More than just insulation | House & garden

The primary load-bearing structures of your home are the walls.

In timber frame construction, the walls are compressed by the downward force resulting from the combined weight of the roof, including roof trusses, decking and shingles, and anything on top of the roof such as rubble or snowfall. In addition, wind exerts a lateral force on the walls of your home, potentially distorting their vertical frame with a force called “shear” by construction scientists.

All building law requirements stipulate that wall units are built in such a way that they can withstand these forces. Despite the implementation of these requirements, walls that only meet the minimum requirements can be prone to movement (creaking, shifting, shaking, etc.) during strong wind events such as tornadoes or hurricanes.

High-density, closed-cell, spray foam insulation can reinforce exterior walls when molded into stud cavities.

Closed cell spray foam adheres to both the siding and wall studs to improve the overall structural integrity of a wall assembly. By installing spray foam, an outer wall becomes stiffer and therefore more resistant to pressure and shear. Hence, it can be described as having greater “stud strength” than a typical wall assembly. (

Research by the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) has shown that walls installed with closed-cell spray foam are up to 300% stronger than walls installed without it.

Wall structures with and without spray foam insulation were tested in a study. The two outward-facing building materials examined included vinyl siding over 15 pounds of construction paper and textured plywood siding. All of the wall panels were paneled with half an inch of drywall on the inboard side with the studs 16 inches apart in the middle.

In the SPF application group, the tunnel cavities of the wall assemblies were filled with closed cell spray foam (1.5 lb./cu. Ft. Density). The graphic shows the wall assemblies installed with SPF that have significant shelf strength, deform less, and offer greater resilience with every force applied. (Source: The test results are reported in “Testing and Adoption of Spray Polyurethane Foam for Wood Frame Building Construction” (May 25, 1992) prepared by the NAHB Research Center for The Society of the Plastics Industry / Polyurethane Foam Contractors Division.)

With up to 300% greater shelf strength, it’s no wonder it’s the only insulation approved by FEMA.

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