Spray Polyurethane Foam Can Help Make Buildings Stronger, More Durable

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Spray Foam Coalition notes that spray foam provides insulation and air sealing benefits that can help strengthen buildings and make them more durable during the upcoming hurricane season.

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Hurricane season is underway and building owners along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts and other areas affected by severe storms should take a look at spray foam’s structural benefits.

With the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) continuing to predict above-normal activity for the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season, many coastal homeowners and other building owners are looking for ways to protect their properties from wind and water damage. While spray polyurethane foam’s (SPF) insulation and air sealing benefits are well known, many building owners may be unaware of its other properties that can help strengthen buildings and make them more durable.

“Hurricane season is underway and building owners along the Atlantic and Gulf Coasts and other areas affected by severe storms should take a look at spray foam’s structural benefits,” said Peter Davis, chair of the Spray Foam Coalition, an organization that is part of the Center for the Polyurethanes Industry of the American Chemistry Council. “Closed-cell spray foam can improve a building’s strength and durability in several ways.”

Strengthening Homes
When applied to the interior side of a roof, closed-cell SPF can increase a building’s resistance to wind uplift during severe storms. A study conducted at the University of Florida in 2007 found that applying closed-cell SPF under a roof deck provides up to three times the resistance to wind uplift for wood roof sheathing panels compared to a conventionally fastened roof.

Building studies conducted in 1992, 1996 and 2007 have also shown that applying closed-cell SPF to wall cavities can increase racking strength (i.e., resistance to horizontal forces like high winds) versus those without SPF.

Closed-cell SPF itself can also resist water damage. The material can be cleaned and dried, which is why the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has classified closed-cell SPF as an insulation material that can resist flood damage. Using SPF can provide better moisture control to help resist the formation of mold in walls, and under floors and ceilings.

Making Roofs More Durable
As a roofing material for flat or low-sloped roofs, closed-cell SPF conforms and adheres to the surface on which it is sprayed. When applied to the roofing substrate, SPF is seamless and serves as its own flashing over joints, which can eliminate the ability of water to seep through fasteners and seams. Spray foam can be applied in a sloped manner to allow water to easily drain off.

When the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) examined buildings following Hurricane Katrina in Pascagoula, Miss., it found that buildings with SPF roofs performed remarkably well. The SPF kept the roofs intact and prevented moisture from entering the buildings, and it also protected the roofs from hail and debris. Only one of the buildings with an SPF roof had notable damage and, in that case, it was minor, affecting a mere one percent of the roof.

For more information about SPF and its many benefits, visit http://www.whysprayfoam.org.

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The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the business of chemistry. ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer. ACC is committed to improved environmental, health and safety performance through Responsible Care®, common sense advocacy designed to address major public policy issues, and health and environmental research and product testing. The business of chemistry is a $770 billion enterprise and a key element of the nation's economy. It is one of the nation’s largest exporters, accounting for twelve percent of all U.S. exports. Chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development. Safety and security have always been primary concerns of ACC members, and they have intensified their efforts, working closely with government agencies to improve security and to defend against any threat to the nation’s critical infrastructure.

The Spray Foam Coalition (SFC) was formed in December 2010 under the American Chemistry Council’s Center for the Polyurethanes Industry (CPI). The SFC is a dynamic organization of companies that produce and sell polyurethane spray foam insulation systems and the chemicals and equipment necessary for their use. The SFC champions the use of spray polyurethane foam in U.S. building and construction applications by promoting its benefits, providing a forum to help shape public policy on issues critical to the industry, and supporting the safe manufacture, transport, and application of spray polyurethane foam.

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Marie Francis
Spray Foam Coalition
+1 (202) 249-6514
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