, that some roofing systems are great for spray foam, while others might need a few tweaks to make sure the foam goes on safely.

In the following section, we’ll dive into the most common roofing systems and evaluate their readiness for spray foam.

a) Built-Up Roofs

Spray foam can be installed right onto a gravel surface or smooth built-up roof because the roof is already fully attached to the substrate beneath it.

In order for the spray foam to be installed over a built-up roof with gravel, there is a wet-vac process that should be used to remove the gravel and stones to ensure only a smooth surface is left behind.

b) Metal Roofs

Spray foam is well suited to be applied to a metal roof as well. You may need to apply a rust-inhibiting primer beforehand to prevent the metal from oxidizing if any of it has any rust on it.

The real perk of spray foam for metal roofing is that these roofs have a crimped panel, which can leave open small holes for air and water to get into and out of the building. Once the spray foam has been installed, it turns the roof into one continuous layer instead. This will do well to cover these areas of exposure and prevent water issues in the future.

c) TPO Roofs

You can install spray foam right over a TPO roof, so long as you have installed a cover board over any existing TPO beforehand.

It doesn’t matter if the TPO roof is fully stuck to it or attached mechanically; the cover board will always be necessary when installing spray foam over top of the TPO. It is slippery, so for the best adhesion possible, this board is needed.

d) Modified Bitumen

Spray foam is easy to install over any kind of modified bitumen roofing. Since this type of roof combines in a convenient roll, whether or not you adhere or torch them down, it is ultimately a fully adhered roofing system that does not require a cover board.

e) EPDM Roofing

Spray foam can be installed over any of the three kinds of EPDM roofs: ballasted, mechanically fastened, or fully adhered.

For a ballasted EPDM roof, you’ll first need to remove the rocks and then apply a cove board over it because there is nothing to keep the EPDM roof in place once the rocks are taken away. Finally, the spray foam can be applied.

For mechanically fastened EPDM, you must place a cover board down first before spraying the spray foam. Then, a fully-adhered EDPM roof is fine to simply install the foam right on top of it, given that the roof has aged at least five years.

A Few Additional Tips

No matter what roof you have, it’s important that you hire a professional roofer who is experienced in spray foam application and has the proper licensing to do so. They’ll be able to assess your roof, let you know if it’s compatible with spray foam, and will be able to provide an estimate of how much the whole project costs.

You may also want to consider investing in additional protection such as insulation or sun blockers, depending on your needs and budget. These little extras will help ensure that your building stays energy-efficient and comfortable for the long haul.

The Bottom Line

Foam roof insulation has been gaining popularity for a number of reasons – it’s lightweight, easy to install, and provides excellent thermal protection. Also, the foam material can be sprayed or injected into hard-to-reach places where traditional insulation materials would not work, providing superior coverage that is difficult to get with other types of insulation.

That said, spray foam roofing requires a certain level of skill to install it correctly, so make sure you work with certified professionals to ensure the job is done right. With an experienced roofer on your side, you’ll have no problem enjoying the many benefits spray foam roofing can offer. Plus, once it’s installed correctly, you can enjoy a worry-free roof for many years to come in your home and commercial buildings.

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