What is Sprayed Polyurethane Foam Insulation?

Quite simply, it is "insulation plus sealant". As a rigid cellular plastic with over 95% closed cell content, Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation acts as insulation, an air barrier and, in some cases, also a vapour barrier. Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation will cut energy costs and improve comfort levels in any building.

What are the properties of Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation (SPFI)?

  • Continuous, seamless, no joints
  • Can fill cracks, voids and holes
  • Adheres to wood, metal, concrete, masonry, almost all plastics
  • Almost totally impermeable to air
  • High insulation value
  • Durability and long service life
  • Can be sprayed overhead, doesn't sag
  • Speedy, quick set, installation
  • Doesn't settle
  • Only thermal insulation which is tested for VOC's
  • Can be used as a water barrier

Where in the envelope is Spray Polyurethane Foam used?

  • Foundations
  • Crawl spaces
  • Walls
  • Header spaces
  • Roofs
  • Ceilings
  • Interior walls
  • Can be used as the primary air barrier material
  • Can be used to connect other building materials together

Who applies SPF?

Only trained, certified and licensed installers can install medium density spray polyurethane foam insulation into buildings, ensuring professional and consistent installations. The Canadian Urethane Foam Contractors Association Inc. uses the SPF Quality Assurance Program to train, certify and license the installers.

The installer must work for a Licensed Contractor who is responsible to ensure all the requirements of the CAN/ULC S705.2 Installation Standard is met and that all safety and building code requires are adhered to.

What are the technical requirements of medium density spray polyurethane foam?

The technical requirements for medium density spray polyurethane foam is outlined in the CAN/ULC S705.1 Material Standard. The physical properties are:

Table 1 - Requirements for Physical Properties
Property Unit Requirements Test Method
    Min. Max.  
Air Permeance (Mandatory material only testing) l/s @ 75Pa - .02 Clause 5.5.1
Air Permeance (Optional system testing) l/s @ 75Pa - .05 Clause 5.5.1
Apparent Core Density kg/m³ 28 - Clause 5.5.2
Compressive Strength KPa 170 - Clause 5.5.3
Dimensional Stability
Volume Change at:        
-20°C % - - 1 Clause 5.5.4
100°C % - +10  
70°C, 97 ± 3% RH % - + 14  
Surface Burning Characteristics
Flame Spread - - 500 Clause 5.5.5
Initial Thermal Resistance - 50mm sample after a minimum of 2 d and a maximum of 14 d at 23 ±2°C m² · °C/W 2.5   Clause 5.5.7
Long Term Thermal Resistance for a 50 mm thick specimen m² · °C/W 2.0   Clause 5.5.8
Tensile Modulus kPa 200 - Clause 5.5.9
Volatile Organic Emissions - Pass - Clause 5.5.10
Water Absorption by Volume % - 4 Clause 5.5.11
Water Vapour Permeance for a 50 mm thick specimen ng/Pa · s · m² - 60 Clause 5.5.12

Note 1:The test methods used to determine the material properties provide a means of comparing different cellular plastic thermal insulations. They are intended for use in specifications, product evaluations and quality control. They are not intended to predict end-use product performance.

What are the advantages to using Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation?

  • It acts as a seamless insulation making it more efficient than any other material used in the industry
  • SPF is airtight which eliminates all air infiltration or exfiltration
  • It is durable and odourless
  • It will not settle or shrink, making it stable
  • Because SPF is light and versatile and has strong adhesive properties, it easily fills difficult to reach places and adheres to most clean surfaces
  • It is quick and easy to install, making SPF an inexpensive alternative to other types of insulation.

Where can I find a contractor?

You can access this information on our website or by contacting us via email or by phone at
1-866-GO-SPRAY (467-7729).

What happens if the contractor does not do a proper job?

All licensed contractors must meet the installation requirements of the CAN/ULC S705.2 Installation Standard and all the installation requirements of the manufacturer. All manufacturers listed on this web site provide a comprehensive Quality Assurance Program which you can contact if you have any questions or problems. The Quality Assurance Program acts as a conciliator to resolve all issues. The Quality Assurance Program investigates any complaints and conducts inspections. If there are any deficiencies from the Standard, the contractor must correct the deficiencies and if he is unwilling or unable to do so, the 3rd party warranty provided under the Quality Assurance Program will correct the problem up to the limits set by the Program.

What properties does an air barrier assembly require and does spray polyurethane foam provide them?

All medium density spray polyurethane foam is an air barrier material at the minimum installed thickness allowed of 12mm. An air barrier assembly must meet all the requirements outlined in the local Building Code. To do so, other materials must be used to "transition" to penetrations and to terminate. Normally a sheet membrane is installed at these transition points then sprayed over. With a declared and tested assembly, spray polyurethane foam provides all the requirements for an air barrier as required by Building Codes.

Is SPF recognized in the National Building Code?

SPFI is not only recognized as a thermal insulation, with the National Standards being referenced right in the Building Code but also SPF meets the requirements for a air barrier material and a air barrier system. SPF, in some cases can provide the Code required vapour barrier. SPF can provide thermal insulation, air barrier system, vapour barrier and drainage plane all in one application when used in cavity wall construction. SPF has one of the highest R-Values per inch of any insulating material available.

Does spray polyurethane foam "off-gas"?

All manufactured materials will off-gas to some extent. Some building products will off-gas in large qualities

Medium density spray polyurethane foam meeting the CAN/ULC S705.1 Material Standard is the only building product that is tested for occupant conditions. The industry has then taken an unprecedented stance and required that all manufacturers meet a maximum limit of 1/100 of the government allowable limit. Manufacturers have met this requirement in less than 24 hours.

Does spray polyurethane foam burn?

Spray polyurethane foam is an organic material and all organic materials burn. Medium density spray polyurethane foam contains a fire retardant so that the flame spread is less than 500 when tested in accordance with CAN/ULC S102 and specimens prepared in accordance with the requirements of the National Building Code.

Fact Sheet for Consumers of Spray Polyurethane Foam