Spray foam fully restores a high-end home in picturesque Kelowna, British Columbia.
By JUAN SAGARBARRÍA
Kelowna, British Columbia is synonymous with mountain ranges, lakes, and green pastures. A picturesque city with several spots of interest, numerous visitors that travel to the city for vacation constantly exceed Kelowna’s local population of approximately 123,500. Bordering Kelowna is Okanagan Lake, which is one of the most famous staples of British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley of which Kelowna is its biggest city and reportedly one of Canada’s best cities in which to live. The latter was logged in a recent Canada Pulse Survey, in which 90 percent of Kelowna’s residents checked off “My city is a great place to live.”
While Kelowna residents may have few complaints about the environment in which they find themselves, that does not mean that the environment helps their residences stay in optimal shape over the years. Since this is a “vacation city,” many high-end residences are included in its tapestry, and one of these structures in particular was in desperate need of repair. The problem with the residence – built in 1970 – in question was the roof, consisting of a tar and gravel substrate. Over the course of 40 years, holes had been generated, leaks had developed, and the asphalt had started to come apart at the seams. Needless to say, this home needed an immediate fix, given the roof’s apparent problems.
The nature of built-up roofs and the hardships therein of localizing the source of the leaks was incentive enough to establish contact with specialists that could brandish a solution before the structure reached a point where it could only be salvaged by spending a fortune on repair expenses. The homeowner concluded that spray polyurethane foam was that solution and got in touch with representatives of SWD Urethane, a major spray foam manufacturer, to request an estimate to repair the 3,200 square-foot roof, as well as apply SPF insulation to his crawlspace, shed, and garage. The homeowner gave the approval but he requested a quick turnaround – one week – since he had scheduled several other trades constituting a full repair of the home to come onsite and he wanted the insulation application to be finished prior to the arrival of other trades in order to avoid potential damage to the interior of the house from the leaky roof. This meant that the owner had scheduled one week to complete an insulation project that normally would have taken two if the weather wasn’t ideal or the wrong crew was selected. Thankfully, neither was the case.
Upon the homeowner’s approval, SWD quickly got in touch with spray foam contractor Midgaard Spray Foam Systems, who was deemed the best fit for a rapid, challenging SPF application.
“This wasn’t going to be your average roofing job; it was an entire energy retrofit of the home,” says Midgaard’s Luke Egely. “We installed foam on everything we could without tearing off drywall: To the roof, the crawlspace, the shed, and in the garage. We felt this was necessary due to the age of the home, as foam adds structural integrity. This was also an unusual job in that there aren’t many flat-roof residences in Canada. We do a lot of commercial flat-roof buildings, however, so we knew this project was well within our ability.”
Based in Alberta, Midgaard and their employees are licensed under Canada code CAN/ULC-S705. This involves an extensive, multi-day training class and a lengthy test on spray foam application and safety requirements included by a Quality Assurance Program (QAP). In Midgaard’s case, they were certified by Morrison Hershfield’s QAP.
“Quality assurance programs are great for the industry and help bring quality and consistency to jobsites,” says Egely. “It also assists in limiting liability, not only for the contractor, but for the industry as well.”
The Midgaard team equipped one of their spray rigs with a Graco Reactor H-50 and Graco Fusion AP gun and made their way to Kelowna from their Calgary headquarters. They carefully coordinated with spray foam supplier SWD Urethane to get their product in on time. SWD Urethane’s Quik-Shield 125, a low-viscosity, two-component,
3 pound closed-cell, spray-applied polyurethane foam was used for the roofing portion of the project, while SWD Urethane’s Quik-Shield 112 Canada, a 2 pound polyurethane foam was used for the interior insulation part of the project.
The Midgaard crew was divided into two teams: One group of laborers to assist on the prepping and tearing off of the existing roof system and a spray crew. The first team did a complete tear-off of the old roof that was, according to Egely beyond repair. He notes that, surprisingly enough, the wooden boards underneath were still in great shape.
“We were concerned there would be rot,” says Egely. “But, fortunately, there wasn’t. Beyond the tear off, the roof was all but ready for the spray foam roofing system.”
While one team completed the tear off and roof prep portion of the project, the Midgaard spray team proceeded to the garage. They applied six inches of closed-cell foam to the underside of the roof deck and to the crawlspace beneath the garage, as well as three inches of foam to the walls.
“The garage had a big issue with condensation and leakage, which is why we applied so much foam here,” explains Egely.
Next was the 10 by 14 shed that was attached to the house. Egely says that the homeowner used
the shed to store expensive winemaking equipment and that he wanted foam in there for insulation and structural stability. The crew installed five inches of closed-cell foam to the underside of the roof deck to meet the homeowner’s needs.
“We completed the applications in the garage and shed prior to the start of the roof as the crews needed the extra time to complete the roof tear off and prep,” continues Egely.
With the foam insulation in place in both the shed and the garage, the spray crew moved over up to the roof of the house. The roofing portion of the project consisted of the application of two inches of closed-cell SPF to the roof surface and the low parapets. The Midgaard crew installed to the roof surface a total of 2.5 sets of foam.
“Spray foam was the obvious choice for this project,” says Egely. “Once the foam was installed, the leaking issues were readily solved. It did not take much convincing to get the homeowner to see the value in it. The use of spray foam helps provide a sustainable building environment by providing a more efficient insulation system, built-in air barrier, and a seamless monolithic roofing system.”
The foam was installed in one-inch lifts with some areas requiring multiple passes to reach the necessary height and ensure that ponding would not be an issue.
“The short height of the parapets presented a bit of an issue,” says Egely. “Because the roof had parapet caps that reached down to the roof and were only about five inches, we had to be careful about the depth of foam that we installed in order to make sure everything drained properly.”
Personnel safety was paramount during the roofing portion of the project since the parapet wall height was only five inches above the roof deck. Due to this, the crew placed delineator cones six feet away from the roof edges and, as an additional precaution, whenever the applicator needed to work past the six-foot marked safety area, he was monitored by another crewmember to avoid fall risks. All three were outfitted with PPE consisting of Tyvek suits, Honeywell Sperian Opti-fit respirators, gloves, and goggles. When working indoors, the crew utilized two industrial fans to ventilate the area in which they were working.
Aside from time constraints, the Midgaard crew also had to deal with wind issues. The home was located on the top of a steep hill overlooking the Okanagan Lake in the valley, and the space created a wind tunnel, meaning that belligerent gusts of wind would constantly come through without warning. Because the home in question was located in a highly populated, affluent neighborhood with nearby homes all around, overspray damage was a significant cause for concern. Add in a tight deadline, and the problem multiplies. Bottom line was: The crew couldn’t simply stop spraying when the wind picked up. Therefore, the Midgaard team assembled two-by-four, 4.5-inch windscreens containing a debris screen and a six-mil polyethylene plastic sheeting screen that were used during the spray application to mitigate overspray damage.
A few hours after, when the foam had cured, the Midgaard crew installed an 80-mil DFT coat of gray Quik-Shield 2240, a 100-solids, aromatic, polyurea hybrid roof coating that is formulated with UV stabilizers. A Graco HXP3 coating proportioner was used to install a total of 150 gallons of polyurea. According to Egely, the polyurea application was crucial to ensure the longevity of the roof.
“Polyurea coatings are extremely tough, which is especially necessary when dealing with the gigantic ravens of Canada,” says Egely. “They commonly peck and destroy roofs that are coated with silicone or acrylic. With tensile strengths greater than 2400 psi, polyurea coatings are some of the toughest and most durable coatings on the planet. The aromatic polyurea used on this project also contains UV inhibitors and aluminum flakes, which extend the life of the roof system and increase solar reflectance.”
Egely points out that the combination of spray foam and polyurea generates a roof system with a low life cycle cost designed to last more than 30 years. Moreover, there is no need to remove or replace the roof after 10 years as is the case with traditional built-up roofs or single-ply systems. He notes that over the life of the roof, the difference in construction waste and energy savings makes spray foam the sustainable leader.
The Midgaard crew made good on their deadline: The project was completed in seven days – just before any other trades arrived onsite. In order to accomplish this, they worked 15 to16 hour days down to the wire. In the end, the total tally of closed-cell foam installed was 4,300 pounds, and 150 gallons of polyurea on the roof. Not too shabby of a delivery for a week’s work, eh? Sunlight, wind, rain, or any other force of the beautiful nature that surrounds this regal home will not be a cause for the deterioration of the structure, thanks greatly to spray polyurethane foam.
“Kelowna is a temperate climate, however the area that we were working in was within a valley and prone to high winds and, at times, high moisture,” says Egely. “The foam provides a monolithic coverage of the roof area and superior adhesion to the substrate. This cuts down on the possibility of roofing material failures. The increase in insulation provides the building with a high degree of temperature control reducing heat and cooling loss during the seasons.”
Photos courtesy of Midgaard Spray Foam Systems