A completed spray polyurethane foam roof

The 7 Primary Advantages of a Spray Polyurethane Foam Roofing System

So, you’ve come to the point where you need a new roof and are looking for options. Perhaps fixing leak after leak is becoming a rather annoying part of your job description.

Should you continue the short-term gain of fixing leaks, or should you invest in a more cost-effective, long-term option?

The first question I have for you is, how long until you retire?

The second question I have for you is, how open are you to change?

Change is hard.

And for anyone to change, the clear benefits need to be there.

Let’s get rolling…


Quick definition of what SPF is

Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) for roofing applications is manufactured on the jobsite by mixing two highly reactive chemicals.

The chemicals, A & B, are pumped from separate containers through heated, high-pressure hoses to an internal mixing spray gun.

Polyurethane was first used for roofing in the early 1960’s.

Many changes have occurred in the equipment and chemistry of polyurethane roofing in the last fifty years, resulting in today’s dependable roof applications.


reduce cost of commercial rooofing project

Here are the 7 primary advantages of a spray polyurethane foam roofing system

  • High R-value
  • Renewable
  • Quickly installed
  • Self-flashing
  • Seamless
  • Easy to maintain
  • Proven since the 1960s


Spray foam roofs have a high R-value

Spray polyurethane foam has the highest R-value of any commonly used roof insulation. Here are the average R-values for some common roof materials

  • Spray Polyurethane Foam: 6.6 per inch
  • Metal: 0.00 per inch
  • BUR Gravel: 0.34 per inch
  • BUR Smooth: 0.24 per inch
  • XPS Insulation: 5.0 per inch
  • EPS Insulation: 3.85 per inch
  • Polyiso: 5.5 per inch

R value is the capacity of an insulating material to resist heat flow. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power.

The higher the R value, the less heat or cool air that will pass through. Higher R value = less HVAC use = lower energy costs

Total payback of your new roof usually occurs in less than ten years through savings in heating and cooling costs.


Spray foam roofs are renewable

One of the benefits of a polyurethane roof is its ability to be re-coated.

A properly installed and maintained spray polyurethane foam roof should not require re-coating for 10 to 20 years. The best way to determine when a spray foam roof needs to be re-coated is to measure the remaining coating thickness on the roof and recoat before the coating is too thin to provide U.V. protection.

The first application of coating is usually applied at a thickness of 20-30 mils.

After 10 years, the coating could be reduced to a thickness of 7-10 mils, depending on wear of the roof.

Many coating manufacturers offer extended warranties with each re-coat. This option, along with scheduled maintenance, allows a spray foam roof to be a truly renewable roof system.


Spray polyurethane foam roofs are quickly installed

Spray foam roofs are installed quicker than other roofing systems, due to:

  • Most SPF roofing projects involve little to no tear off
  • Spray foam roofs are spray-applied, meaning they can go around penetrations with ease
  • Spray foam roofs require less material and equipment than traditional roofing systems

Because spray foam is quickly installed, business interruption and labor costs are minimized.


Spray polyurethane foam roofs are self-flashing

Self-flashing refers to spray foams ability to conform to irregular shapes. Watch the video below which shows spray foam being sprayed around a curb:

In the video, it says “It might take a conventional roofer 30 minutes to flash around a curb, spray foam can be applied in about two minutes”.

Other roofing systems, like rubber, will need to be custom cut in order to be installed properly around a curb.

Self-flashing allows spray foam to be applied faster around all penetrations, including:

  • Parapet walls
  • Vents
  • Pipes
  • HVAC units
  • Skylights
  • Drains


Spray polyurethane foam is seamless

A big advantage spray polyurethane foam has over other roofing systems is that it’s seamless.

Being seamless, and therefore monolithic and watertight, avoids traditional single-ply membrane seams that tend to be the sources of leaks.

How do leaks form on a rubber roof?

Seams start to separate over time and allow water to get inside. Also, they can allow some water to get in, it freezes, and when it thaws out, it breaks apart the seam even more.

Wind uplift is also an issue with seams. Wind will eventually get underneath a slightly separated seam, loosen and eventually allow an opportunity for water to enter the building.


Spray polyurethane foam roofs are easy to maintain

Perhaps a sharp tool has been dropped or the HVAC guy planted the HVAC panels in your roof like a javelin.

In order to fix these minor repairs, all you’ll need is a utility knife and some caulk.

Step 1: cut out the defective area

Step 2: dry the area out

Step 3: apply caulk and smooth

That’s it. Minor repairs can be done by in-house maintenance staff.

In fact, here at West Roofing Systems, we’ll take time at the end of the project to show you how easy it is to repair a small incision.


Spray polyurethane foam is proven to be beneficial

Since the early 1960s, spray polyurethane foam roofs have been installed and recoated, strengthening the popular phrase “A spray foam roof is the last roof you’ll ever have to install”.

Multiple roofs that have been installed decades ago are going on their 2nd or 3rd recoat.

In fact, our first example, Brian Chavalia (now in sales and ownership of West Roofing Systems, Inc.), was the master sprayer on a job he did 27 years ago. Now he’s going back for a recoat. Check out the video on Central Village below:


Central Village Apartments in Amherst, Ohio

Initially Installed: 1992

Number of recoats: 2


Playhouse Square in Cleveland, Ohio

Initially installed: 1972

Number of recoats: 3


Sandusky Schools in Sandusky, Ohio

Initially installed: 1980

Number of recoats: 3


Conclusion on spray foam advantages

Polyurethane roofs are installed quickly, resulting in a lower labor cost and less interruption. When considering the many variables in a re-roofing project, the versatility of a polyurethane roof makes it a logical and cost-effective solution.

The spray foam roofing cheat sheet - download now


  • Greg Palya

    Greg Palya is the Digital Content Manager of West Roofing Systems, Inc. He has a B.S. in Marketing from the University of Akron and an MBA in Marketing from Walsh University. You can find him on the basketball court or golf course when he's not trying to teach others about spray foam roofing and silicone roof coatings.

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