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BS* + Beer

Residential Spray Foam Applications

Information aimed at getting spray foam installations right to optimize the product's properties

Climate-conscious builders prefer to use foam with relatively low global warming potential, such as EPS and polyisocyanurate instead of XPS. They will, therefore, spec hydrofluoroolefin (HFO)-blown spray foam rather than HFC-blown. Photo: Justin Fink

This episode of the BS* + Beer Show features Henri Fennell talking about spray foam. The information is primarily targeted at pros—both spray foam installers and other tradespeople who want to be educated around the topic; he also arms homeowners with questions to ask of potential installers—perhaps the most important being a request for Certificates of Insurance including specific coverage for pollution, which addresses issues related to indoor air quality when spray foam goes wrong. With approximately 60 slides/photos in tow, Henri hits on many subjects including: his work on polyurethane foam, injection fill for cavities, advantages of closed-cell foam, tips for hybrid closed- and open-cell foam applications, cure periods, mitigating risks to protect IAQ, the criticality of following manufacturers’ instructions, field tests, substrate compatibility, and much more.

Enjoy the show!


Henri Fennell is a building enclosure specialist and architect with over 40 years of experience in energy conservation design, products, and services. His work with polyurethane foam materials began with energy-efficient demonstration projects during the energy crisis of the 1970s. His background includes positions as a practicing architect, a building enclosure contractor, and a building envelope remediation and commissioning consultant. Since the early 1980s he has been involved in the design and construction of what are now called micro-load buildings, including a net-zero energy research structure in Antarctica.

The BS* + Beer Show schedule

The next show is on July 11 from 6-7 p.m. ET.

Use this link to register for The BS* + Beer Show


Kiley Jacques is senior editor at Green Building Advisor.


  1. Expert Member
    Michael Maines | | #1

    I heard from a lot of people that they found it to be a valuable show to watch. Even going 90 minutes instead of our usual 60 minutes, there were still many slides and many questions to get to, so we are planning part 2 for Thursday, August 1.

    Our next show will be July 11, with guests Ross Trethewey and David Hazel talking about what's new with air source heat pumps.

  2. Expert Member

    Good show. Henri convinced me he knows how to safely install foam, but didn't do much to allay my fears that many contractors don't, or that the situation will change soon.

    There are some industries - like aircraft and automotive manufacturing - where the complexity of the product, and the consequences of errors attract scrutiny and demand high levels of training. In contrast, though the effects of poor spray foam installations can be irremediable, I don't ever see the necessary training or oversight being mandated to avoid them. That's simply not how the building trades work. Until the foam mixes themselves become less subject to installation errors, the risk is going to persist.

    1. Expert Member
      Michael Maines | | #3

      I agree, Malcolm. His presentation was not what I expected; in conversations with him, he is generally pro-foam, and we didn't want the show to be a debate about whether foam is good or bad, but how to do it properly. His presentation and comments did the work on its own to show just how complicated a system it is.

  3. oldaltnew | | #4

    Spray foam, even with the newer less harmful blowing agents, is still terrible for the environment. Currently, spray foam is the "easy button" that designers and builders continue to press to get impressive R values out of a thin layer of material.

    Choosing spray foam is making a selfish decision; it values your home's performance at the expense of our shared well-being. What if every home used spray foam insulation in their new house or renovation? Yes, the energy used to heat and cool those homes would diminish, but it would take decades to overcome the huge upfront atmospheric damage done by the chemicals released in the production and installation of spray foam.

    I know I'm speaking to my peers here - smart, concerned, and well-intentioned designers, builders, and homeowners - but please don't ever call yourself a "climate-conscious builder" if you are using spray foam to insulate entire wall and roof assemblies. Save the use of foam and spray foam for the most difficult-to-treat intersections and transition conditions in renovation projects.

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