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RR-0912: Spray Polyurethane Foam: The Need for Vapor Retarders in Above-Grade Residential Walls

By John Straube, Rachel Smith and Graham Finch; Building Energy Group    Created: 2009/03/01

This report is available from the Canadian Urethane Foam Contractors Association. It is reproduced here for convenience. A common question encountered by SPF applicators, building designers, and code officials is the need for an additional vapor barrier or retarder. Experience by many contractors and some consultants suggest that special low permeance layers such as polyethylene are rarely needed in many types of walls. Theory indicates that closed cell foam is sufficiently vapor impermeable to control diffusion condensation and that low-density open-cell foam applications may require additional vapor diffusion control in some extreme environments. However, the need for, and type of additional vapor control layers remains unanswered to many.

 

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