Most spray-foam insulation is installed correctly, but as an industry consultant I’ve inspected SPF projects that have left me scratching my head in wonder. Sometimes the foam is cracked or delaminated, indicating an improper mix or poor substrate preparation; in other cases, there’s too much overspray. Occasionally the foam is properly installed but applied in the wrong place or at the wrong thickness; sometimes there is a vapor retarder when one isn’t required, or a required one is missing.

A decade ago, most SPF problems could be traced back to equipment issues. But with the recent expansion of the spray-foam industry, I’m also seeing a growing number of application defects made by inexperienced or poorly trained installers. Faced with job competition, some installers may be trying to cut costs by taking shortcuts, or they may be...

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