Application of Spray Foam Insulation Under Plywood and OSB Roof Sheathing (Fact Sheet)

Research output: NRELFact Sheet


Spray polyurethane foams (SPFs) have advantages over alternative insulation methods because they provide air sealing in complex assemblies, particularly roofs. Spray foam can provide the thermal, air, and vapor control layers in both new and retrofit construction. Unvented roof strategies with open cell and closed cell SPF insulation sprayed to the underside of roof sheathing have been used sincethe mid-1990s to provide durable and efficient building enclosures. However, there have been isolated incidents of failures (either sheathing rot or SPF delamination) that raise some general concerns about the hygrothermal performance and durability of these systems. The primary risks for roof systems are rainwater leaks, condensation from diffusion and air leakage, and built-in constructionmoisture. This project directly investigated rain and indirectly investigated built-in construction moisture and vapor drives. Research involved both hygrothermal modeling of a range of rain water leakage scenarios and field evaluations of in-service residential roofs. Other variables considered were climate zone, orientation, interior relative humidity, and the vapor permeance of the coatingapplied to the interior face of open cell SPF.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages2
StatePublished - 2013

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/FS-5500-60432

Other Report Number

  • DOE/GO-102013-4255


  • BSC
  • Building America
  • closed cell
  • hygrothermal modeling
  • moisture content
  • open cell
  • OSB
  • plywood
  • residential
  • residential buildings
  • roof sheathing
  • roofs
  • spray foam


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