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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Hi,

I have come across a beautiful sailboat that has been insulated with sprayed on Polyurethane foam. Some reviews call it solid gasoline for its fire risk, releases cyanide gas on ignition and soaks up water like a sponge.

Is the one used in boats a special non flammable type?

Does this sound like a good idea or just a way to cover problems?
 

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Look up the difference between polyisocyanurate and polyurethane foams and make sure what was actually used in this case. Is it a steel boat? They often have foam sprayed inside to try to prevent rust. If the hull is prepared properly and the spraying done properly, this means that the hull will rust elsewhere first, before rusting inside. Foam is even better than paint for covering up problems, but it doesn't necessarily mean that there are problems being covered up. That is what makes boat buying so exciting.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Look up the difference between polyisocyanurate and polyurethane foams and make sure what was actually used in this case. Is it a steel boat? They often have foam sprayed inside to try to prevent rust. If the hull is prepared properly and the spraying done properly, this means that the hull will rust elsewhere first, before rusting inside. Foam is even better than paint for covering up problems, but it doesn't necessarily mean that there are problems being covered up. That is what makes boat buying so exciting.
Thanks Paulk, It is a rollercoaster, thank you for the hope. It's a fiberglass, lived in boat, so this was a way for the owner to deal with condensation. Maybe cabin and deck fiberglass are fine. Another red flag is that the boat bottom has been sanded down to the fiberglass to get rid of some blistering that was starting to happen with the plan, to prime it again and paint to the waterline. I saw it on the dock and it looks strong but...
 

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The fact that the bottom has been sanded down to the glass should not be considered a "red flag". Blisters happen, and need to be fixed. The important thing is that the bottom is properly barrier coated again after the repair.

I don't know about the spray on insulation, but I am thinking that if you have a fire on board there are a whole lot of things that will produce toxic smoke. If you are still on board while the boat burns, you've got big problems regardless of the insulation. I doubt it will make a fire any more likely to start than if it wasn't there.

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
The fact that the bottom has been sanded down to the glass should not be considered a "red flag". Blisters happen, and need to be fixed. The important thing is that the bottom is properly barrier coated again after the repair.

I don't know about the spray on insulation, but I am thinking that if you have a fire on board there are a whole lot of things that will produce toxic smoke. If you are still on board while the boat burns, you've got big problems regardless of the insulation. I doubt it will make a fire any more likely to start than if it wasn't there.

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Ok, that sounds promising. It is a gorgeous boat, best one we've seen by far. The bottom paint is left for me to do after the gel coat was sandblasted. I've seen the hull and keel, I need to prime it and paint it, but at least I know what is there instead of just guessing. And most boats need a coat of antifouling anyway.

Do you think is any problem that the bottom has been left in the yard without the gelcoat since July last year? It looks dry from the outside.
 

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The fact that the bottom has been sanded down to the glass should not be considered a "red flag". Blisters happen, and need to be fixed. The important thing is that the bottom is properly barrier coated again after the repair.

I don't know about the spray on insulation, but I am thinking that if you have a fire on board there are a whole lot of things that will produce toxic smoke. If you are still on board while the boat burns, you've got big problems regardless of the insulation. I doubt it will make a fire any more likely to start than if it wasn't there.
Based on what? The ignition and flame spread properties of light-weight polyurethane foam are vastly different to wood or fiberglass that would be normal inside a boat. Look up the video from the station nightclub fire.. Yes it's basically gasoline, with some air mixed in. FWIW exposed PU would not be allowed in buildings..

And it's not about whether you'd survive being onboard during the fire, it's about the fire growth rate and how much time is available for egress.
 

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The bottom paint is left for me to do after the gel coat was sandblasted. I've seen the hull and keel, I need to prime it and paint it, but at least I know what is there instead of just guessing. And most boats need a coat of antifouling anyway.

Do you think is any problem that the bottom has been left in the yard without the gelcoat since July last year? It looks dry from the outside.
The paint that needs to get onto the bottom first is an epoxy Barrier Coat. Then you can think about antifouling.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
The paint that needs to get onto the bottom first is an epoxy Barrier Coat. Then you can think about antifouling.
Yes, I plan to smooth the surface with epoxy, then 5 coats of interprotect 2000E then 3 coats of interlux antifouling.

That part I can do, it doesn't worry me too much. But I think, I would want to try to get as much cabin foam out as I can, to at least minimize the hazard.

I am asking the owner about the exact type of foam used to do further research. It is Polyurethane, but maybe there is a version with retardant that I don't know.
 

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Yes, I plan to smooth the surface with epoxy, then 5 coats of interprotect 2000E then 3 coats of interlux antifouling.
I did a job like this a long time ago after getting advice from a boatbuilder. After getting down to the bare fiberglass, I used a couple coats of clear epoxy—Interlux 1000 (at the time)—before using an epoxy fairing coat. I then followed with more than 5 coats of Interlux 2000, which does not built up that fast, requiring lots of coats. I then used 3 coats of Interlux ablative antifouling. I didn’t have to apply maintenance antifouling for 5 years after that.

FWIW, the Interlux products have improved since then, but you can save yourself a lot of work by observing the maximum time between coats without having to sand. Following the Interlux directions in this regard is well worth the effort to schedule your coating applications.

Good luck with your project. It is definitely within the capability of a do-it-yourselver if you follow the directions provided by Interlux, assuming the underlying fiberglass is sound.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
I did a job like this a long time ago after getting advice from a boatbuilder. After getting down to the bare fiberglass, I used a couple coats of clear epoxy—Interlux 1000 (at the time)—before using an epoxy fairing coat. I then followed with more than 5 coats of Interlux 2000, which does not built up that fast, requiring lots of coats. I then used 3 coats of Interlux ablative antifouling. I didn’t have to apply maintenance antifouling for 5 years after that.

FWIW, the Interlux products have improved since then, but you can save yourself a lot of work by observing the maximum time between coats without having to sand. Following the Interlux directions in this regard is well worth the effort to schedule your coating applications.

Good luck with your project. It is definitely within the capability of a do-it-yourselver if you follow the directions provided by Interlux, assuming the underlying fiberglass is sound.
The fiberglass looks solid, I found a few pin holes to treat. It's good to see the bear bones of the boat. I found out more about the foam and is class 1 fire rating, so no worries there either.

Something that I have been thinking is if sanding away the Gelcoal could weaken the structure of the Hull?
 

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Yes, I plan to smooth the surface with epoxy, then 5 coats of interprotect 2000E then 3 coats of interlux antifouling.

That part I can do, it doesn't worry me too much. But I think, I would want to try to get as much cabin foam out as I can, to at least minimize the hazard.

I am asking the owner about the exact type of foam used to do further research. It is Polyurethane, but maybe there is a version with retardant that I don't know.
Fire retardant treatments for PU does exist, but usually only improve (slightly) the ignition and flame spread properties. Once involved in a fire it does little. Don't quote me on this since I haven't studied furniture fires in a little while, but as far as I know the improvements are pretty minor. The retardants used also contain bromines or other toxic chemicals so now the fire effluents are even worse (probably matters little since you'd likely be dead if you inhale significant smoke in a boat anyway). As you said polymers also release HCN gas which can increase CO uptake and knock you unconscious at low concentrations, much lower than for CO. Again if you breathe enough that this is an issue it might be too late anyway, though not always. In fire investigations we do look at HCN concentrations in victims.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Fire retardant treatments for PU does exist, but usually only improve (slightly) the ignition and flame spread properties. Once involved in a fire it does little. Don't quote me on this since I haven't studied furniture fires in a little while, but as far as I know the improvements are pretty minor. The retardants used also contain bromines or other toxic chemicals so now the fire effluents are even worse (probably matters little since you'd likely be dead if you inhale significant smoke in a boat anyway). As you said polymers also release HCN gas which can increase CO uptake and knock you unconscious at low concentrations, much lower than for CO. Again if you breathe enough that this is an issue it might be too late anyway, though not always. In fire investigations we do look at HCN concentrations in victims.
Thank you Scandium, the foam used was Touch and Foam and is described as CCMC Listed, Class 1 fire resistance. Do you have information on its safety?
 

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Thank you Scandium, the foam used was Touch and Foam and is described as CCMC Listed, Class 1 fire resistance. Do you have information on its safety?
Sorry I'm not terribly knowledgeable about fire testing of products so I don't know about that one. It appears that refers to classifications that allows exposed installations in attics and crawl spaces, without an ignition barrier. How safe does that make it in a boat? Can't say, unfortunately. It does sound like this is not the intended use of the product (if it's exposed on the inside walls of the boat?), but how much that increases you hazard I don't know. The manufacturer claims it will "self-extinguishing when flame is removed", but without knowing what kind of flame that means little. I suppose you could always call Touch 'n Seal/dab and ask what they think about this install. It does sound a bit strange..

It appears that Touch ‘n Seal and Touch ‘n Foam are two different products. Foam is the stuff you spray around windows and should not be used to insulate walls. Seal is for insulating attics, and is the fire rated one. I assume that's what the owners used.

Would I buy the boat? Not sure. It's well insulated at least:) The foam is claimed to be safe. I'd definitely get some smoke alarms, and be extra careful with ignition sources. (check your wiring if it runs behind/inside the foam!)
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Sorry I'm not terribly knowledgeable about fire testing of products so I don't know about that one. It appears that refers to classifications that allows exposed installations in attics and crawl spaces, without an ignition barrier. How safe does that make it in a boat? Can't say, unfortunately. It does sound like this is not the intended use of the product (if it's exposed on the inside walls of the boat?), but how much that increases you hazard I don't know. The manufacturer claims it will "self-extinguishing when flame is removed", but without knowing what kind of flame that means little. I suppose you could always call Touch 'n Seal/dab and ask what they think about this install. It does sound a bit strange..

It appears that Touch ‘n Seal and Touch ‘n Foam are two different products. Foam is the stuff you spray around windows and should not be used to insulate walls. Seal is for insulating attics, and is the fire rated one. I assume that's what the owners used.

Would I buy the boat? Not sure. It's well insulated at least:) The foam is claimed to be safe. I'd definitely get some smoke alarms, and be extra careful with ignition sources. (check your wiring if it runs behind/inside the foam!)
Thank you very much Scandium, It's a great idea to contact the manufacturing company. I think that regardless of is safety, I should try to remove as much as I can from all the accessible areas. It is not all over the boat and the most difficult area would be the V Berth, which has no wiring through as far as I can tell, except maybe for the pilot lights in front. I need to check that.
 

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Thank you very much Scandium, It's a great idea to contact the manufacturing company. I think that regardless of is safety, I should try to remove as much as I can from all the accessible areas. It is not all over the boat and the most difficult area would be the V Berth, which has no wiring through as far as I can tell, except maybe for the pilot lights in front. I need to check that.
If you do remove some put a lighter, or blowtorch, to it and see how well it burns:) If it really is non-combustible under normal circumstances maybe you'll want to keep it. If it bursts into flame with thick black smoke maybe not..
 

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Discussion Starter #17
If you do remove some put a lighter, or blowtorch, to it and see how well it burns:) If it really is non-combustible under normal circumstances maybe you'll want to keep it. If it bursts into flame with thick black smoke maybe not..
Lol, yes I was going to do that, is pretty easy to cut out a piece. I just wrote to touch and foam too, to ask about the fire risk. I doubled check the product and it's the sealant variety.
 

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Lol, yes I was going to do that, is pretty easy to cut out a piece. I just wrote to touch and foam too, to ask about the fire risk. I doubled check the product and it's the sealant variety.
Great, please let us know what they say.
As mentioned it was my sense that the fire rating test was for attics and non-occupied spaces. Where the code assume people, and hence many ignition sources, don't go regularly (not to say there aren't any). So I'd guess the manufacturer says this is a non-approved install, but who knows.

edit: and if you want to help the field of fire science (and my job;)) also post the result of your ignition test :D
 

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Insulation rated OK for return air plenums are much less hazardous.

I'd want to get more info on the firm did the job, is that application pretty common, at least mainstream, etc,

in what country was the work performed? Did insurance know about it?

If all that passes the smell test, likely no need to become an expert yourself, just exercising a bit extra caution probably more than makes up for it.
 

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I have no idea about the flame properties of this foam however I do have significant experience in marine fire investigation. There are few things more toxic and harder to extinguish than burning polyester resin. If your boat catches fire and you can't get it out in two minutes ...... get off the boat, foam or no foam.
 
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