Why You Should Not Use Polyurethane Foam Roofing for a Commercial Roof Repair

Learn Why SPF Roofing Is Rarely the Right Choice

Polyurethane foam roofing has become a popular material to use for commercial roof restorations and repairs. The material is naturally insulating, relatively straightforward to install, and on the surface seems like a suitable method for restoring roofs of just about any construction, thanks to the material’s ability to mold and adapt to any shape.

Unfortunately, polyurethane foam roofing rarely makes for a reliable commercial roof repair, particularly in a region like the Mid-Atlantic where rain tends to be commonplace and moisture levels are fairly high. At Moser Roofing Solutions, we’ve too often been called in to address emergency commercial roofing situations caused by polyurethane foam roofing that failed disastrously. If you’re considering polyurethane foam roofing to restore your commercial roof, here’s why we rarely—if ever—recommend this material.

Why Is Polyurethane Foam Roofing Popular?

When polyurethane foam roofing (also called SPF, or spray polyurethane foam) first arrived on the market, it seemed to many like an ideal roofing solution. SPF roofing quickly gained popularity due to its straightforward installation—the material could simply be sprayed on over the existing roof to restore it. SPF is also commonly used in buildings as insulation, and as a roofing material this was seen as a major benefit for helping maintain the temperature of commercial buildings.

The Many Drawbacks of Foam Roofing

Unfortunately, SPF roofing became far too popular and started to be seen as a miracle, one-size-fits-all solution suitable for any roofing situation. This is far from the truth, however. Here are just a few of the major drawbacks of polyurethane foam roofing.

Not Suitable for Moist Climates

Polyurethane foam roofing is a poor solution for commercial buildings in moist climates. During installation, SPF roofing needs several days of perfectly dry weather in order to set up properly. The roof substrate also needs to be completely dry before installation. If not, the foam coating will trap moisture beneath it, resulting in mold, rot, and poor air quality within the building. 

In addition, if the surface tension of a foam roof is broken, water will penetrate and begin to collect. This will likely go unnoticed until the foam coating becomes completely saturated, at which point the only option is to replace the roof. Careful installation may prevent the first issue, but the second is difficult to avoid because foam roofing is…

Highly Vulnerable to Foot Traffic

Walking on a roof should always be kept to a minimum, but most commercial roofing materials can weather the foot traffic needed to maintain HVAC systems and other roof-mounted equipment. 

Unfortunately, this is not true of polyurethane foam roofing. SPF roofing is extremely vulnerable to foot traffic and other impacts, which often leave tiny punctures and cracks in the surface tension of the foam. These cracks are notoriously difficult to find and repair—and as mentioned above, the problem is likely to go unnoticed until it’s far too late.

Weak Against Thermal Shock

All roofing systems must be able to withstand some amount of expansion and contraction due to temperature swings. However, despite its insulating properties, foam roofing is rarely installed at a thickness that measures up to building code for thermal shock. 

This is not a major problem in areas with fairly consistent temperatures and weather, but any resident of the Mid-Atlantic region knows the temperature can swing wildly from day to day by as much as 50 or 60 degrees. These swings can cause major damage to the underlying roof structure, and SPF roofing does not provide adequate protection.

Rarely Accompanied By Necessary Maintenance

Any commercial roofing system will benefit greatly from a comprehensive commercial roof maintenance plan. But regular maintenance is especially necessary for a material like polyurethane foam roofing that is so vulnerable to major moisture issues. 

Sadly, most roofers that push SPF roofing as an ideal restoration option do not offer comprehensive maintenance to go along with it. This is because while SPF foam installation is profitable for the roofer, they rarely want to maintain the roof due to the myriad issues that are so common for this material.

Already Have a Foam Roof? Moser Roofing Solutions Can Help!

While polyurethane foam roofing was seen early on as an ideal solution that would add years to the life of many commercial roofs, this is rarely the case for roofs in Pennsylvania and the Mid-Atlantic region. Foam roofing works well in dryer climates like the Southwest, but commonly leads to roof failures in our region.

If your commercial building already has a SPF roofing system installed, Moser Roofing Solutions can help! If the foam is still in good condition, we can provide regular inspections and maintenance to avoid future failures. Otherwise, we offer professional roof replacement services that will ensure your next roof is built with the best materials and highest-quality workmanship in the industry. Contact Moser today!

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