can you walk on a spray foam roof

Can You Walk on a Foam Roof? 6 Questions (+ Answers)

 

We hear this question all the time, “Can you walk on a foam roof?”. One would certainly be skeptical considering it is foam, a relatively soft material.

What good is a foam roof if you can’t walk on it?

Facility owners need to get on the roof often to inspect HVAC units, clean off debris, and various other reasons.

In this post, we’ll provide the answer to our main question, but also include 5 other related questions about foam roofing you should know.

  • How soon can you walk on a foam roof?
  • Can the type of shoes you wear damage a foam roof?
  • I’m anticipating lots of foot traffic; will my foam roof be safe?
  • Will any damage caused by walking on the roof cause a leak?
  • If a hole gets poked into my foam roof, how is it repaired?

 

6 Questions and Answers About Walking on a Spray Foam Roof

Question #1 – Can you walk on a foam roof?

Yes.

Spray foam that’s used for roofing is much stronger than the foam that’s used for insulation or between walls.

In fact, the foam that’s used for roofing is closed-cell and has a density of 2.5-3.2 pounds per cubic foot. The closed-cell foam used for insulation has a density of 1.5-2.4 pounds per cubic foot.

What about weight and compression?

Foam used for roofing has a compression strength of 50-60 Pounds per Square Inch (PSI).

Quick Fact: The pegs your refrigerator is on has the same compression strength as foam used for roofing. Each one of the pegs that your refrigerator rest on exerts a pressure of 50psi, therefore, the foam used for roofing can withstand a refrigerator sitting on it. 

 

Question #2 – How soon can you walk on a foam roof?

You can walk on a foam roof 1-2 minutes after it’s sprayed.

 

Question #3 – Can the type of shoes you wear damage a foam roof?

Yes.

Your girlfriend with her 5-inch stilettos, they will stick right into the foam.  

Your facility manager with steel toe boots that have super course treads (you know the ones made for mountain climbing or riding a horse) …same thing.

The course treads won’t go through the foam, but it could wear away at the protective coating that goes over spray foam.

So what shoes are safe to wear on a foam roof?

  • Tennis shoes
  • Normal work boots
  • Anything with a softer sole

 

It really depends on how aggressive you are on the roof. If you’re moshing around like you’re at a Metallica concert, you might have some problems.

 

Question #4 – I’m anticipating lots of foot traffic; will my foam roof be safe?

For roofs anticipating lots of foot traffic, walkways can be installed to guide anyone who needs on the roof.

Photo of a spray foam walkway developed to guide a technician to the HVAC unit.
Photo of a walkway developed to guide a technician to the HVAC unit.

The walkways define a path that’s been strengthened to withstand the increased amount of foot traffic.

How is the walkway strengthened?

A roofing contractor will use double the thickness of protective coating and granule application or use a fluid-applied material designed to withstand the concentrated foot traffic.

 

Question #5 – Will any damage caused by walking aggressively on the roof cause a leak?

No.

A problem building owners will have is that the HVAC guys will show up and walk across the roof without regard to creating mechanical damage. They think nothing of it and go along with their day.

Quick Comment: We’ve seen HVAC panels jabbed like javelins in foam roofs.

The holes (and slices) will cause damage and fill up with water during the next storm.

Will this cause a leak?

No, but if neglected, it can cause a problem down the road.

The important thing to note is if there’s going to be traffic on your roof, you want the contractor who installed it to take a look 2x/yr. People aren’t careful with your roof and you need that peace of mind.

 

Question #6 – If a hole gets poked into my foam roof, how is it repaired?

  • Grab a knife and cut out the defective area
  • Make sure the damaged area is clean and dry
  • Apply caulk/sealant into the hole and smooth out with a putty knife

 

Any roofing contractor will have the materials and expertise available. These repairs are made as part of a scheduled roofing maintenance program.

The walking end

Anyone would assume that foam is weak, but after today, I hope I’ve strengthened your perception. Foam is very safe to walk on as long as it’s not abused and neglected.

If you’d like to learn more about spray foam roofing, please download our essential guide that’ll cover:

 

Download Today: The Essential SPF Roofing Guide

Author: 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. When he’s not trying to increase website traffic, you can find him on the basketball court or golf course.
1 Comment
  • Hi Greg, this is a great blog post.

    I’ve never thought of the consequences to foam roofing, this has really opened my eyes.

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