The Controversy Surrounding Spray Foam Insulation in the UK: Why Caution is Advised

Spray foam insulation, once celebrated as a modern energy-efficient solution, is now a subject of intense debate in the United Kingdom. This shift in perception is due to a growing awareness of its potential drawbacks. While the promise of reduced energy bills is tempting, UK homeowners should carefully weigh the long-term consequences before choosing spray foam insulation.

As experts in loft insulation with nearly 20 years experience dealing with insulation and loft boarding, we through we’d put together this explainer guide around spray foam insulation.

1. Issues with Ventilation and Moisture

damp and mould on ceiling
Damp and mould can form on the ceiling under the loft space if there’s poor airflow within the loft.

The effect of spray foam on a building’s natural ventilation is one of the main issues. Because traditional UK homes are built to “breathe,” spray foam can trap moisture, which can result in mould growth, dampness, and poor indoor air quality. This can jeopardise the building’s structural integrity in addition to posing health risks.

2. Difficulty in Detection of Roof Issues

Spray foam can make it challenging to spot roof problems. When applied under roof tiles, it can mask issues like water ingress or rot, which might otherwise be visible. By the time these problems are detected, they could have caused significant damage, leading to costly repairs.

3. Complications in Electrical Wiring

The application of spray foam around electrical wiring raises significant safety concerns. It can complicate future electrical work and, in some cases, may cause wire overheating, which is a serious fire hazard.

4. Impact on Property Value and Insurance

Spray foam insulation can adversely affect property values and insurance. Potential buyers and surveyors may view properties with spray foam insulation with suspicion, concerned about hidden damp and ventilation problems. Additionally, some UK insurance companies are reluctant to insure these homes.

5. Environmental and Health Concerns

The environmental impact of spray foam, particularly types that release volatile organic compounds (VOCs), is also troubling. These VOCs can be harmful to both human health and the environment. As well as this, the non-recyclable nature of spray foam raises concerns about its long-term environmental footprint.

6. Difficulty in Removal

Once installed, spray foam insulation is notoriously difficult to remove. This permanence poses a risk, as the removal process can be both invasive and costly, making it a less flexible option compared to traditional insulation methods.

7. Impact on Home Sales and Equity

The presence of spray foam insulation can have significant implications for homeowners looking to sell their property or obtain equity from it. It may deter potential buyers or affect the property’s valuation in the real estate market. Some mortgage lenders may even have reservations about providing financing for such properties, which can further complicate the sale or equity extraction process.

8. Regulatory and Compliance Issues

In the UK, strict building regulations can make the use of spray foam insulation complicated. Its application in listed buildings or conservation areas is often restricted or prohibited, adding another layer of complexity for homeowners.

Conclusion

The decision to use spray foam insulation should not be taken lightly. Homeowners are advised to thoroughly research and consider alternative methods more suited to the unique characteristics of UK homes. Consulting with building professionals and understanding the long-term impacts are crucial steps. Balancing immediate energy efficiency benefits with long-term safety, environmental sustainability, property value, and marketability is key to any home improvement project.

At The Loft Boys we don’t currently work with spray foam insulation and we also don’t offer a removal service.

For more information on spray foam you might like to read this Which? review.