Is Spray Foam Insulation Fire Retardant? Is it flammable?

Spray foam insulation is a great way to add insulation to your home, keeping the heat in the winter, making the place a lot more energy efficient, and saving you money in the long run. However, there is the concern that not all insulation products are fire resistant. This leads to the fear that your insulation could accelerate a fire and eventually cause a house fire.

Many  expandable foams are highly fire retardant and can offer great protection in the event of a fire. However, no spray insulation is completely fireproof and there are conditions in which both wet and dry foams could burn.

Below are some tips on the best spray foam options for fireproof insulation, why spray foam is still the way to go, and what to do if you have insulation that doesn’t make the grade.

Why Is Fire Resistant Insulation Important?

The more fire-resistant materials we have in our homes the better. If something were to go wrong with the wiring or another spark within the home, you don’t want to give that fire extra fuel and a way to spread across the home. 

That is why responsible builders and home developers should provide insulation, cladding, and other materials that are resistant to fire. 

If you are looking to make some home improvements yourself, you need to be just as responsible when choosing the best spray foam insulation for the job.

What Insulation Materials Are Effective For Fire Resistance?

There are lots of different types of insulation materials around. Some people will use mineral wool, natural wool, and boards with good fire ratings. 

Mineral wool is popular because it takes such a high temperature before it will combust. Fiberglass is also still in use a lot across homes.

Is Fiberglass Insulation Safer Than Spray Foam?

You will find experts and homeowners championing fiberglass over spray foam insulation because it has strong fireproof properties. 

It can melt under high heat for prolonged periods but isn’t going to combust in the same way as other materials. It also doesn’t require the same level of protection and fireproofing as some spray foam products.

However, there are other factors to keep in mind with fiberglass. 

Fire protection can’t be the only consideration, as insulation should also help with energy costs, soundproofing, and other protective barriers.

Why Is Spray Foam Better?

Spray foam is often seen as one of the better options, as long as you use the best possible materials and products. You don’t want to be shortchanged with an inferior option and find it doesn’t make the grade. 

The structure and density of spray foam do mean it can provide a better block against external noise and allergens. 

There is also the fact that the right fire-resistant spray foam insulation can last for a very long time, making it more cost-effective and allowing for greater peace of mind.

Another good reason to turn to spray foam for fire-resistant insulation is that you don’t have to worry about any extra materials. 

Insulation batts are large structures with dense materials that work easily in cavities. The problem here is that some may contain wood, paper, or foil for structure, which decreases their rating as fireproof options.

One of the best products to look for is Icynene spray. This is a common tool for effective home insulation that doesn’t contain any flammable materials, such as PBDEs. 

It also happens to be made from recycled content, for a greener option. This effective solution can fill gaps and cover attic spaces efficiently to provide a great barrier.

Is Spray Foam 100% Fire Retardant?

No. As with any insulation, there is the risk that it will catch fire or melt eventually. Even then, the content of the material, due to its expansion and density, is so low that there isn’t much to catch fire. 

This might not sound ideal, but it is in the lowest bracket of the fire spread index, is not classed as a fuel source, and is a product of choice from many leading providers.

Is Spray Foam Insulation Flammable?

Yes. This is where it is important to appreciate the difference between products that are fire resistant and those that are non-flammable. 

Non-flammable materials won’t catch fire. Fire-resistant ones can, given the opportunity, but have enough resistance to withstand a blaze for a certain level of time.

In the case of spray foam, you may find something with a class 1-hour fire rating. This is great! 

It means that if a fire were to start in your home, the insulation would resist the fire, and, in turn, restrict the spread, for an hour. That gives you plenty of time to call in the fire department and get the fire under control. 

In turn, you could save the property from much more substantial damage. However, after that 1hour mark, the materials will succumb. That is because of the plastic materials in the foam. They can’t hold out forever.

What About Before It Is Dry?

This is another important question to keep in mind if you ever think about adding expanding foam to your home. We tend to talk about its fire retardant properties purely in terms of its finished state within the walls. 

But what about when it is in a can? 

This is where it can be dangerous. Spray foam requires a lot of pressure to force it from the can, which means a highly flammable gas. 

So, you need to be careful where you store the can and how you use it. Once used correctly and left to dry, it is far less hazardous and a great option as a fire retardant insulation material.

Can Spray Foam Spontaneously Combust?

This is something that you may have read before. There are stories of the foam catching alight with no initial fire source or spark. 

The reason for this is that you can get exothermic reactions during the installation process. This means that the foam produces heat as it foams and expands. 

With enough force in the right conditions, and no outlet for the heat, this could potentially lead to combustion. 

However, you should opt for professional expandable spray foam insulation to reduce this risk.

Should You Remove Spray Foam That Doesn’t Meet Regulations?

It is comforting to know that many building costs and regulations in state and local governments regulate the use of spray foam in construction projects. 

So, if you are moving into a new apartment complex or a new office building in your city, it should have effective spray foam that is up to code with the right fire resistance rating.

With that said, there is also the chance that the materials in your home aren’t up to code – especially on an older property. 

Previous owners may have decided to cut costs with cheaper options or you might find an old product that just isn’t good enough.

It is not good having a layer of insulation in your home that isn’t up to code. Many of us learned that the hard way when it came to removing asbestos from our homes. 

We didn’t realize the full extent of the dangers of this material until far too late. But, it still had to come out. A lot of the best spray foam insulation products took the place of asbestos. 

But, if they aren’t fireproof and up to the right standards, they aren’t good enough and should also come out.

Is Expanding Spray Foam Insulation Dangerous?

Yes and no. All industrial products like this come with their risk factors. The materials within the foam in its wet state can be hazardous to health and do pose a fire risk when mishandled. 

Yet, experts can use the foam with ease to provide a strong layer of insulation and soundproofing with minimal risks. 

The finished insulation is also highly fire retardant and will resist the spread of a fire. But, it is not 100% flammable, so you can’t rely on it to hold a fire at bay forever.

While there are these risks, the process and materials of the best spray foam insulation products are beneficial. 

Mineral wool and fiberglass may have their advantages, but spray foam is the material of choice for many contractors for a reason. As long as you get professional help with the installation and foam you can trust, you should fine.