Commentary on the Code

Spray Foam Kits

Spray foam kits are not referenced in the National Building Code of Canada as thermal insulation materials. As such, special approval from the authority having jurisdiction would need to be obtained.

The National Building Code lists the requirements for thermal insulation for homes and buildings in 5.3 and in 9.25.2.

The requirements for thermal insulation is listed in Clause 9.25.2

1) Except as required in Sentence (2) thermal insulation shall conform to the requirements of g) CAN/ULC S705.1, "Thermal Insulation – Spray Applied Rigid Polyurethane Foam, Medium Density – Material – Specification"

Currently there are no spray foam kits where the manufacturer claims that they meet the requirements listed in CAN/ULC S705.1.

The appropriate standards for spray foam kits is CAN/ULC S710.1 Standard for Thermal insulation – Bead-Applied One Component Polyurethane Air Sealant Foam, Part 1: Material Specification for one component spray foam kits and CAN/ULC S711.1 Standard for Thermal Insulation – Bead-Applied Two Component Polyurethane Air Sealant foam Part 1: Material Specification for two component spray foam kits. The issue here is that the material standard has been developed mainly as a sealant foam standard and then as a thermal insulation. In these standards, the material has been addressed as "beads" of various sizes and not as a solid material.

A requirement in CAN/ULC S710.1, CAN/ULC S 711.1 and CAN/ULC S 705.1 is that volatile organic compounds shall be tested in accordance with CAN/ULC S 774 Standard Laboratory Guide for the determination of Volatile Organic Compound Emissions from Polyurethane Foam and the amount of time required for the indoor air concentrations to reach 1/100 of the TLV for any VOCs be declared. This is an extremely important test to be conducted as this is a health and safety issue for the occupants of a home or building. Simply put, no one can say that the material does not off-gas VOCs without doing the proper testing.

It is important to note that many spray foam kits advertise that there material has been tested in accordance with ASTM E 84 Standard Test Method for Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials. That test method has no relevance in Canada. That test is a requirement of the United States codes whereas the National Building Code of Canada requires that foamed plastic be tested in accordance with CAN/ULC S102 Standard Method of Test for Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials and Assemblies which in turn, because of the results of the CAN/ULC S 102 test results, requires that the material be tested in accordance with CAN/ULC S127 Standard Corner Wall Method of Test for Flammability Characteristics of Non-Melting Building Materials. Keep in mind that there are no correlation between the test results from ASTM E 84 test method and CAN/ULC S 102 test method. If a test result, obtained from ASTM E 84, is around 25, then you could expect when exactly the same product was tested in accordance with CAN/ULC S 102 that the test result would be in the 350 range. So in Canada do not use ASTM E 84 test results and do not try to correlate ASTM E 84 with CAN/ULC S 102.