Why Foam Insulation is the Perfect Solution for Your Flat Roof

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A high percentage of buildings that are built in the Bay Area today feature flat roofing, and flat roofing insulation in the Bay Area is an increasingly popular, cost-effective upgrade for many property owners. Flat roofing has specific qualities and properties which mean that some forms of flat roofing insulation perform better than other solutions.

Why Foam Insulation is the Perfect Solution for Your Flat Roof - Foam Roof Solutions | Serving the Bay Area & Sacramento

An Air-Tight Barrier

To begin with, flat roofs are considered to be more difficult to completely seal against air leakages. In this area, spray foam roofing (SPF) insulation performs really well in comparison to other solutions because, when it’s cured, SPF insulation forms an airtight barrier that significantly reduces the amount of external air that can enter or exit a building via its flat roof.

Why you Should Increase the R-Value of your Roof

When considering the various flat roofing insulation solutions on the market today, one very important metric to look at is the R-value. The R-value essentially indicates the performance of a particular form or insulation. The higher the R-value, the greater the level of insulation. Spray foam insulation has a very high R-value, which therefore means it offers a high degree of insulation. With flat roofing, a high R-value is particularly crucial because flat surfaces are often exposed and subjected to a higher concentration of direct sunlight and damaging UV rays.

Water & Condensation

Condensation is also a very real concern with flat roofing and spray foam flat roofing insulation minimizes the risk of condensation forming. Moisture and damp can be very damaging to flat roofing, and spray foam is very efficient at blocking the penetration of water and moisture vapor.  

A Cost-Effective Solution to Energy-Loss

The long-term financial benefits of installing spray foam roof insulation are significant. The energy saved on excessive use of heating and cooling appliances means lower utility bills for years to come. SPF insulation is also incredibly durable, which means it can potentially last for decades. Because it helps protect flat roofing from the elements, flat roofing insulation in the Bay Area can also help extend the life of flat roofing.

The Impressive Eco-Credentials of SPF Roofing

Property owners living in the Bay Area are no doubt increasingly aware of how important the issue of environmental responsibility and sustainability have now become. Spray foam flat roofing insulation in the Bay Area is considered to be an eco-friendly insulation solution due to its long lifespan, the low amount of wastage it produces when installed and eventually replaced, and manufacture and installation which has minimal impact on the environment.

Ventilation & Flat Roofing Solutions

The concept of ‘hot roofs’ and ‘cold roofs’ describe temperature conditions within roofing spaces. Hot roofs feature insulation that’s applied to the top layer of a roof, which means that the roof space is completely insulated, and therefore closely aligned with the temperature and humidity levels of the main internal living space of a building. Ventilation is more difficult to achieve with a hot roof, however, spray foam roof insulation forms an air-tight seal which prevents moisture from accumulating in roof spaces.

A cold roof, on the other hand, has insulation applied to the ceiling of the top storey of a property, essentially separating the main interior from the roofing space above it. With this method of flat roofing insulation, the roof space much more closely aligns with the current external temperature and moisture level. Cold roofs therefore have a lower efficiency rating, and whilst they can be easy to ventilate, a lack of an air-tight barrier means that moisture can accumulate in cold areas.

Spray Foam Roofing VS the Most Popular Alternative Solutions

Fiberglass Insulation – Fiberglass insulation is an alternative form of insulation that’s suitable for flat roofing. It is popular because it’s affordable, and is widely available. It’s also lightweight which means it can be applied to flat roofing without fear of the roof caving-in.

There are drawbacks with Fiberglass insulation however, chief among them being that it’s very difficult to properly seal Fiberglass, and therefore can result in both air and moisture penetrating it, which is why it has a lower R-value than spray foam roofing. Fiberglass can also be messy and labor-intensive to install, and fiberglass can become compromised when exposed to moisture over time.

Rigid Boards – XPS / EPS rigid boards are a common form of flat roofing insulation in the Bay Area. The reasons for its popularity include its high resistance to water absorption, its high availability, and a relatively low-cost installation. Rigid boards are also durable, being made of mineral wool, and so can last for a long time before they need to be replaced.

However, the R-value of rigid boards is considerably lower than spray foam roof insulation, and it may need to be layered-up to achieve the desired level of performance, which means it may not be as cheap as initially thought. The fact that rigid boards require non eco-friendly materials means that they are also not considered as a sustainable option in the long-term.

Cellulose Insulation – Cellulose insulation is deemed to be highly suitable for flat roofing and is considered to be a much more eco-friendly option than rigid boards, for example. Cellulose does need to be given a vapor barrier and appropriate sealing, otherwise it is prone to moisture infiltration. Cellulose insulation can outperform rigid boards in terms of its thermal insulation value, and because it’s a very dense material, it has a tendency to remain rigid. Cellulose can also form a tighter air barrier than Fiberglass insulation, but does need to be sprayed in order to achieve this level of performance.

The drawbacks of Cellulose insulation include the fact that it can absorb water quite easily, which makes it degrade. It is also labor-intensive to install too, certainly more so than fiberglass or rigid boards.

Perlite Insulation – Perlite can be used as a form of flat roofing insulation in the Bay Area. Perlite is lightweight, hence its suitability for flat roofs where structural load is a crucial factor. Perlite is also non-combustible, which means it performs well in the event of a fire. Perlite is also fairly good at resisting moisture too, and because it is a compound that originates from volcanic rock, it’s an eco-friendly option that produces low levels of carbon emissions.

The advantages of Perlite insulation do come at a cost however. Perlite has a low R-value when compared to the other forms of flat roofing insulation listed above. Perlite is also labor-intensive to install because it typically requires mixing with other materials, such as cement. Perlite also has a tendency to shift over time, which can create gaps in which moisture and air can then penetrate.

Roofing Assessment for SPF

Before the application of spray foam roofing, a qualified SPF contractor will assess the condition of your roof and quote for any necessary repairs prior to the application of foam. Application can be given at any time of the year but it is preferable to apply SPF during warmer, drier weather.

The first process for an SPF contractor will be to thoroughly clean and prepare the top surface of the existing flat roof. The foam is then applied with a gun in liquid form, which quickly dries to form a smooth impenetrable layer. As the foam dries it expands to fill craps, crevices and small gaps in the surface of the flat roof. Once it’s dry, a final protective coating is sometimes applied which enhances UV protection.

The whole process typically only takes a day or two with minimal disruption, and a professional contractor will take away waste materials and ensure the entire area is left clean.

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