CIA Since 1979

Commercial, Insulators, Air Barrier

Tomball, TX  77377

(713) 476-1087

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Air Barrier Insulation System     Since the Canadian National Building Code in 1985 added an air barrier requirement, Air-Barrier sprayed-in-place polyurethane foam, with its one-step application of membrane air barrier, vapour retarder, and thermal insulation has increasingly been seen as a superior less costly alternative to two component-multi product systems.


     Air Barrier Sprayed-in-place polyurethane foam, used in buildings, has a nominal density of 1.7/2 lb. per cubic foot.  It is formed by the reaction of two liquids, an A side (isocyanate) and a B side (polyol plus catalysts, blowing agent and additives).  The two components are supplied in drums and pumped through separate heated hose lines (130�F), then mixed at the head of a spray gun.  The foam emerges as a liquid spray expanding within seconds to 30 times its original volume and hardens within minutes. The initial R value of sprayed-in-place polyurethane foam is R 7.6. Sprayed-in-place polyurethane foam's fully aged long term R value, which takes into account thermal drift is R 7 per inch.
     Design R values are determined under idealized laboratory conditions.  However, in the real world, "in situ" performance determines the actual R values of any insulation.  Many conditions can severely compromise - even nullify - the performance of insulation; these include air gaps, convective air flow around and through insulation, compression of certain insulation systems, thermal bridging and moisture pick-up.

Difficult surfaces are easily outfitted with Insul-Barrier air barrier system.     The benefits of Air Barrier sprayed-in-place polyurethane foam all stem from the fact that it provides a seamless monolithic envelope of closed-cell moisture-resistant membrane which adheres tenaciously to virtually all surfaces, smooth or irregular.
     Independent testing shows that Air Barrier sprayed-in-place polyurethane foam allows significantly less air leakage than the maximum allowable for type 3 Air Barrier (0.05 L/S/m2, indoor humidities over 55% RH)


     Because it is sprayed, Air Barrier sprayed-in-place polyurethane foam maintains Finished retrofit of building.continuity within the building envelope, provides joint-free corners and seals around masonry ties, pipes and other penetrations.  The excellent adhesion of Air Barrier sprayed-in-place polyurethane foam and its high structural strength enable it to easily resist all building wind loads.  It also adheres well to sheet and liquid air barrier materials, enabling continuity to be maintained at all transition points (e.g. roof and windows). The reduction of air infiltration is effectively 1,000 times more energy efficient than the insulating R factor.


Format Guide Specification
January 1998
PROJECT NO.           SPRAYED FOAM AIR BARRIER/INSULATION                      07214

1.      GENERAL

         SPEC. NOTE: Division 1 should cover reference to form of Contract, Supplementary General Conditions and following: code, standards, coordination, material storage and handling, waste disposal, scaffolding, temporary cleaning, manufacturer's directions, submittals, quality control, temporary facilities, barriers and field offices and sheds.

1.1.1 Conform to Sections of Division 1 as applicable.

         SPEC. NOTE: amend to suit project.

1.2.1 Concrete: Section 03300, Cast-in-Place Concrete.

1.2.2 Masonry: Section 04200, Unit Masonry.

1.2.3 Rough Carpentry: Section 06100.

1.2.5 Waterproofing: Section 07100.
         SPEC. NOTE: The following paragraph can be utilized to reference sealant materials and installation techniques for this section in lieu of duplicating specification statements.

1.2.8 Sealants: Section 07920, Sealants and Caulkings.

         SPEC. NOTE: amend to suit project.

1.3.1 CAN/CGSB-51.23-92 - Thermal Insulation, Polyurethane, Spray in Place.

1.3.2 CAN/CGSB-51.39-92 - The Installation of Sprayed Air Barrier Foam Insulation For Building Construction.

1.3.3 CAN/CGSB-51.80M - One Component Post Expanding Polyurethane Foam Sealing Compound.

         SPEC. NOTE: Do not request shop drawings if design drawings sufficiently describe the products of this section or if proprietary specifying techniques are used. (2)

1.4.1 Product Data: Provide data on material characteristics, performance criteria, limitations, [and] [________].
         SPEC. NOTE: When manufacturer's instructions for specific installation requirements are referenced in PART 3 EXECUTION, consider including the following request for submittal of those instructions.

1.4.4 Manufacturer's Installation Instructions: Indicate preparation, installation requirements and techniques, product storage and handling criteria [and] [________].


1.5.1 Application of insulation system only by applicators certified by the Urethane Foam System Manufacturer. Provide proof of certification upon request.

1.5.2 [Maintain [one] copy of installation manual (s) on site].

1.5.3 Installers of insulation system to perform daily on-site testing as directed by material manufacturer/distributor.


1.6.1 Installer to be a Qualified Applicator of the product (s) from the manufacturer/distributor. Submit proof of status upon request.

1.6.2 Material manufacturer/distributor must have an on-site quality assurance program. Submit [one] copy of quality assurance program upon request.

1.7    MOCK-UP
         SPEC. NOTE: Use this article when specifying full sized erected assemblies required for review of construction, coordination of work of several sections, site testing, education of the specific trades involved, or observation of installation.

1.7.1 Provide mock-up of insulation materials under provisions of Section [01400] [________].

1.7.2 Construct typical [exterior wall] [________] panel, [________]m long by [________]m, wide incorporating [window] [and] [________] frame [and sill],
insulation, [building corner condition] illustrating materials interface and seals.

1.7.3 Locate [where directed] [________].

1.7.4 Mock-up may [not] remain as part of the Work. (3)


1.8.1 Maintain temperature and humidity recommended by the materials  manufacturer before, during, and after installation.


1.9.1 Coordinate the work of this section with all sections referencing this section.


1.10.1 Warrant work of this section against defects or deficiencies for a period of one year  from date Work is certified as substantially performed in accordance with General Condition of the Contract.

1.10.2 Promptly correct, at own expense, defects or deficiencies which become apparent within  the warranty period.

2.      PRODUCTS


2.1.1 Foam Insulation: sprayed/frothed polyurethane foam to CAN/CGSB-51.23-92, RSI 1.05 (R6/1") at density of 32.8 kg/cu.m. (1.7lb/cu.ft) Insul-Barrier.

2.1.2 Insulation Foam Air Barrier Sealant: Closed cell single component liquid system with density of 27.2 kg./cu.m. (1.7 lb/cu.ft.) RSI 1.0 (R5.7/1") and compressive strength of 10% compression at 96.5 kpa (14 psi); Enerfoam manufactured by Abisko Manufacturing Inc., Toronto.
         SPEC. NOTE: The following paragraph can be utilized to reference firestopping when required.

2.1.3 Firestopping: Horizontal firestopping: Preformed angle from minimum 1.2mm (18ga) steel core with zinc coating conforming to ASTM A525 (G90-galvanized). Angle fabrication shall be such that horizontal section of angle perpendicular to substrate shall protrude past the finished face of spray insulation by 13mm to allow for subsequent installation of mineral fibre firestop to this angle by Section 04200. Mineral fibre firestopping material to be AFB Fire Batt by Roxul sized to achieve 50% comression when installed.
         Vertical firestopping: Preformed angle from minimum 0.38 (28ga) steel core with zinc coating conforming to ASTM A525 (G90-galvanized). Angle fabrication shall be such that verticle section of angle perpendicular to substrate shall protrude past the finished face of spray insulation for the full depth of the cavity to contact the backside of the veneer to close off the cavity.
         Sheet steel firestop angles to be mechanically attached to substrate at 200mm O.C. with suitable fasteners according to substrate.


         SPEC. NOTE: This is an optional article to this section. List specific applicators acceptable for this project by name, when project conditions warrant.

3.1.1 [___________________________________________________].

3.1.2 [___________________________________________________].

3.1.3 [___________________________________________________].


3.2.1 Verify that surfaces and conditions are ready to accept the Work of this section.
           Application of Work of this section shall be deemed acceptance of existing work and existing conditions. Report in writing defects in substrates which may adversely affect the performance of the foam insulation.

3.2.2 Examine joints before sealing to ensure configuration, surfaces and widths are suitable for foam sealant. Report in writing the locations of joints which are deemed unacceptable for the application of joint sealant.


3.3.1 Surfaces to receive foam insulation shall be free of frost, loose or foreign matter which might impair adhesion of materials.

3.3.2 Prepare surface by brushing, scrubbing, scraping, or grinding to remove loose mortar, dust, oil, grease, oxidation, mill scale and other contaminants which will affect adhesion and integrity of the foam insulation system. Wipe down metal surfaces to remove release agents or other non-compatible coatings, using clean sponges or rags soaked in a solvent compatible with the foam insulation. Ensure surfaces are dry before proceeding.

3.3.3 Prepare joints to receive foam air barrier sealant by brushing, scrubbing, wiping, scraping or grinding to remove loose mortar, dust, oil, grease, solvents, oxidation, mill scale and other contaminants which will affect adhesion and integrity of foam sealant.


3.4.1 Apply foam insulation in strict accordance with manufacturer's written 
instructions, specifications or recommendations.

3.4.2 Apply foam insulation only when surfaces and ambient temperatures are within limits prescribed by the material manufacturer.
         SPEC. NOTE: Show or specify locations of foam insulation including thickness.

3.4.3 Fill joints with foam sealant making allowances for post expansion of foam.

3.4.4 Finish joints shall be free from air pockets and inbedded foreign materials. Cut back excess foam sealant after cutting flush with surrounding surfaces unless otherwise directed and/or detailed.

3.4.5 Apply foam insulation to within the following tolerances: +6.4mm(1/4");-0mm of thicknesses indicated on drawings, [or herin specified].

3.4.6 Finished sprayed foam insulation shall be free of voids and inbedded foreign materials.

3.4.7 Do not allow foam insulation to cover or mark adjacent surfaces. Use masking materials if necessary.

3.4.8 Remove over-spray and masking materials immediately after foam has cured to hard surface film.

3.4.9 Clean and make good surfaces soiled or damaged by Work of this section. Consult with section of Work soiled before cleaning to ensure methods used will not damage their Work.

3.4.10 Do not permit adjacent Work to damage Work of this Section. Damage to Work of this section caused by other sections shall be made good by this section at the expense of the section which caused the damage.
  Technical Notes Vapour Permeance
     Issues relating to the vapour permeance of Insul-Air Barrier sprayed-in-place polyurethane foam focus primarily on its ability to perform the function as the vapour barrier in a wall assembly. Testing at the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) definitively establishes that sprayed-in-place polyurethane foam insulation meets the intent of the Ontario Building Code with respect to vapour barriers. Herein we will define and discuss the issues, beginning with a review of the pertinent Ontario Building Code references.
     PART 5 of the 1997 Ontario Building Code (OBC) deals with wind, water, and vapour protection in a building.  Appendix Note A- "Material and Component Properties and Condensation" reads... "Total prevention of condensation is generally unnecessary and its achievement is rarely a certainty at design conditions. Part 5, therefore requires that condensation be minimized. The occurrence of condensation should be sufficiently rare, or the quantities accumulated should be sufficiently small and dry rapidly enough, to avoid material deterioration and the growth of mold and fungi. Condensation occurs on or within a material whose temperature is at or below the dew point for air at a given temperature and relative humidity. Moisture transfer occurs through two processes, namely air leakage (which accounts for over 90% of moisture movement through the building envelope) and vapour diffusion. We will not discuss the control of moisture diffusion in a cavity wall application with an Air-Barrier sprayed-in-place polyurethane foam, since it is already widely known that sprayed-in-place polyurethane foam is an excellent air barrier and eliminates moisture transfer through air leakage.

Section of the 1997 - OBC states

1.) "...Where a building component or assembly will be subjected to a temperature differential and a differential in water pressure, the component or assembly shall include a vapour barrier. "

2.) "...A vapour barrier is not required where it can be shown that uncontrolled vapour diffusion will not affect any of
    a.) the health and safety of the building users
    b.) the intended use of the building, or:
    c.) the operation of building services

Section Vapour Barrier Properties and Installation states

1.) The vapour barrier shall have sufficiently low permeance and shall be positioned in the building component or assembly so as to 
    a.) minimize moisture transfer by diffusion, to surfaces within the assembly that would be cold enough to cause condensation at the design temperature and humidity conditions, or
    b.) reduce moisture content by diffusion, to surfaces within the assembly that would cause condensation at the design temperature and humidity conditions, to a rate that will not allow sufficient accumulation of moisture to cause deterioration or otherwise adversely affect any of 
                               (i.) The health or safety of building users,
                              (ii.) The intended use of the building, or
                             (iii.) The operation of building services.

2.) Where materials installed to provide the required resistance to vapour diffusion are covered in the scope of the standards listed below, the material shall conform to the requirements of the respective standards:

    a.) CAN/CGSB-51.33-M, "Vapour Barrier Sheet, Excluding Polyethylene, for Use in Building Construction", and
    b.) CAN/CGSB-51.34-M, "Vapour Barrier, Polyethylene Sheet for Use Building Construction".

     Clearly since Insul-Barrier is not a prefabricated sheet material and therefore not covered in the scope of the above standards, it must meet the criteria outlined in stated above with respect to vapour permeance.
     Appendix Note A- states "It is important to note that Sentence, pertaining to materials intended to provide resistance to vapour diffusion, is stated in such a fashion that the selection of materials is not limited to those traditionally recognized as vapour barrier materials or those for which a standard is identified. This approach permits more flexibility than is provided by the equivalent requirements in Part 9. So long as the selected materials meets the performance requirements provided elsewhere in the Section, the material may be used to provide the necessary resistance to vapour diffusion...
     It should also be noted that references to either a Type 1 or Type 2 vapour barrier are not included in this Section as these designations are used to classify sheet vapour retarders only. 

3.) ...

4.) Coatings applied to materials other than gypsum wallboard to provide required resistance to vapour diffusion shall be shown to conform with the requirements of Sentence (1) when tested in accordance with ASTM E96, "Test Methods for Water Vapour Transmission of Materials" by the desiccant method (dry cup).

     Insul-Barrier has been tested to ASTM E96, has exceptionally low vapour permeance, and has performed in the cavity wall environment flawlessly for over 20 years throughout Ontario. As a system Insul-Barrier specified as the insulation, air barrier, and vapour barrier in cavity walls has been used for almost 10 years. The issues today surround the contention that a vapour barrier must have a permeance of 15 ng/Pa.s.m2 to perform the function of a vapour barrier in a wall assembly. We know that this is not the case. The performance based specification of Part 5 and the Appendix Notes of the OBC further acknowledge this!
     Testing was performed at the National Research Council of Canada on sprayed-in-place polyurethane foam applied to concrete block wall substrate. These tests included first measuring vapour permeance on the whole system (a composite of the foam and the substrate) and subsequently, measuring vapour permeance  on each of its components separately. Each test involved three specimens tested in accordance with ASTM E96: Results (avg)


Thickness (mm)

Permeance (ng/Pa.s.m2)

Polyurethane Foam



Concrete Blocks (web)



Foam on Block



     The results clearly showed that air barrier sprayed-in-place polyurethane foam applied to the surface of concrete blocks has a much higher resistance toward water vapour transmission than the sum of the values obtained on each of the components tested separately. The vapour permeance of the interface layer and the masonry substrate is very significant. The study estimates that this interface layer alone can provide resistance to diffusion of 60 ng/Pa.s.m2. 
     Further, the study goes on to calculate that the vapour permeance for the following thicknesses of sprayed-in-place polyurethane foam (PUF) on concrete block back-up:

50mm PUF/concrete blocks  29.5 ng/Pa.s.m2

75mm PUF/concrete blocks  24.6 ng/Pa.s.m2

   The NRC then applied these results to a hygrothermal computer model of vapour diffusion through this system. They used climatic conditions for the Island of Montreal for a 52 week period. The analysis of the results obtained concludes that the PUF progressively became drier throughout the year covered by the simulation. These studies without a doubt demonstrate that sprayed-in-place polyurethane foam applied to concrete block back-up meets the 1997 OBC requirements stipulated in Sentence 1 and 4 of Section (Vapour Barrier Properties and Installation).
     We have taken this one step further by having Trow Consulting Engineers Ltd. accompany us to perform two separate site investigations in the London, Ontario area (Trow Project L05112BSC).  Retained samples were sent to Ortech for analysis (Report No: 98-IMS-022).
     This investigation looked at core samples taken from cavity wall installations, left exposed to the elements to facilitate a thorough investigation. The results for the "Labourers Training Facility" an institutional building, installed in December 1994, show that Insul-Barrier had a moisture content by weight of 0.72%. What does that mean? Well, at 2.37 lb/ft3 in-situ density measured for that sample, the weight of foam would be 0.3 lbs, and the weigh of the water in the sample would be 0.002 lbs! To put this in perspective, this is equivalent to  0.0000341 gallons of water per square foot of wall area. Trows investigation also revealed that the foam was "well adhered to the substrate, dry to the touch with no visible evidence of moisture on the sample or in the hole", ie the interface between the foam and the concrete block wall was dry!
     The results of our tests and the research of the NRC (published in the "Journal of Thermal Insulation and Building Envelopes" Vol. 21, Issue 3, 1998.) are conclusive: even a thin application of Air-Barrier sprayed-in-place polyurethane foam will perform the function of vapour barrier for institutional buildings.

Air-Barrier Physical Properties



Test Method


Thermal Resistance 
 after 2 d @ 23�C 
 after 90 d @ 23�C, 50% RH




Dimensional Stability 
Volume Change at: 
 70�C, 90% RH


ASTM D2126


Water Vapour Permeance




Apparent Core Density


ASTM D1622


Compressive Strength


ASTM D1621


Tensile Strength


ASTM D1623


Water Absorption by Volume


ASTM D2842


Open Cell Content, Volume


ASTM D2856


Flame Spread Classification


ULC S102


Volatile Organic Emissions


ASTM D5116


Recently Completed
Air Barrier Insulation Projects

1996-97 Student Residence (U.W.O.)
University of Western Ontario
68,000 sq ft 2" GNI Insul-Barrier
Tilmann Ruth Mocellin Architects

London, Ontario


1996-97 IMTI Building (U.W.O.)
University of Western Ontario
22,000 sq ft 2" GNI Insul-Barrier
Malholtra Nicholson Architects

London, Ontario


1997 Fairview Mall Cinemas
Brittany Construction
7,000 sq ft 2" GNI Insul-Barrier
Scolar Lee Architects

St. Catherines, Ontario


1997 Magna Corporation
15,000 sq ft 3" GNI Insul-Barrier
Petroff Partnerships Architects

St. Thomas, Ontario


1997 Luther Village on the Park
27,000 sq ft 3" GNI Insul-Barrier
Victor J Heinrichs Architects

Waterloo, Ontario


1997 GM Oshawa
12,000 sq ft 2" GNI Insul-Barrier
Bernell Masonry Ltd.

Oshawa, Ontario


1997 Old Shoe Factory
25,000 sq ft 1�" GNI Insul-Barrier
Rottlea Construction

Port Colbourne, Ontario


1997 Lovat Tunnel
17,000 sq ft 1" GNI Insul-Barrier
A.A.B. Contracting

Toronto, Ontario


1997 Rapelje Lodge
15,000 sq ft 2" GNI Insul-Barrier
Brouwer Construction

Welland, Ontario


1997 Niagara College
33,000 sq ft 3" GNI Insul-Barrier
Bradscot Construction

Welland, Ontario


1997 Clarke Road School
25,000 sq ft 2" GNI Insul-Barrier
London Board of Education

London, Ontario


1997 Heidehof Seniors Apartments
28,000 sq ft 3" GNI Insul-Barrier
Kenmore Construction

St. Catherines, Ontario


1997 Beaver Creek Medium
Security Prison
50,000 sq ft 2�" GNI Insul-Barrier
Magee Masonry

Gravenhurst, Ontario


15,000 sq ft 3" GNI Insul-Barrier
Cotnam Belair Deshaies Associates Inc./ANO Architects Inc. 

Timmins, Ontario


18,000 sq ft 2�" GNI Insul-Barrier
Moffat Kinoshita Architects

Belleville, Ontario


16,750 sq ft 2" GNI Insul-Barrier
Mekinda Snyder Partnership 

Oakville, Ontario


8,170 sq ft 3" GNI Insul-Barrier
Moffat Kinoshita Architects Inc. 

Hamilton, Ontario


60,000 sq ft 2" GNI Insul-Barrier
Tillman Ruth Mocellin 

London, Ontario


18,540 sq ft 2" GNI Insul-Barrier
Tillman Ruth Mocellin

London, Ontario


6,017 sq ft 2" GNI Insul-Barrier
Tillman Ruth Mocellin 

London, Ontario


43,000 sq ft 3" GNI Insul-Barrier
Stafford Haensli Architects 

Stoney Creek, Ontario


4,136 sq ft 2" GNI Insul-Barrier
Baker and Elmes Architects 

St. Catharines, Ontario


60,000 sq ft 3" GNI Insul-Barrier
Venerino V.P. Panici Architects Inc. 

Niagara Falls, Ontario


U.W.O. Student Residence
U.W.O. Student Residence

U.W.O. Student Residence
U.W.O. Student Residence

Typical Installations
Typical Pre-Eng building.
Typical Pre-Eng building.

Masonry wall with brick veneer.
Masonry wall with brick veneer.

Masonry wall with metal veneer.
Masonry wall with metal veneer.

Typical Pre-Eng Liner Panel Insulation System
Typical Pre-Eng Liner Panel Insulation System

Roof Line Tie-In
 Roof Line Tie-In

Window/Door Detail
Window/Door Detail

Base Flashing Detail
Base Flashing Detail

Corners and Steel Columns
Corners & Steel Columns


CIA Since 1979

Commercial, Insulators, Air Barrier
Tomball, TX  77377

(713) 476-1087

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