With the launch of a new website called Insulation Institute the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association (NAIMA), not only aims to educate the industry on the key benefits of fiber glass and mineral wool insulation, but it also appears to be taking aim at spray foam insulation.

Besides an article on the global insulation market, and one about three projects that won green building awards, other articles include: Spray-on insulation a Highway for Termites; and Homeowners Claim Spray-in Insulation “Remains Toxic.”

Spray Foam Problems

Then too, within the foam insulation industry itself, there has been movement afoot to institute more certification of those who install spray foam and an effort to educate the public on selecting spray foam contractors. The primary reason chiefly cited for problems with spray foam installations is installer errors and untrained contractors doing the work. The types of errors that can happen include:

  • Not mixing with the correct temperatures
  • Putting the foam on too thickly
  • Not ventilating the workplace adequately
  • Installing under damp conditions
  • Mixing done unevenly

When foam isn’t installed properly there are odors such as rotten fish, and foamy and chemical smells. Homeowners in Florida ended up leaving their homes after claiming to experience illness following the installation of spray foam, and a couple in Pennsylvania has taken legal action because of what they call health hazards from the toxicity of the insulation even after it cured. The spray foam industry claims there is no toxicity to the product once it is cured and the EPA only has warnings related to the materials as they are being installed.

Avoiding Contractor Woes

For general contractors though this could be a source of liability exposure when they sub out the insulation portions of jobs. The Spray Foam Alliance recently launched a certification program that includes insulation certifications for assistants, installers, master installers and project managers. The association also maintains a searchable directory of members as does the Insulation Contractors of America, although neither appears to necessarily help you to find a certified installer. Words to the wise are to do a thorough vetting of spray foam contractors, just as you would any other, and know enough about the process to be able to assess the work as it progresses. When in doubt, you can also hire consultants who will check the job quality.

Fiberglass insulation is the most widely used across the globe with 43% of the market in 2011, according to Transparency Market Research. The spray polyurethane foam (SPF) industry is projected to grow at 13% per year from about $800 million in 2013 to $1.1 billion in 2015, or about a 6.5% CAGR, while fiberglass is expected to grow at a CAGR of 8.9%, 2012 to 2018. Still, the projected global insulation market in 2018 is estimated to be $56.68 billion so even if spray foam insulation doubles again between 2015 and 2018, it’s still only going to be four percent of the overall insulation market.

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