Pre-Qualifying Polyurethane Foam Insulation Products

As a recognized member of the foam industry for quite a few years, I find that I am frequently asked by architects and owners “which foam brand or product is the best” for their project; and, “who should I have install it?” Responding to these questions raises concerns about recommending any one polyurethane foam product as there are a number of quality products on the market, and one type of foam is not the most appropriate for all applications. The same is true for installers. Some contractors specialize in certain types of work or have contractual agreements with manufacturers to install only one product. Again, the best installer for one project, may not be the best for another. To address this question in a systematic way, a database of information about the foam products and installers that are currently serving the market place was created. A computer program that can query this data was developed to provide the means of pre-qualifying and ranking foam systems for specific applications, and then matching the products with qualified installers.

The Pre-Q application identifies products that can be processed consistently, have the necessary documentation, are code compliant, are compatible with the rest of the construction, are durable, and will perform as specified for the normal life of an installation. The Pre-Q product selection program database is queried and matches the attributes of the products to the criteria for each specific project application. Matches are based on the following information about the product and the project:

Product attributes
• Processing requirements
• Documentation
• Substrate and environmental compatibility
• Equipment requirements
• Formulations/Chemistry
• Installation method (spray, inject, etc.)
• Installation requirements
• Manufacturer-approved applications
• Manufacturer-approved construction types
• Manufacturer-approved uses
• Manufacturer support
• Physical properties
• Pricing
• Shipping and handling requirements
• Safety requirements

Project criteria to match
• Application – Building Use
• Project goals – overall
• Building enclosure details
• Component function
• Enclosure components
• Enclosure component performance goals
• Environmental conditions of the installation
• Installation method (each enclosure component)
• Location/access
• Product preferences
• Type of construction
• Scope of the work
• Substrate material (each enclosure component)

While some of the queries are designed to rule out materials that are not compatible with substrates, adjacent materials, or do not provide the required performance, concerns about detailing, buildability, building science, accessibility and some code and standards compliance require plan reviews that are outside of the scope of this program.

The Pre-Q application also identifies installers that serve the project’s geographic area and have experience with the selected products, and have the necessary skills, equipment, and training to perform quality installation work with the minimum risk of problems. This system considers installer qualifications in the following general categories:

• Business strength and practices
• Typical pricing
• Service area and maximum project size
• Equipment/processing capabilities
• Material processing capabilities
• The types of installations they do on a regular basis
• Applications that they have experience with
• Training and certification credentials
• Quality control protocols they use or have available
• Safety protocols employed for their technicians and the work site

This approach is ultimately aimed at allowing owners and designers to make informed decisions when selecting the most appropriate products and the most qualified installers for their projects. Using this system is also a front-line strategy for preventing foam installation problems that are becoming more common in the industry due to the increased number of new entries into the market place while the industry is still lacking adequate standards and/or a viable certification process.

If you would like know more about the Pre-Q database application, please feel free to contact me at 802-222-7740, or E-mail me at If you already know you would like to use the Pre-Q system for your project(s), just let me know and I will forward you the Project Information Survey and information about Pre-Q agreement options.