Spray Foam Roofing Pros and Cons

spray foam roofingToday’s blog post will be of interest to both building owners and roofing contractors. We discuss the pros and cons of an increasingly popular commercial roofing system, a spray polyurethane foam roof, and get helpful information from a contractor’s perspective.

In previous posts, we have weighed the benefits of spray foam roofing and some common misnomers about commercial spray foam roofing. But what if we just consider the pros and cons of this roofing system? A certified and experienced spray foam roofing contractor weighed in with his thoughts this week and offered some guidance on the merits and downsides of this roof system type.

To frame this discussion, it is important to note that spray polyurethane foam product is being integrated with Conklin commercial roof coatings for a comprehensive roof system here. It is also important to note how these integrations have led to differently-composed roof systems.

Spray Foam Roofing Systems Integration

spray foam systemsHere are a few ways in which spray polyurethane foam (SPF) has been integrated into elastomeric roof coating systems:

  • Spray polyurethane foam with one coat of a Conklin roof coating product system
  • Spray polyurethane foam with a base coat of roof coating product followed by a top coat
  • Spray polyurethane foam with a base coat of roof coating product, followed by Conklin fabric material and two layers of top-coat roof coating product system

The last roof system is the most powerful and potent, as it is composed of many layers of fully adhered, monolithic roof coating and spray foam product. This is the system we will be examining.

Pros of Spray Foam Roofing

pros spray foam roofingThe multi-layer Conklin spray polyurethane foam roof offers:

  • Incredible tensile strength and durability highly comparable to that offered by a multi-layered built-up roof system
  • Consumer application and value in all 50 states; the reflective top coat helps in saving on cooling costs and the SPF insulation keeps heat trapped inside during wintertime
  • Potential product lifecycle of 40+ years or more, so long as the roof is properly maintained and the foam insulation is constantly protected by roof coatings
  • Completely seamless, completely waterproof, and fully adhered roofing protection to the existing roof substrate on which these products have been applied
  • Huge wind resistance and enhanced building structural support provided by the many layers of coating product and SPF application
  • Virtually eliminates potential for water travel throughout a roof system, as punctures in the roof caused by hail or other foreign objects stay localized to just the area it affected
  • SPF insulation is easily applied around protrusions, such as flashings, and around more-challenging angles up against curbs
  • Capable of being applied to virtually any type of existing commercial roof system

Cons of Spray Foam Roofing

cons spray foam roofingThere are a lot of contractor-facing “drawbacks” to a spray foam roof system. It is useful for building owners to know these, too, so they are aware of the full details required for the system’s proper application.

  • Has to be applied with exactitude; spray foam roofing has rigorous specifications and requires steady expert hands for effective application
  • From a contractor standpoint, it takes a lot of time to fully master this highly-specialized system
  • Specialized training is needed so the spray polyurethane foam contractor puts down the spray polyurethane foam correctly
  • Initially costlier than other roofing systems; however, it pays for itself much more quickly than even “typical” white roofing systems with the energy savings it produces
  • More potential for system failure can be more present due to contractor carelessness or shoddy application, due to the exact specifications and careful application required
  • Being hard to remove in some cases (however, if an old flat roof has an initial layer of 1-inch ISO board installed over it before the foam application, the foam system can be carved into squares and then removed)

It should be noted, however, that building owners will derive tremendous benefits from this system in the form of roofing protection and huge energy savings, among others. These drawbacks may be greatly outweighed by these two benefits alone.

Things that Cause Spray Foam Roofing Failure

Pros & Cons of Various Roofing Systems

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  • Bird pecking
  • Shoddy spray foam application
  • Unscrupulous contractors applying foam that is not dense enough (three-pound foam is needed, when some contractors apply two-pound)
  • Foam being applied in temperature conditions that are not optimal or specified
  • Foam being exposed to the sun
  • Waiting too long to coat foam layer with roof coating product or primer layer on top
  • Putting a light coat on top of spray foam layer, which quickly deteriorates
  • Putting roof paint on top of spray foam layer, which will quickly leave foam exposed
  • Old roof not having positive drainage, or has sitting pools of water on its surface (not good for spray foam application)

Once spray foam has been applied as a base layer, it is important for the top layers be applied within 2-12 hours after the spray foam application. Ideally, the application of the top layer of product over the foam will be done in the same day as the foam application itself.

This “built-up”, fabric-reinforced spray foam roofing system we have been looking at is thick enough where the foam will be much better protected from bird pecking. Also, there is a granular coating product available to Conklin contractors that can be combined with coating products so bird pecking is negated.

As the listed causes of spray foam roofing failure show, many instances of spray foam roofing failure can be attributed to shoddy contractor work or application. Therefore, many of these instances can be avoided by choosing an experienced, quality-minded spray foam roofing contractor to do the job.

Concluding Thoughts on Spray Foam Roof Systems

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For contractors, having the proper training and knowledge is essential. Choice Roof Contractor Group has a strategic partnership with Intech Equipment & Supply, one of the premier spray foam equipment providers in the United States with 6 full-service branches across the country. Experienced mentors are also on hand to help contractors navigate the ins-and-outs of this great roof system. For more information, call Intech Equipment & Supply at 706-474-1657 or view the presentation at https://www.choiceroofcontractors.com/intech-presentation.

Building owners and facility managers, on the other hand, can be fully confident of this roof system’s lifecycle, ongoing benefits and performance value, and stringent protection standards. All Conklin roofing systems are backed by non-prorated warranties. Plus, Conklin roofing products have been installed on over 2 billion square feet of roofing throughout the United States, and they have been a top choice in commercial roofing for over 40+ years.

Should you be interested in training with our nationwide support group, give us a call at 800-670-5583.

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Written by: Ian Myers
Ian Myers
Ian was the very first team member brought on by the original co-founders of the Choice Roof Contractor Group to assist with nationwide growth. Since then he has written 120+ blog posts and provided excellent support to the roofing contractors in the group. Through his multiple roles in the commercial roofing industry, he has gained tremendous knowledge in the sector.