InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.
Exposed foam board insulation fire hazards:
This Q&A article discusses the requirement for a fire-resistant covering for foam and foam-board board building insulation. Since most fire codes call for a minimum of half-hour fire rating over foam insulations, paneling would probably not provide a sufficient fire barrier over the foam insulating board.
We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.
Fire Safety and Foam Insulation Board
The question-and-answer article below paraphrases, quotes-from, updates, and comments an original article from Solar Age Magazine and written by Steven Bliss.
What coverings are acceptable for foam insulation used indoors?
I am reinsulating a house that has concrete block walls, a stucco exterior, and 3/4-inch foil-backed gypsum board over furring strips on the building interior.
If I glued foam insulating board directly over the existing plaster wall finish, would paneling be sufficient covering? Will the foil backing on the gypsum board create a cold-side vapor barrier? - Gordon Reed Jr., Kingsford MI.
In the photograph at left, foam insulating board is shown on a garage ceiling below a second floor bedroom - this material should have been covered with fire rated drywall to meet local building code specifications for fire safety.
Answer: Fire Code Requirements for Covering Foam Insulating Board
Since most fire codes call for a minimum of half-hour fire rating over foam insulations, paneling would probably not provide a sufficient fire barrier over the foam insulating board. New 1/2-inch drywall is usually called for [and in some installations, fire-rated drywall or thicker drywall may be required for local codes and for certain applications].
The thin foil used on the back of drywall will create a moderate cold-side vapor retarder, but the exact permenance is not published for foil-backed gypsum board.
The safe tack is to use a highgraade air/vapor barrier on the inside, keeping it much less permeable than the cold side barrier. We suggest foil-faced foam insulating board with the joints sealed with foil tape.
Watch out: depending on whether or not the foil backing on the existing foil-backed gypsum board is perforated or not, the perm rating of that surface could be near zero - that is, very resistant to moisture movement, forming a moisture barrier in the "wrong place".
So it would also be a good idea to take measures to keep interior building moisture levels to a moderate level. See HUMIDITY LEVEL TARGET
Background on foam board insulation and fire protection:
Foam insulation board should not be left exposed in building interiors.
While many modern foam insulating products do not themselves readily support combustion (that is they don't catch fire and burn alone) they may give off thick acrid or toxic black smoke in a fire, making it difficult to safely exit the burning building.
Foam Insulation Alternatives to Solid Foam Board Insulation
Various foam insulation products that are sprayed in buildings, including UFFI, Icynene, Latex, and other insulating foams as well as fire resistant spray foam insulation used for sealing building penetrations, a different product from the foam board insulation discussed here, are described
The link to the original Q&A article in PDF form immediately below is preceded by an expanded/updated online version of this article.
Q&A on Covering Indoor Foam Insulation - PDF version, use your browser's back button to return to this page. Original article, Solar Age Magazine, September 1985, adapted and updated for InspectAPedia.com November 2010.
Note: some building code officials may accept fire-retardant spray paint coatings on spray-foam and possibly solid foam board insulation in some locations.
Watch out: do not rely on fire-retardant paints without approval from your local building and fire officials.
Continue reading at FOAM BOARD INSULATION TYPES - home, or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.
Try the search box below or CONTACT US by email if you cannot find the answer you need at InspectApedia.
Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia
Questions & answers or comments about exposed foam board building insulation & fire safety requirements.
Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.
Building Research Council, BRC, nee Small Homes Council, SHC, School of Architecture, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, brc.arch.uiuc.edu. "The Small Homes Council (our original name) was organized in 1944 during the war at the request of the President of the University of Illinois to consider the role of the university in meeting the demand for housing in the United States. Soldiers would be coming home after the war and would be needing good low-cost housing. ... In 1993, the Council became part of the School of Architecture, and since then has been known as the School of Architecture-Building Research Council. ... The Council's researchers answered many critical questions that would affect the quality of the nation's housing stock.
How could homes be designed and built more efficiently?
What kinds of construction and production techniques worked well and which did not?
How did people use different kinds of spaces in their homes?
What roles did community planning, zoning, and interior design play in how neighborhoods worked
"An Example of Colonial Paneling", Norman Morrison Isham, The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, Vol. 6, No. 5 (May, 1911), pp. 112-116, available by JSTOR.
"Energy Savers: Whole-House Supply Ventilation Systems [copy on file as /interiors/Energy_Savers_Whole-House_Supply_Vent.pdf ] - ", U.S. Department of Energy energysavers.gov/your_home/insulation_airsealing/index.cfm/mytopic=11880?print
"Energy Savers: Whole-House Exhaust Ventilation Systems [copy on file as /interiors/Energy_Savers_Whole-House_Exhaust.pdf ] - ", U.S. Department of Energy energysavers.gov/your_home/insulation_airsealing/index.cfm/mytopic=11870
"Energy Savers: Ventilation [copy on file as /interiors/Energy_Savers_Ventilation.pdf ] - ", U.S. Department of Energy
"Energy Savers: Natural Ventilation [copy on file as /interiors/Energy_Savers_Natural_Ventilation.pdf ] - ", U.S. Department of Energy
"Energy Savers: Energy Recovery Ventilation Systems [copy on file as /interiors/Energy_Savers_Energy_Recovery_Venting.pdf ] - ", U.S. Department of Energy energysavers.gov/your_home/insulation_airsealing/index.cfm/mytopic=11900
"Energy Savers: Detecting Air Leaks [copy on file as /interiors/Energy_Savers_Detect_Air_Leaks.pdf ] - ", U.S. Department of Energy
"Energy Savers: Air Sealing [copy on file as /interiors/Energy_Savers_Air_Sealing_1.pdf ] - ", U.S. Department of Energy
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: email@example.com. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Illustrated Home purchased as a single order Enter INSPECTAILL in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
TECHNICAL REFERENCE GUIDE to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment, useful for determining the age of heating boilers, furnaces, water heaters is provided by Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto - Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on these courses: Enter INSPECTAHITP in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
The Horizon Software System manages business operations,scheduling, & inspection report writing using Carson Dunlop's knowledge base & color images. The Horizon system runs on always-available cloud-based software for office computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, Android, & other smartphones