Blog: Facing weather's fury with SPF

Posted on May 21, 2013

May 21, 2013 -- BASF would like to offer its sincere condolences to the victims of the Oklahoma tornado. Although this blog post was published in April, an email regarding the post went out on May 21 and we would like to express our sincere regret as to the timing of this email. It was not our intention to cause any further suffering to those affected by the tornado.

Already well known for its contribution to energy efficiency savings in high-performance homes and buildings, BASF spray-applied polyurethane foam (SPF) is also gaining recognition for its ability to improve the disaster resiliency of homes and businesses.


In fact, as BASF SPF Business Manager Mike Sievers notes below, closed-cell foams are even recommended by FEMA for homes in flood-prone areas, as its closed-cell construction means it does not absorb water, unlike drywall and fiberglass insulation.


Here, we sit down for a quick chat with Sievers to find out more about this versatile polyurethane product, and how it's being used in the United States today.


Q: SPF has always been known for its high-performance insulation properties, but in recent years, it's gaining attention in a new way. Can you tell us more?


MS: We've seen a lot more interest in spray foam following the severe weather events that have affected the United States over the past few years. Hurricane Sandy alone did so much damage in the North East: people on the coast saw a tremendous amount of water coming into their homes. Exacerbating the situation was the cold snap that followed: wet basements suddenly froze, freezing pipes and causing multiple problems. People who had never considered SPF before were suddenly asking about it, knowing that if another weather event occurred, their homes would be better prepared.


Find out more about SPF and hurricane-proof homes


Q: Was this interest driven by homeowners or the local contracting communities?


MS: It was really twofold. SPF contractors were out there spreading the word, but more importantly, FEMA qualifies spray foam as a flood damage-resistant material. As a seamless, closed-cell layer in the building envelope, SPF can withstand prolonged contact (72 hours) with water and is the only insulation you can leave in the home after a flooding event.


Download: Flood Damage-Resistant Materials Requirements


Q: Are SPF's disaster recovery-related benefits equally applicable to residential and commercial buildings?


MS: Yes: its characteristics are equally effective for industrial, commercial, institutional or residential structures; wherever added strength, water-resistant performance and the ability to withstand high winds and high water situations is required.


Q: Are there any other severe weather events that SPF can help mitigate the effects?


MS: Yes: hail. Commercial, or "flat," roofing is very susceptible to hail damage and we've seen several very costly from an insurance standpoint hail events in recent months. Spray foam offers higher compressive strength and can literally "bounce back" from hail damage better than a traditional roofing system. An SPF roof is fully adhered to the structure, offering double the wind uplift resistance of other roofing systems and giving it a much better chance of staying attached in the event of high winds, tornados or hurricane-related storm gusts. SPF roofing systems offer some of the best warranties in the industry when it comes to severe weather events.


Download: National Roofing Contractors Association white paper: "Hail Damage to Roofing; Assessment and Classification"


Q: What's the number one thing that people don't know about closed-cell SPF?


MS: Most people don't know just how versatile this product can be: not only can it mitigate the effects of water, hail or wind-related weather events, its seamless application offers higher R-values than traditional insulation and increases the strength of walls and ceilings. BASF also works with several highly respected companies in the roofing industry to promote and support the use of SPF in the United States for residential and commercial construction, giving us significant reach in the construction community as well as valued knowledge and on-the-ground feedback.