complete spray foam roofing guide for schools

The Complete Spray Polyurethane Foam Roofing Guide for Schools

Greg PalyaSpray Polyurethane Foam Roofing

In this guide, you’ll learn everything there is about Spray Polyurethane Foam roofing for schools!

What You’ll Learn:

  • What a spray polyurethane foam roof is and how much it costs.

  • Potential problems that can happen with spray foam roof installations at schools

  • TPO or SPF: comparing two popular roofing options for schools?

  • What to look for in a roofing contractor

  • And whole lots more!


Who This Guide Is for:

  • You’re the maintenance manager of a school or school district — and you’re curious about spray foam roofing and how it can benefit a school.

  • You’re on the school board — and making important decisions like which roofing option to place on your school district is a very costly and ultra important decision.


Ready? Scroll Down to Start Reading!

Feel free to click on any of the above titles to be taken directly to that section

How Much a New SPF Roof Will Cost?

How much will a spray polyurethane foam roof cost for a school

The price of a commercial building for a Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) roof can cost between $4-$7 per square foot. However, there are minor differences when repairing a school roof that influence the price of the project.

The minor difference in cost is prevailing wage.

Prevailing wage = In government contracting, a prevailing wage is defined as the hourly wage, usual benefits and overtime, paid to the majority of workers, laborers, and mechanics within a particular area. This is usually the union wage.

If your project mandates a prevailing wage, the increase in labor costs could be between 20-30%.

If you’re in Ohio, prevailing wage isn’t required on school roofing projects if they don’t have a project labor agreement.

Your school roofing costs can also be influenced by:

Size of the roof

The larger the school’s roof, the more economical per square foot it’ll cost. Economies of scale starts around 20,000 square feet. Keep in mind if you manage multiple schools in your district, as having roof repairs on multiple buildings can increase efficiency.

Condition of existing roof

Will your existing school roof need a tear off? Based upon the results of a thermal imaging inspection, excessive moisture may be evident, requiring a tear off of the wet roof.

Pro Tip: if your roof has excessive moisture in excess of 25%, a complete tear off and re-roof is the best option for long term performance.

A tear off can also happen if your school already has two roofs. Per building code, the maximum roofs a building may have is two.

Cost of Warranty

There are three types of warranties we offer:

  • Contractor’s Warranty – No expense or less than $1,000
  • Manufacturer’s Product Warranty – Low cost and low coverage
  • Manufacturer’s Full System Warranty – $0.08 – $0.15 per sq.

*These costs are included in the initial $4-$7 per square foot range

Cost of maintenance package

Another impact on pricing for a school district is the maintenance package. Long gone are the days when schools had a dozen maintenance employees ready to tackle any job.

Now, most schools have one maintenance person, who although mighty, would have a difficult time maintaining multiple buildings in a school district.

We offer a few types of maintenance options:

Option One: Includes a visual inspection and debris cleaning. We also make sure all the drainage components are operating properly. This is a very low-cost option.

Option Two: Includes everything in option one AND we inspect all the seams, penetrations and flashings. We’re looking for items that aren’t leaking yet, but could develop into a serious situation in-between maintenance periods.

Option Three: Designed for older roofs showing signs of age. Option three includes everything from options one and two, but also includes a sacrificial coating over some of the roofing areas. In addition, there’s a call-back feature where additional visits for repair don’t cost you anything. This raises the level of accountability for the contractor.

Maintenance packages are optional, but highly recommended. Comparing similar roofing situations, we’ve seen a 30% increase in total cost between a roof that has a preventative maintenance package vs one that doesn’t.

For information on preventative maintenance, please check out our video below:

Important: West Roofing Systems has a full-time service department ready to handle all questions and issues related to your school’s roof.

Budgeting Options for Schools

Typically, schools have a board that allocates a budget to building projects.

Say you have a leak and need your roof looked at. If you didn’t have the budget for an entire new SPF roof, we can break apart the building into sections.

After an inspection, we can tell you for example, the Theatre and Gym roofs need immediate attention.

We want to help you have the best performing roof available, but we also want you to stay in budget with your board.

*Cost ranges are general estimates, each roofing system is unique and costs can vary. Please seek a professional quote for more specific and reliable costs.

3 Problems That Can Happen During a SPF Roof Installation

3 Problems That Can Happen During a School Roof Repair

Have you ever done a repair on something, one you’ve done a thousand times, and find new problems happening?

Let me tell you a story about changing the oil on my car.

I’ve done oil changes on cars before I was ever allowed to drive. However, one time a few years ago, a simple oil change turned into a frantic cleanup of 5W-30.

As I was removing the old oil filter, I accidentally left behind a thin, rubber washer. When I put the new filter back on (with its own rubber washer), the extra washer left a gap wide enough for oil to escape. 

When I added the new 5 quarts in, started the car, and was waiting a few minutes before testing the oil level, I noticed oil coming out from under the car.

Lo and behold, oil was leaking, I was panicking, dad was hollering.

Even with repairs that you’ve done many times, there are still problems that can happen. This brings me back to roof repairs on schools and the issues we’ve faced.

3 Problems That Can Happen During a School Roof Repair

Problem #1 – Pop-up Storms

When tearing off a roof, you always need to be aware of the weather. However, sometimes storms appear even when they’re not on the radar.

This is especially important when repairing roofs over school gyms. Have you ever seen a gym floor that’s absorbed too much moisture?


Lebron James would have a difficult time dunking on this roller coaster court.

To avoid rain on your gym floor, there are a few ways a roofing contractor can cover up your roof as fast as possible.

One way is to tarp the exposed area. Every truck is equipped with multiple tarps in case of an emergency storm.

The second way is to sacrifice SPF (Spray Polyurethane Foam). Since most schools are becoming interested in SPF roofs due to the quick lay down, price and energy savings, a roofing contractor can quickly spray foam to cover an exposed area.

In fact, SPF is laid down 50% faster than other types of roofing systems.

Problem #2 – Summer Installation Window

A problem with school roofing repairs is that there’s a limited window to do the work. Most schools and contractors believe it’s beneficial to have roof repairs done when students aren’t in school.

There are three reasons why:

  • Chemical overspray can occur; exposing material to surrounding property (cars, buses, etc.)
  • Increased safety hazard with roofing vehicles and equipment on site
  • HVAC needs to be shut off and covered (No AC)

At Keystone Local School District in LaGrange, Ohio, teacher’s last day is May 24th. Teachers first day to report back is August 21st. That means the school will only be unoccupied for 12.5 weeks.

With unpredictable weather, it’s important to schedule your roofing projects well in advance so we make sure your project is completed in the summer.  

Problem #3 – SPF Conditions

Another problem with school roofing projects is the weather conditions associated with SPF.

SPF needs to be applied when there is no ice, frost, surface moisture, or visible dampness on the existing roof. In addition, it’s recommended that it’s at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

Another issue with SPF is that the wind speeds need to be considered. We use windshields, but if the wind is north of 25mph, there’s a high chance of overspray. Since the SPF roof is installed by a spray application, there’s a risk of the wind carrying overspray onto surrounding cars and other surfaces.

While this does not pose a health concern, it is a concern for surrounding property.

TPO vs SPF: Which Option Is Better for Your School?

TPO vs SPF: Which Roof Is Better for Your School?

When we meet with building supervisors at school districts, they’re usually stuck on one roofing system…TPO. When we bring up SPF (Spray Polyurethane Foam), they have some questions:

  • Which type is cheaper?
  • Which provides better insulation?
  • Which is faster to apply?
  • Which is better on Tectum?

At West Roofing Systems, we want to make sure that building supervisors have the best information available. For this reason, we created an article that explores the differences between TPO and SPF roofing systems that’ll give you all the information you need in choosing the best roof for your schools.

The Basics


Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO) is a single-ply roofing membrane that is one of the fastest growing commercial roofing systems on the market. TPO roofing systems are made up of a single layer of synthetics and reinforcing scrim that can be used to cover flat roofs. The scrim is heated with a hot air gun that welds the seams together.

TPO Installation

TPO membranes are manufactured in sheets that are 10, 12 or 20 feet wide. TPO has gained industry acceptance with the white-colored, natural, reflective surface to reflect UV rays.

TPO Single-Ply Membrane Roofing


Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) is a combination of two chemicals that are heated and pressurized to spray as a liquid, which expands into a foam, and creates a solid layer across an existing roof.

Quick fact: SPF grows to 30x its size in 8 seconds…and you can walk on it in about one minute.

While SPF roofing is not the most known type of roofing material, the technology has been around since the early 1960s. An SPF roofing system can be used in any climate, and when correctly installed and maintained, can last over 50 years.

Which roofing type is cheaper?

For an average 20,000 sq. foot roof, it will usually cost between $4.00 and $7.00 per square foot in materials and labor to install a typical SPF roofing system. This price range is for an SPF roof of average thickness and building structure.

For an average 20,000 sq. foot roof, it will usually cost between $1.90 and $3.50 per square foot in materials and labor to install a typical TPO roofing system.

NOTE: Pricing depends on variables such as:

  • Does the existing roof need removed?
  • Do cover boards need installed?
  • Are there any existing penetrations?
  • How accessible is the roof?
  • Any much more…

Which roofing type is better for insulation?

An advantage with SPF is that it provides schools with more efficient insulation. This is important because HVAC costs can be high when trying to keep hundreds of students and faculty comfortable.

With SPF being seamless, it has an R-value of 6.7 per inch  (the highest rating of any standard roofing insulation ) vs TPO, which provides no insulation value.

Which roofing system is faster to apply?

Speed is greatly important for school roofing projects. Schools only have 12 weeks of summer vacation without any students or staff around.

With unpredictable weather and roofing contractors scheduling jobs 2-3 months in advance, it’s important for schools to make sure the contractor can finish the job before school begins.

One factor that can increase the speed of a project is the type of material being laid down.

Quick fact: SPF can be laid down 50% faster than TPO.

A 20,000 square foot school, with SPF being laid down around 3,000 sq. ft/day, that’s a 6.6 day project. For TPO, the same project can take around 13.2 days. Add in a few rain outs and your project can take 2-3 weeks.

NOTE: Being able to shorten the project in half saves tremendously on labor costs.

Which is better on Tectum?

If you’re a building supervisor at a school district, I’m sure you know about tectum. Tectum is the type of decking material that makes up most school roofs. Schools especially use tectum over a gym because it’s great for sound control and acoustics.

So which roofing option is better on tectum?

Hands down SPF!

Spray foam allows a contractor to tear off the old roof, get down to the tectum, and spray the foam overtop. No penetrations will be made.

With TPO, a contractor will have to fasten the TPO down with traditional plates and auger style screws, making penetrations in the tectum roof deck. Adhesive TPO is available over Tectum but will have a significant impact on cost. 


The key takeaways are:

  • TPO is slightly cheaper initially.
  • SPF provides better insulation enhancing the life cycle cost of the system
  • SPF can be applied 50% faster
  • SPF is better on tectum (no penetrations)

The 3 Best Qualities of a SPF Roofing Contractor

The 3 Best Qualities of a School Roofing Contractor

The best roofing contractors for schools separate themselves in three ways:

  1. They have a full-time service department
  2. They can budget roofs into sections
  3. They have a long history with other schools in their portfolio

So, the roof is leaking again. You’ve been putting band-aids on the roof for a while now, but it’s time to fix the problem.

Who you gunna call?

The first roofing contractor you’ll probably reach out to is someone local.

When a roofing contractor has to drive hours and hours away to your school, you’re making the labor hours go through the…roof.

Let’s say you find a few close roofing contractors. How can you separate them when the quotes are so comparable?

Today we’ll explain the three best qualities of a school roofing contractor:

Why having a full-time service department is important for schools?

When something is leaking, you need someone there right away. Perhaps there’s a small leak in the bathroom and you have a bucket collecting drops. The students are probably moving it, kicking it over, or dumping it over someone’s head.

When a leak happens, it’s nice to have someone to call to schedule service right away.

Smaller companies won’t have the time to come back to a location for service. They may be on a tight schedule set two months in advance.

A larger company knows leaks happen, and every minute the leak isn’t fixed, other issues can occur.

Why budgeting a roof into sections is important for schools?

Say you have a leak in the gym and another one in the science lab. Does that mean you need the budget to fix the entire school’s roof?

Of course not.

Some companies can break apart your schools’ roof into sections and can focus on the areas that need immediate attention.

We understand school boards allocate budgets to building projects, so if your budget isn’t enough to cover a complete roof repair, find a contractor that can stay within your budget and fix only the immediate needs.

Why having other schools in their portfolio is important?

Nobody wants to be the guinea pig. When choosing between comparable quotes, it would be best to request information from a few schools that’ve had their roof done by that contractor.

If a contractor can’t provide those schools and contact information, you may be project #1.

Other reputable signs you can look for:

  • Do they have before/after photos of school roofing projects?
  • Can they offer a warranty package?
  • Are they properly licensed and insured?


If you’re looking for a turnkey roofing company for your school district, one that hits all the marks from this post, please check out West Roofing Systems, Inc.

We have:

  • A full-time service department ready to answer your call and schedule service
  • We are flexible; we can re-coat, repair or replace your whole roof, or sections at a time that fit within your budget
  • We have worked with hundreds of schools and can provide before/after photos and contact information of proud customers

Case Study: Berea Municipal School District

(click link to learn more)

Spray Foam roof on Berea Municipal School District


If you’re ready to get a free quote for your school system, please contact us and we’ll follow-up ASAP.


About the 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 teach others about spray foam roofing and silicone roof coatings, you can find him on the basketball court or golf course.