Spray foam is commonly used as an insulation material in building construction. It may be used in or around concrete slabs, walls, attics, and other building areas. Each use has its own set of test requirements to ensure that the materials will work as intended.
Spray foam insulation is typically a two-component mixture made of isocyanate and polyol resin and is applied with a spray gun to create an expanding foam that will seal interior areas. This material can be beneficial for weatherization and energy efficiency, so it is getting a lot of attention from organizations and energy conservation advocates. For full qualification, it must be tested and evaluated to standard methods.
Evaluating Spray Foam Insulation to Building Code Requirements
In assessing spray foam insulation materials, experts use standards such as ICC-ES AC377 and ICC 1100, which evaluate properties such as:
- Thermal resistance (ASTM C518)
- Density (ASTM D1622)
- Dimensional stability (ASTM D2126)
- Tensile and/or compressive strength (ASTM D1623 and ASTM D1621)
- Surface burning characteristics (ASTM E84)
- Other fire tests such as room corner burn (NFPA 286), ignition barrier qualification, and fire resistance (ASTM E119)
Depending on the intended use of a particular spray foam insulation material, engineers may also conduct tests for air permeance, water vapor transmission and qualify the material as a water-resistive barrier (WRB).
Experts determine the flame-spread index (FSI) and smoke-developed index (SDI) by conducting surface burning tests of the material. These are done per ASTM E84 and UL 723. A full-scale corner room burn test of non-bearing wall panels may also be conducted per NFPA 286 and UL 1715. There are also other evaluations for spray-applied foam insulation materials used in attic and crawl spaces, where this material may be used for certain types of building-level insulation.
These standards and requirements are used to evaluate spray foam insulation materials to the relevant International Code Council building code requirements. Along with helping specifiers and users ensure that the materials are fit for the intended purpose.