The roof of any building must be able to withstand weather extremes, including wind, snow, ice, hail, hurricanes and, of course, tornados. Spray polyurethane foam (SPF) roofing systems are among the best at protecting against the weather, and they also offer energy savings because of reflective roof coatings and the insulation provided by the spray foam. So why don’t more roofing companies offer SPF roofs? One reason might be that the equipment necessary to install SPF roofs is expensive, as is the training needed to become proficient at applying foam. And because foam roofs are not as common as other methods, several myths about SPF have emerged over the past three decades or so.

Myth #1: SPF roofing systems don’t last.

Fact: Research carried out by organizations including the National Roofing Association has shown that over the course of several years, customer satisfaction was initially high and remained high for SPF roofing systems.

Myth #2: There are many places in the United States where SPF roofs can’t be installed.

Fact: SPF and elastomeric roof coatings can be installed throughout the country in temperatures between 45 degrees and 120 degrees. While it is true that moisture such as rain, frost, dew and snow will prohibit the application of foam or coatings, there are ways to get around this issue. The SPF industry has established guidelines that say that foam shouldn’t be applied when the temperature is within 5 degrees of the dew point. Contractors usually monitor weather conditions with hand-held electronic measuring tools. In addition, special foam and coating formulations are available that will work in a wide range of weather conditions. The SPF roof application guidelines have been defined over the past four decades by manufacturers, contractors, the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance, the National Roofing Contractors Association and equipment manufacturers.

Myth #3: Birds damage spray polyurethane foam.

Fact: Birds are a common sight on roofs, but pecking into the foam rarely is a problem. In any case, birds will peck on any type of roof. In most cases, they won’t cause leaks, and any imperfections in the roof can be easily repaired.

Myth #4: You can’t walk on SPF roofs.

Fact: Based on guidelines from the Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance and the National Roofing Contractors Association, it would require more than 5,760 pounds of pressure on a square foot to begin to compress the SPF material. The bottom line is that SPF roofs can easily handle normal foot traffic.

Myth #5: Insurance companies won’t insure SPF roofing systems.

Fact: The SPF industry has spent a lot of money testing its roofing systems at independent laboratories, including the Factory Mutual Research Center, which is owned by an insurance group. Insurance companies do insure SPF roofing systems.

Myth #6: SPF roofs can’t stand up to high winds, fire and hail damage.

Fact: The Factory Mutual Research Center has tested SPF roofing systems for resistance to wind, fire and hail and determined that SPF roofs perform well.

Myth #7: SPF roof systems are unkind to the environment.

Fact: SFP roofs save energy. Many of the industry’s SPF roof system components have been charter partners in the Energy Star Roofing program, and several companies have been active in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program. SPF offers a higher insulation value than other types of roofing material.

Myth #8: Some contractors tear off SPF roofs.

Fact: There are a few reasons why a contractor would tear off an SPF roof. Maybe he doesn’t have the knowledge, equipment or capability to install or repair an SPF roofing system. It’s usually cheaper to repair an SPF roof than to remove one, but only if the contractor knows how to handle this job. If he can’t, he might find it easier to get rid of the SPF roof and install a roof with which he has more experience. Another reason to tear off an SPF roof would be that it was poorly installed, designed or maintained. In this case, it might be better to start over.

Myth #9: You can’t get a good SPF roofing system.

Fact: You might be going in the wrong direction if you are looking for the cheapest roof system or the roof system with the longest warranty. You should start by getting in touch with the SPFA or the NRCA and researching the requirements for the SPF roofing system to be correctly installed. Check out the SPF contractor, just as you would with any construction professional. Ask to see work the contractor has completed.

The bottom line is that myths are generally created and retold by people who don’t know much about a product such as an SPF roofing system.