Does Spray Foam Need a Thermal Barrier Coating?

Does Spray Foam Need a Thermal Barrier Coating?
Does Spray Foam Need a Thermal Barrier Coating?

Spray foam insulation is a common material in building construction, and using it properly isn’t always easy. Spray foam goes hand in hand with thermal barrier coatings, with each material playing a key role in fire safety standards.

Does spray foam need a thermal barrier coating? Let’s dive into the topic below so that you can keep your building design safe and compliant.

Understanding Thermal Barrier Coating

Before we dig into the specifics, we need to explain the concept of a thermal barrier coating. In the context of insulation, a thermal barrier coating is a material applied over another to protect it from the spread of fire and to keep its surface temperature low.

This is particularly relevant when it comes to spray foam insulation, which is highly effective in slowing the spread of flames but can still pose fire risks if unprotected. Now, let’s break down the codes and regulations to consider when using these materials.

The Role in Fire Protection and Building Codes

The primary function of a thermal barrier coating is to add a layer of resistance against the acceleration of a fire, particularly in interior spaces. The International Residential Code (IRC) and the International Building Code (IBC) have stipulated thermal barrier requirements to enhance fire safety practices in residential and commercial structures.

While the general consensus may seem to be that spray foam insulation always requires a thermal barrier coating, there are specific cases where this may not be mandatory. Requirements may vary between local codes, but generally, thermal barriers are necessary between storage and living spaces, as opposed to areas where someone isn’t living day to day.

There are exceptions depending on your building materials. For instance, section 2603.4 of the IBC outlines how masonry and concrete structures sometimes won’t require thermal barriers.

Staying Compliant With Codes

Knowing when spray foam needs a thermal barrier coating is critical because, in many cases, it does. Always refer to the current local and international requirements for your needs so that you can stay up-to-date on what’s necessary. For example, at Flame Seal, our spray foam thermal barrier meets the requirements of IBC 803.1.2.1, IRC R316.6, and more.

The application of a thermal barrier coating serves crucial purposes beyond mere compliance with building codes. It acts as an indispensable layer that protects the spray foam from damage due to human activity and forms an essential part of an efficient insulation system. Always apply a thermal barrier coating when necessary to create a compliant structure.


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