There are two main types of spray foam to consider: open-cell and closed-cell. Open-cell spray foam has a lower R-value per inch and because of this, typically a lower price tag. The soft, low-density material is used for interior applications. Its high permeability allows for moisture to pass through, which contributes to bi-directional drying of the assembly, but it may not be ideal for all applications or climates. 
Note: The practice of foam insulating the attic has raised eyebrows in the building industry because "standard" roofing techniques call for the attic to be ventilated; however, in a vented attic situation it will become approximately 130 degrees in the summer. There's no reason for an air-conditioning and vent-ductwork to have to work in that type of severe conditions. By applying Icynene right on the underside of the roof deck, the severe temperatures no longer exist in the attic. In short, the attic is now a "conditioned" space of the house that is just as comfortable as any other room in the home. This is called a "Compact Roof", which means you can frame right up against it. The one drawback of using expanded foam on the inside of the roof is that this will cause the temperature of the shingles to rise, but how much is not yet known. And how much damage a rise in temperatures could cause is debatable.
This high R-value of 4.45 at 1 inch, polyurethane insulation expands to seal cracks, gaps, and voids in attics, walls, crawl spaces, and ceilings. Agribalance is a three-quarter pound density foam that reduces air leakage by improving energy efficiency, and reducing moisture intrusion and outside contaminants such as dust, dirt, and allergens. As a result, builders can generally install smaller, more energy-efficient HVAC systems and achieve similar, or superior comfort compared to traditionally insulated structures which require a larger, less efficient HVAC system – resulting in higher energy costs.

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When choosing a waterproofing and sealing product, we must see to it that we can easily use and apply it using simple tools, including a squeegee or a paint roller. With ease of application, we can be certain that we can achieve hassle-free application and smoother and more attractive finish than other products could give. So when reviewing the products we have featured above, we have made sure that they are easy to apply.

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Roof Coatings should not be confused with deck coatings. Deck coatings are traffic bearing - designed for waterproofing areas where pedestrian (and in some cases vehicular) traffic is expected. Roof coatings will only waterproof the substrates but will not withstand any kind of on going use by people or vehicles (such as walkways, patios, sundecks, restaurants, etc.).

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The roof must be thoroughly cleaned, and allowed to dry thoroughly. This is a critical step to ensure a successful coating application. Be careful not to damage the lap seams. Care should be taken when pressure washing not to disturb the integrity of the underlying roof membrane particularly where there are adhered seams. Refer to the specific coating manufacturer you are using for their specific requirements for roof preparation.
Amanda previously has worked as a breaking news and crime reporter, TV news producer, and editor in Flint and Detroit. Throughout her career as a journalist, she has won several awards from the Detroit Chapter of Society of Professional Journalists and the Michigan Press Association. As part of the RetroFoam of Michigan family, Amanda uses her experience as a journalist to write content that will help educate homeowners on the benefits of foam insulation. When Amanda isn’t writing, she’s spending time with her husband and rescued huskies. She also loves knitting, making art, cooking, and hosting dinner and a movie night for friends and family.
Open-cell is also known as half-pound foam. It has an R-Value of 3.5-3.6 per inch, and its density is bout 0.5 pounds per cubic food. Low-density foams like these are made partially from raw biological materials Carbon dioxide or water is also used in the makeup. Open-cell uses far less material than closed-cell, but its R-Value is lower. Also, open cell requires a vapor retarder (like gypsum wallboard) and is riskier when used for roof sheathing. It's not highly recommended that you use open-cell insulation if you live in a cold climate unless you have that extra barrier. You should also compare how much money you spend versus how effective the open-cell insulation is wherever it's installed.

There are several types of reflective roof coatings that impart varied reflectance rates/ values. Typically, the reflective coatings are what are commonly referred to as white coatings and there are also aluminum coatings typically used with asphalt. Highly reflective white roof coatings are typically comprised of acrylics, urethanes, silicones, SBS, SEBS, and other types.
RE: my June 12 post...We went ahead and had the attic sprayed with a Soy-based product. Stayed in a hotel for 3 nites. Still smelled a little bad but that's gone away over time. I'm very glad we didn't use the other foam as even that much outgassing of a petrochemical could have sent my wife to the hospital. Unfortunately, the spray crew didn't speak English(at least not to me) and were kinda lazy, so they ended up spraying over some can fixtures from the kitchen below that were not insulation-contact rated. So I hired an electrician to come out, pull down the cans, pull out what he thought was an appropriate amount of foam to create a big enough air space and then re-install the cans. I billed the firm for the electrician plus an extra night we had to stay in the hotel and they paid, no questions asked. Guess they knew they had screwed up.  

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The guys who sprayed my attic were trained and certified, but I later found out, too late, that they had no experience and my attic was the first they'd ever sprayed. I was also never told to vacate my house for any length of time, and so I (and my pets) were in the house the day they sprayed and the entire time the off ratio foam was filling my home with horrendous vapors. The company kept telling me that it was a good job and I had nothing to worry about, even after I'd had 2 other experienced sprayers from 2 different companies visually examine the foam and confirm that large areas appeared to be off ratio. The 3rd sprayer from yet another company, was also outraged because the company who did my attic had failed to vacuum up all of the old cellulose insulation, and he also noticed areas where the foam was shrinking or pulling away, and this was not even 5 weeks after the spraying.  

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Yes, you're right that all of the problems mentioned above are related to the installer. I didn't try to hide that and even used the word 'installer' in two of the four headings. I can see how you'd think that the title is misleading, but in the end you can't separate spray foam insulation from its installation. Some people have the mistaken impression that if you get spray foam in your house, your home will outperform all others. My point here is that that's not true.
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These coatings contain various types of acrylic polymer, and are typically formulated to help extend the coating’s life and improve durability. Acrylic coatings are available in a number of colors but are most commonly used as white reflective coatings. Thanks to its durability and low cost, many contractors and facility managers believe this to be the best roof coating. http://kvsprayfoam.com/images/KV-Spray-Foam-Denver.jpg
I don't know if it's common or uncommon, but installing a layer of rigid foam above your roof sheathing in order to interrupt thermal bridging is always a good idea, and is preferable in all respects to a roof assembly without any rigid foam above the sheathing. If you decide to install rigid foam above the roof sheathing, you shouldn't use closed-cell spray foam under the sheathing; either use open-cell spray foam (which is vapor-permeable) or a fluffy insulation like cellulose, mineral wool, or fiberglass (any of which will allow the roof sheathing to dry to the interior).
Roof coatings made with acrylics, urethanes or asphalt soften under the stress of ponding water or snowpack. Eventually, these roof coatings will bubble and peel away from the substrate, leaving your roof vulnerable to leaks, rot, and decay. However, GacoRoof’s 100% silicone formulation is designed to stand up to whatever the elements dish out. Silicone will withstand areas of ponding water without softening, bubbling or peeling from the substrate. Acrylic, urethane and asphalt roof coatings decompose and wear away from the stress of harsh sunlight, UV rays, and freeze-thaw cycles.

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If you don't have the patience to slowly fill the void with spray foam through holes drilled in one of the studs, you could (if you were an experienced carpenter) use a Sawzall to remove one of the studs and re-frame the corner as a two-stud corner. Then you could either insulate the void with a fiberglass batt or simply present the two-stud corner to the spray-foam contractor as an accessible corner.

Heatlok Soy 200 Plus®, is our high-performing, versatile spray foam insulation for commercial and residential construction. Our unique formula incorporates recycled plastic bottles and renewable oils to create our high-performing, closed-cell spray foam insulation. Heatlok Soy 200 Plus has a high R-value of 7.4 at 1 inch, and a density of two pounds. This polyurethane insulation combines multiple control layers into a single application, saving both time and money in construction costs. With our innovative technology, Heatlok Soy 200 Plus is developed with 14 % renewable and recycled content, and is the ideal choice for commercial, residential, and multi-family construction.


Allison--would be very interested in your take on the GHG issues of foams, which have received lots of smart commentary recently. To highlight a few: architect Jesse Thompson's comments on Tom's Good vs Bad post on Energy Circle, the very thorough piece by Alex Wilson on Green Building Advisor and Michael Anschel's cautionary diatribe on Remodeling.  http://kvsprayfoam.com/images/KV-Spray-Foam-insulation-Denver-Colorado.jpg
While coatings may potentially stop minor leaks, the roof should be properly repaired and dried prior to coating application. Coatings may be able to seal pinhole leaks, which are leaks not visible to the naked eye. If the roof is leaking, the roof leak will need to be identified and repaired prior to any recoating; do not expect the coating to find and seal the leaks.

One of the best ways to achieve it is to use the Heng’s rubber coating that can protect it from the elements, including sleet, wind, rain, and snow and UV rays. The product also does well in keeping our roof protected from dirt, leaves and twigs. With such protection received, our roof won’t degrade and we prevent ruining our recreational vehicle investment.


I employed a company to insulate my three story house in 2011. They started Insulating it in August of 2011...They said it would be a 3-4 day job. They installed it in 0.5"-8" lifts all in the same cavity, this left burned insulation and voids. They removed what they told me was the bad insulation and in the process cut many electrical wires. They fixed this. They then reinstalled too thick again in some spots and removed again. They then installed it for a 3rd time. The areas that I thought were good are now separating from the structural members leaving voids. As of October 2012, 1 year and 2 months of dealing with the contractor I told them I want proof that what has been installed carries a warranty or I want my money back and I will fix the problems myself. They have yet to provide me with this warranty. I have spent many hours in the house looking at what is bad and they need to fix. I am frustrated, 14 months of additional rent due to their negligence. I would like to know how I can get proof that the product carries the manufacturers lifetime warranty, or has it been installed improperly throughout the entire house. Desperately awaiting your response.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggLAUsiuI_o&app=desktop
A. You can use closed-cell spray foam that way if you want, although you should realize that the spray foam will prevent the roof sheathing from drying inward. This approach should only be used if the roof sheathing is bone dry, because it will never dry when sandwiched in this manner. Most building scientists would prefer to see fiberglass rather than closed-cell spray foam under the roof sheathing in this type of assembly.
Roof coatings can add 25 years to the service life of a roof and reduce the amount of discarded roofing materials that end up in landfills. The infrared image on the right shows 175 °F (79 °C) on the uncoated (black) section of the modified bitumen roof. The coated (white) section is 79 °F (26 °C). Field studies have shown that cool roof coatings can lower rooftop temperatures and reduce air conditioning bills.
There are several types of reflective roof coatings that impart varied reflectance rates/ values. Typically, the reflective coatings are what are commonly referred to as white coatings and there are also aluminum coatings typically used with asphalt. Highly reflective white roof coatings are typically comprised of acrylics, urethanes, silicones, SBS, SEBS, and other types.
This tropic heat actually is the cause that the steel structure, which most roofs in that part of the world are built on, expands and contracts all the time. By doing so, the sun-battered steel structure causes the roof tiles to dislodge and slowly creates small openings between the roof tiles, through which rain water can run into, creating leaks that can cause much damage to plastered ceilings and electric wiring.

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While coatings may potentially stop minor leaks, the roof should be properly repaired and dried prior to coating application. Coatings may be able to seal pinhole leaks, which are leaks not visible to the naked eye. If the roof is leaking, the roof leak will need to be identified and repaired prior to any recoating; do not expect the coating to find and seal the leaks.

What do you mean by "our AC units require fresh air ventilation"? Fresh air doesn't come from the attic. If there's an atmospheric combustion appliance in the attic, such as an 80 AFUE furnace, then you shouldn't be encapsulating the attic anyway. If that's the case, you don't want spray foam on the roofline at all. You can either change out the furnace to a sealed combustion unit or do your insulating and air-sealing at the flat-ceiling level.
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