Using Spray Foam Insulation to Boost Durability and Efficiency of Mass Walls

Article provided by Potomac Communications Group.

Building energy codes and high-performance construction practices for commercial and public building projects continue to call for increased energy. And for structures with block or concrete mass walls — a popular choice for schools, hospitals and many office buildings — creating an energy efficient and tight building envelope can be a challenge.

While mass walls are known for their sturdiness and durability, they can be prone to moisture intrusion and air infiltration that may reduce their effectiveness and compromise durability. But the use of closed-cell spray polyurethane foam (ccSPF) on the exterior of these walls can help meet client expectations for energy efficiency while helping to maintain durability.

SPF Continuous Insulation

SPF Continuous Insulation in Masonry Cavity Wall. Illustration courtesy of Icynene, Inc.

This is because in addition to providing a high R-Value* (approximated at 6.5 at one inch thickness) insulation, ccSPF also provides moisture protection, vapor control and air barrier protection. It can be continuously applied to the structural concrete or masonry block wall, ensuring there are no gaps for air and moisture to enter, and it can then be covered by an exterior finish, such as a brick veneer. When finished, a ccSPF exterior creates a wall appropriate for just about any climate zone, improving efficiency, facilitating flexibility in design, addressing thermal bridges and shifting the dew point in a wall to help avoid condensation and other associated moisture issues.

This insulation can also provide an important cost benefit,* and not only from lower energy bills down the road. This is because of ccSPF’s ability to serve as a water and air barrier, which most other insulation systems require installing separately. So with its great versatility, ccSPF is a great pairing for mass wells: boosting energy efficiency, creating better heating and cooling in buildings, reducing building costs and simplifying design.


* Savings vary. Find out why in the seller’s fact sheet on R-values. Higher R-values mean greater insulating power.