Education

Choosing the Right Manufacturer

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As demand for spray foam insulation grows, so does supply. There are new SPF manufacturers popping up every year, including non-US-based companies. Even some companies who once competed with SPF suppliers by selling other forms of insulation have updated their business models and gotten into the spray foam insulation market. Everyone wants a piece of the energy efficient, builder and resident-friendly material known as spray foam. With more competition comes a wider range of quality and a deeper selection, so it’s imperative for architects, builders, general contractors, homeowners, and building owners to do their homework before choosing a brand.

Each manufacturer formulates their brands/products differently, thus each brand is different than that of another company. They have different attributes, different R-values, different qualifications, certifications and ICC reviews, and different customer reviews/reputations. Bottom line is, some are better than others, and the same goes for manufacturers. There are three phases to shopping for spray foam insulation:

Choosing a Manufacturer

There are a number of questions to ask when comparing spray foam insulation brands.

  1. How long has the company been in business? Does it have a good, solid, verifiable track record producing and marketing quality SPF insulation?
  2. Does the company specialize in SPF, or is SPF only one insulation type they market?
  3. Do their products have ICC-ES reviews? And are they certified for the use you need—for example as a water barrier, or an air barrier, etc.?
  4. Is the company in good standing with the spray foam industry community? In other words, is it an ENERGY STAR member, member of the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance (SPFA), a member of the American Chemistry Council’s Center for the Polyurethanes Industry (CPI), a member of the US Green Building Council (USGBS), etc.? These memberships matter. They say, “We’re a company in this to make the industry better and progress SPF as a building product.” These memberships say, “We are involved, we spend out time and invest in the industry. We lead.”
  5. Does the company have a national presence with distribution centers around the US and applicators in every state?
  6. Does the company have a good-to-stellar reputation for product consistency, in-time delivery, and technical support within the industry?
  7. Does the company have a product-specific training program and a formal certification program for trade contractors?

The Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance has a PDF compendium of spray foam technical, safety, contractor certification and installation information that is continuously being updated as new formulas are submitted to independent laboratories for rigorous testing.

Choosing a Brand

Seek out products/brands that meet the following criteria:

  • Great reputation and established (more years the better) track record with customer use
  • Moisture vapor retarder
  • High yields
  • High Closed-Cell content (for Closed-Cell foam)
  • Air barrier-ABAA certified
  • Good dimensional stability
  • International Building Code
  • International Residential Code
  • ICC-ES reviews
  • API fire safety guidelines for use of rigid polyurethane and polyisocyanurate foam insulation in building construction
  • Works well at low and high temperatures

Remember, the more of the above individual features the brand has the better the brand.

If you’re seeking a brand for commercial application make sure the brand also meets the following:

  • FEMA flood resistance
  • Water resistive barrier
  • Approved in UL fire resistive assemblies

Product Testing and Certification

Top spray foam insulation products and brands are scientifically tested in real-world application environments by the companies that formulate, manufacture, and market them. Some companies go the extra mile and are tested by reputable third party labs like the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, managed by the US DOE. Reputable SPF manufacturers turn to the ICC, whose codes are used by all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and many federal agencies for technical evaluations for code compliance, providing regulators and construction professionals with clear evidence that products comply with codes and standards. ICC-ES certification is a clear sign the company and its products are trustworthy, and a good way to differentiate the brand you need.