Polyurethane Foam

David B. South, president of Monolithic, is a self-taught, hands-on expert on polyurethane foam. In fact, if it were not for David’s discovery of polyurethane foam’s potential as a construction material, Monolithic Domes as we know them today probably would not exist.

In 1970, David received a beautiful statue that appeared to be carved of oak but was made of polyurethane foam. That material fascinated David, who immediately began attending informational seminars and gathering whatever documentation he could find.

The rest, as they say, is history because David began experimenting with sprayable foam as a major ingredient in dome structures.

Since then, David has authored The Polyurethane Foam Book that answers just about any question anyone may have about what David calls, “a magic material and the world’s best-kept insulation secret.”

In addition, David has written many articles, presented on our website and published by others, both in print and online.


R-value Fairy Tale: The Myth of Insulation Values

In the following sample chapter of the ebook Urethane Foam: Magic Material – And the Best Kept Insulation Secret, David explains why the R-value is misleading, how it was devised and why it’s flawed and biased. It also includes case histories and discusses the purpose and workings of insulation.

Polyurethane Foam Application

Rebar Hangers

It is imperative that you, the dome owner/builder, understand the basics of foam application to monitor the process and look for potential problems. This article describes the foam application process and could be given to a foam contractor so expectations are clear.

Insulated Footings: Thermal Break for Monolithic Domes

Joey is taping off the area just above where they intend to spray foam to avoid getting any overspray on the airform. They have dug a trench around the footing about 10 inches deep that will be insulated.

Generally, in the US, footings are not insulated. By not insulating the footing, we have a place where cold can enter our houses. Monolithic Dome builders may need to consider insulating footings of Monolithic Dome homes to provide a thermal break and reduce chances for condensation and/or mold growth.

Understanding Polyurethane Foam

One of the characteristics of polyurethane foam is density. Density equals how many pounds per cubic foot it weighs. So when we say we want two-pound density foam, it means we want two pounds per cubic foot of foam weight. This can be a little confusing.

Polyurethane Foam Insulation: An Alternative with Big Benefits

“Polyurethane foam is no stranger to us,” said Monolithic’s President David B. South in a recent discussion of home insulation at MDI headquarters in Italy, Texas. “After all, it’s a major component of the Monolithic Dome building process,” he continued. “But I’m still continually surprised by how little the construction industry and the average American homeowner know about this wonderful product.”

Foam: Fire Hazard and Fire Barrier

Fire damage from three wood structures and 300 gallons of transformer oil – Cargill – Channelview, TX
  A violent, wind-driven fire fueled by three wood structures and 300 gallons of transformer oil burned about a third of the covering off this fertilizer storage. The fire was the worst possible. Late at night, wind blew the fire directly toward the building. The fire department was not immediately called, so the oil burned completely. Damage was most severe to the exterior. In a 12-square-foot area, urethane was totally burned off, but the rest suffered more minor damage. The foam could be cleaned and a coating or metal cladding could be installed over it. No damage was detected on the inside of the Monolithic Dome.
  Note that the foam held the fire back for a considerable time, and then the nonflammable concrete ended any possibility of the flames burning through to the stored product. Materials inside the dome were totally unaffected by the fire, and the dome’s concrete interior never even got warm.

When sprayed on the interior of a building, with no covering such as shotcrete or drywall, polyurethane foam can create a dangerous fire hazard. Monolithic Domes are as close to fireproof as you can make a building with today’s technology. Yet they have urethane as a major component. Currently, urethane foam is the world’s best insulation, but let me tell you the rest of the story.

The Polyurethane Foam Book

David B. South, President of Monolithic, has plenty to say on the subject of Polyurethane Foam. What began as a fascination in 1969 turned into bread and butter by 1971.