Spray Foam Insulation and Steel Roofing and Siding
Energy efficiency is a hot (pun intended) for steel roofed and/or sided post frame buildings, especially with a rise in popularity of barndominiums and shouses. Spray foam insulation systems have been a product of choice to achieve highly efficient building envelopes.
Of course with this, have come some concerns. I recently posed a couple of questions to Dr. Richard “Rick” Duncan, P.E. Technical Director for the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance (SPFA).
1) Will closed cell spray foam applied to the inside of steel roofing or siding panels cause panel deterioration and/or void warranty of the panels? 2) Can closed cell spray foam be applied to a Weather Resistant Barrier successfully? If so, any special considerations?
“This issue came up about five years ago with the metal building industry. SPFA conducted a study and the results are attached.
Closed-cell naturally shrinks as it cools and cures. It can take about a month for the gases in the cells to come to pressure equilibrium with the atmosphere. When applying SPF to large open areas of metal panels, the shrinkage of the foam can cause some panels to pull inward. We call this oil canning.
Oil canning occurs most frequently on large unsupported panels (about 4’x4’ and larger areas) and on thin gage panels with small ribs. You find these panels mostly on ‘low-cost’ pole buildings but not on larger industrial buildings. For these large, thin panel areas, use picture framing and apply a thin flash coat to minimize oil canning…especially on ground-level walls where oil canning can be easily seen. Our study did not show oil canning on the heavy-duty panels used in larger commercial buildings.
One of the concerns that the metal building industry had was exothermic temperature damage to coatings and primers used on metal panels. A few of the metal panel manufacturers were voiding their warranties because of this concern. Our study measured exothermic temperatures of the panel during spraying and the temperatures were below 150F, which should not affect these coatings.
Our study also looked at using different fabrics applied during construction between the sheet metal panels and the framing. We included Tyvek WRB and non-woven ‘BIBS’ fabric. We found that SPF does not adhere well to the more expensive Tyvek. It does adhere to the lower-cost non-woven. We did see that the foam would pull the non-woven fabric away from the panel by about ½” and eliminates oil-canning. The difficulty with using non-woven fabric is that it must be applied during construction.”
From MCA (Metal Construction Association)’s technical bulletin “Spray Polyurethane Foam Insulation on Interior Surfaces of Metal Panels”:
“Closed-cell foam is recommended due to its water resistant capabilities. Some SPF contractors use a release material such as building wrap or fabric to allow for easier change out of damaged panels, however the use of a release material poses the potential of creating air gaps between the back of the SPF foam and the metal panel. These gaps could allow condensation to accumulate between the SPF and the panel and framing members.”
Continued from yesterday’s blog:
(1) Storage – if you ever believe anyone might ever in the future desire to climate control then provision should be made for making it easiest to make future upgrades.
At the very least a reflective radiant barrier (single cell rather than wasting the money for the extra approximately 0.5 R from double bubble), an Integral Condensation Control (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/03/integral-condensation-control/) or sheathing with 30# felt should be placed between the roof framing and roof steel to minimize condensation.
If a concrete floor is poured (in ANY use building), it should be over a well sealed vapor barrier.
For now we will assume this building is totally cold storage. If it might ever (even in your wildest dreams) be heated and/or cooled include the following in your initial design: Walls should have a Weather Resistant Barrier (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/01/determining-the-most-effective-building-weather-resistant-barrier-part-1/) between the framing and the siding. Taking walls one step further would be ‘commercial’ bookshelf wall girts (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/09/commercial-girts-what-are-they/).
In the roof – have the trusses designed to support a ceiling load ideally of 10 pounds per square foot (read about ceiling loaded trusses here: (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/03/ceiling-loaded-trusses/). Trusses should also be designed with raised heels to provide full depth of future attic insulation above the walls (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/07/raised-heel-trusses/).
Make provision for attic ventilation, by having an air intake along the sidewall using enclosed ventilated soffits and exhaust with a vented ridge.
Any overhead doors should be ordered insulated – just a good choice in general as, besides offering a minimal thermal resistance, they are stiffer against the wind.
(2) Equine only use: Same as #1 with an emphasis upon the ventilation aspect.
(3) Workshop/garage and (4) Garage/mancave/house are going to be the same – other than whatever the client is willing to invest in R value, being the major difference.
Adding onto #1 for the walls the low end would be unfaced batt insulation with a 6ml visqueen vapor barrier on the interior. Other options (in more or less ascending price and R values) would be Mineral wool insulation as it is not affected by moisture (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/03/roxul-insulation/), BIBs (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/bibs/), closed cell spray foam in combination with batts and just the closed cell spray foam (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/07/advantages-spray-foam-over-batt-insulation/).
For added R value and a complete thermal break, add rigid closed cell foam boards to the inside of the wall.
Once a ceiling has been installed, blow in attic insulation.
For (4) a Frost-Protected Shallow Foundation (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/11/frost-protected-shallow-foundations/) with sand on the inside rather than a thickened slab is an excellent and affordable design solution.
For insulation solutions which follow the roof line, the best bet is going to be the use of closed cell spray foam, as it solves the potential condensation on the underside of the roofing and does not require ventilation above.
In most cases, the steel trusses fabricated for post frame buildings are either not designed by a registered engineer, are not fabricated by certified welders or both – so it makes it difficult for me to recommend them as part of a design solution.
With scissor trusses, they can be treated the same as a flat ceiling would be, provided the bottom chord slope is not so great as to cause blown in insulation to drift downhill.