spray foam and asbestos

Spray Foam Roofing and Asbestos: Everything You Need to Know

Greg PalyaSpray Polyurethane Foam Roofing

If you’re a price-conscious building owner, you probably wouldn’t buy a big-ticket item, like another building, a pool, or a new roof on your existing building, until you’ve researched all the variables that can happen.

For a new roof on an existing building, one overlooked variable that can greatly increase the price of the project is the identification of asbestos.

Asbestos, as you may know, is a mineral used in insulation, primarily due to its fireproof properties. However, due to its cancer and mesothelioma-causing nature, it needs to be removed or encapsulated when installing a new roof.

If a building owner or an architect requires an asbestos test to be performed before a roofing project, a certified asbestos specialist will need to test if asbestos is currently present.

In this article, we’ll discuss the common questions business owners have with regards to asbestos on their roof.

Let’s begin…


Asbestos and Spray Foam Roofing

If there’s one thing you can take away from the article, it’s this:

A building owner can save 40% or more by fully encapsulating asbestos on their roof with spray polyurethane foam, as opposed to removing it using an abatement company.

How much does it cost for an abatement company to remove asbestos off a roof?

According to homeguide.com, the average cost to remove asbestos is $20-$65 per square foot.

Although this price is for a residence and not a commercial roof, there isn’t much difference between the two processes.

The process to remove asbestos includes setup, removal, cleanup and disposal.

Many specialists have a minimum charge of $1,200 – $1,500 regardless of how big the job is.

You can see using an abatement company is expensive, that’s why if you’re getting your roof worked on, it’s more cost-effective to install spray foam over your asbestos areas as part of a complete roofing project.

How much spray foam is needed to fully encapsulate asbestos?

Depending on what kind of panel it is, as little as ¾ of an inch of spray foam will do the job.

NOTE: spray foam degrades when exposed to UV rays. To counter, two coats of silicone coating will be installed over foam. The thickness of the coating depends on the duration of the desired warranty.

  • For a 10-year warranty, 20 mils of coating is installed.
  • For a 15-year warranty, 25 mils of coating is installed
  • For a 20-year warranty, 30 mils of coating is installed.


What safety issues are there to worry about?

As far as the spray foam installer, there’s no added safety precautions needed than the safety procedures used when spraying foam over the rest of the roof.

As far as asbestos, a roofing contractor needs to be cautious if a panel needs cut. If a panel is cut, that means dust will be present, which is considered friable material.

Friable asbestos is the term used for any asbestos containing material that can be crushed, crumbled, pulverized, or turned to powder with the ordinary force of a human hand.

If friable asbestos is present, you need to use an abatement company to perform that work.

From start to finish, how does a spray foam contractor encapsulate asbestos on a roof?

They start by washing the asbestos panel down with a garden hose. The use of a power washer is typically used to clean a surface before a spray foam installation, but with asbestos present, you could break off flaking chips, thus disturbing it and releasing the harmful substance into the air.

Once the asbestos area is clean after being gently watered down, a typical spray foam installation occurs around both sides of a panel, thus fully encapsulated the structure.

Two coats of silicone coating are installed overtop and your done.

Spray foam roofing and asbestos conclusion

Today you learned that encapsulating asbestos with spray foam, as opposed to removing asbestos with an abatement company, is a great way to reduce the cost of your roofing project.

But did you know that there are many other advantages to installing a spray foam roof, such as:

A common quote that’s used in the spray foam industry is “A spray foam roof is the last roof you’ll ever have to install”.

Want to learn more about spray foam roofing. Here is our Ultimate Guide to Spray Foam Roofing (no information required).

the ultimate guide to spray foam roofing

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.