Guidance to Installers in Choosing the Right Spray Foam

Originally published by: Sprayfoam.comMarch 1, 2019

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It’s rarely a good idea to go at it alone, and success is seldom achieved solely through individual efforts. In sports, every champion is supported by a team and the same goes for highly successful spray foam contractors. Success in the spray foam industry is influenced by numerous factors and those companies who use all of the resources available to them are far more likely to thrive than those who operate without a team. Every spray foam application is a battle against time, weather, and all the challenges we attribute to Murphy’s Law.

In laying a foundation for success and in planning for the unforeseeable, SPF contractors should always carefully consider which spray foam supplier they have in their corner. Outlined below are the Seven Rounds defining the right partnership for running a championship business:

ROUND 1: Product

When you look at product performance, you can look to cost, but the true cost is the installed cost. How much did it cost in material to produce the board feet that I am selling? High-yield products obviously end up costing you less to install, and the supplier in your corner has a choice to make:

Do they want to invest in the resources and technology to produce a high-yield product? Or go the cheaper route; selling a cheaper product that requires the contractor to use more product? A good supplier will invest in product development, pushing performance innovation with contractor success as their goal. The end result is cutting-edge spray foam that lowers the overall installed cost of each job, adding more profit per job.

While product yield is important, the most critical decision facing the contractor today is whether to use spray foams that follow the industry accepted Appendix-X fire test or the alternate Oxygen Depletion method. Let’s compare the two methods in detail.

In one corner, Appendix-X. In the other corner, Oxygen Depletion.

Appendix-X Approved Spray Foams:

  • Need no additional coatings, saving time and money by eliminating a costly return trip.
  • Carry no special building requirements or restrictions.
  • Require no special safety messages to homeowners.
    - Are backed by the supplier and fire safety officials.  

Oxygen Depletion Spray Foams:

  • Require the builder to construct the attic space in a specific way.
  • Prohibit popular vertical attic access doors, like you might find in a bonus room over a garage
    - Require all annular spaces around skylights, can-lights, and any other substrate penetrating installations to be foamed.
    - Require all flex duct in the attic to be sprayed with SPF (which voids the flex duct warranty) or have a special controller installed in the attic that requires two professional inspections per year.
    - Require special detailed CAUTION signs to alerting the homeowner that no modifications are allowed, and that the attic cannot be used for storage.

Adding to these comparisons, it is vital to note that if a fire starts in an attic that was insulated using the Oxygen Depletion method, and a homeowner or firefighter opens the attic door, oxygen can flow into the attic to feed the fire. The result could be a violent backdraft. On the other hand, there is documented evidence of Appendix-X approved foams preventing fires from spreading into the insulated space, preventing further property damage, and allowing occupants such as an HVAC tech or plumber more time to escape. 

Once again, who you choose to have in your corner is critical. There are SPF products available today that pass the Appendix-X test uncoated, minimizing the cost to the contractor and the potential liability associated with products that require specific attic configurations. The right supplier develops their products with the safety of the end user and the success of the installer in mind.

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