Recyclable and biodegradable are two terms that can get confused. We’re here to help understand the difference.
Let’s start off with the term: recyclable. The definition from dictionary.com states…
Recyclable: to treat or process (used or waste materials) so as to make suitable for reuse.
YES! Our material EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) is made of 98% air and is an inert material without harmful chemicals that off-gas or leach during its use of disposal. EPS is 100% recyclable. Many EPS users do not know of it’s recycling capability.
By The Numbers (2016 Domestic EPS Recycling):
The EPS Industry Alliance shares Airpop® (EPS) packaging recycling stats.
- 63 million pounds Post-Consumer
- 55.7 million pounds Post-Industrial
Biodegradable: capable of being decomposed by bacteria or other living organisms.
Biodegradable is a different concept. EPS breaks down slowly making it a non-viable biodegradable product. Common substances that are biodegradable include food scraps, cotton, wool, wood, human and animal waste.
Although EPS is not biodegradable, it can be recycled and reused. We are a proud industry supporter of this initiative in conjunction with our own sustainability efforts.
The biggest concern of condensation and its effects can be quit worrying for building owners and construction professionals. Water that forms in a system can cause damage such as:
✓ Corrosion of metal panels and components which can structural weaken the system
✓ Degraded and wet insulation reducing thermal performance
✓ Mold and/or mildew growth that can increase health risks
✓ Insect infestation which can contaminate systems
Condensation tends to occur in noticeable quantities and cause problems at surfaces where there is a sudden change of permeance, which causes an increase in local relative humidity sufficient to create dew point conditions. Condensation in metal roofs can be caused by air leaks around units, holes in vapor barriers/retarders, gaps in insulation just to name a few and no system is bullet proof. “Moisture moves by several mechanisms, including bulk drainage, diffusion (absorption), surface diffusion (absorption), capillarity, osmosis and convection.”
Condensation can occurs on a hygroscopic surface, such as wooden sheathing or insulation, then moisture is absorbed, lowering the vapor pressure and increasing the vapor pressure gradient, driving more moisture toward that surface.
Picking an insulation that is resistant to moisture and help stop condensation is important, but no insulation is 100% waterproof. When Polyisocyanurate (Polyiso/ISO) or Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) gets wet, they dramatically loss their thermal effectiveness. Engineered Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) has the ability to resist moisture but when it get wet has the ability to expel moisture. Most metal roofing systems are not waterproof but rather watersheds. Therefore, air can travel and flow through the upper metal roof system allowing drying to occur. Learn More Here is the Secret: EPS is the BEST Insulation Solution for Metal Roofs because it can expel moisture caused by condensation. EPS's R-value will stay stable and be an overall better value.
View our Metal Roofing Products
Continuous Insulation, is defined as, “insulation that is continuous across all structural members without thermal bridges other than fasteners and service openings.” More important is the fact that Continuous Insulation increases R-value performance due to the non-interruption of wooden or steel studs.
“Furring out” a wall with studs or furring strips and then filling in the gaps with insulation is still a common method used on interior and exterior walls. Every stud used, lowers the R-value and thermal loss and/or thermal bridging occurs at this intersections. Advancement in understanding performance R-value through continuous insulation has lead to the importance of Gold-Wall. The advantage of Gold-Wall is not only a Continuous Insulation system, but it has the built in ability to allow for finishing attachments. These finishing attachments can be interior drywall or exterior clad siding like vinyl or steel. The possibilities are almost endless.
Gold-Wall, with its built in surface attachment stud, can be installed easily to most type of masonry walls. Gold-Wall can also be attached to steel studs, wood framing or even OSB/Plywood surfaces. Gold-Wall comes with a high performance poly facer laminated to the moisture resistant EPS foam board which increases durability, fastener holding and impact resistance.
Gold-Wall may be perfect for your next Continuous Insulation project. Learn More
Foundation insulation may be easy to overlook as many building professionals may be going under to old adage, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." The serious reality is that in cold weather climates any structure that has a foundation that touch soil such as basements or frost walls needs to viewed differently in regards to moisture management.
Foundation insulation can be used for a variety of reason but the most important is R-Value. This is where it gets interesting - what does Moisture Management have to do with R-Value? Its all about building performance in real world applications.
We can explore permeability and the Laws of Thermodynamics and go very technical but for now most people know that when insulation gets wet, the R-Value of the insulation is reduced. This lowering of R-Value is a performance issue.
A new way to view and understand foundation insulation comes from a moisture study. This study looked at the two most commonly used insulation for below grade - XPS (Extruded Polystyrene - pink or blue) and EPS (Expanded Polystyrene - white). Three relevant items of note come from that study. First, XPS lost about 1/2 of its R-Value below grade and EPS held almost all of its R-Value. Second, it was found and further studied that EPS takes on a little more moisture than XPS but EPS insulation has the ability to dispel it. Third, for some anomaly in physics, that we don’t quite understand, EPS even with moisture, tends to hold its R-value. (Learn More from the research)
So now that we know what happens to insulation below grade how does that all tie back into Moisture Management? If you are not going to 100% envelope or water proof your below grade insulation or below grade wall system, EPS insulation should be used 100% of the time. Remember, the goal of Moisture Management - keeping a building lasting longer and performing properly - Its all about performance. If you want your below grade insulation performing properly and its going to be left “unenveloped," the best Moisture Management choice is EPS.
Breaking away from the norm and thinking out side the box is what Lumber Sales & Products, Jackson, Wisconsin strived to accomplish. Using a wood stove and in-floor heating is beyond normal construction and took special design and engineering.
Instead of using the traditional pink or blue XPS insulation, Engineered EPS was used as the insulation beneath the concrete to dramatically help save energy. Not only does the EPS work better, but the cost savings was almost 30%. The cost savings for just the insulation was over $15,000. In addition, the saving on the supply lines, using EPS, was $7 per linear foot.
Often these types of projects are specified using XPS insulation because of the myth that EPS is not as good or somehow the hot water running through the pex will melt the insulation. The reality is EPS is a far better product in this application and the cost saving is just an additional benefit. Once the merits of Plymouth Foam Engineered EPS systems are reviewed, the substitution is usually welcome and accepted. Read the entire Job Profile
In high school, I remember watching the track team race around the track. One runner Peter, a farm kid, was fascinating to watch as he always grabbed the early lead. Peter always looked so fast but in the end he would typically finish in 3rd or 4th place. In that moment, early in the race, Peter looked like a world class athlete that would easily win gold at the Olympics. In those early moments, that frozen time, the measure of performance was perfect.
Thirty-six years later and I see the same thing happening in the rigid insulation market. Its like watching Polyiso, and XPS insulation running just like Peter, getting off to a tremendous lead regarding R-value, but then fading out at the end. That perfect moment in time is when that R-value gets measured and they look like superheroes but in reality they just “blowhards.” Pardon the pun as the blowing agent escapes and lowers the r-value. (LEARN WHY)
When it comes to below grade or roofing insulation, Polyiso and XPS start out with really good R-value numbers but they don’t last (LEARN MORE). Unfortunately, you pay for these early performance numbers, sometimes as much as 50% more. Paying for performance isn’t bad but not knowing that the product will fade out is a different matter.
The old idiom, “slow and steady wins the race” really holds true in insulation. EPS might start out slow (or lower r-value) but is consistent through its life and ultimately wins the race. Not only does EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) have a steady consistent R-Value but when compared with XPS and Polyiso, it also performs better in the field. XPS and Polyiso, when wet, hold the moisture and loss much of its r-value. EPS has the ability to hold its r-value and even expel moisture under exsiccate conditions.
Next time, when you’re looking to specify or install insulation on a project, remember that Polyiso and XPS look great at the beginning but EPS is the steady performer and the best value in rigid insulation. Your customer deserves the winner - EPS.
PIP Packs can be used as a backer with compatible spray foams. Using EPS rigid insulation can reduce system costs in a spray foam application as the amount and spray foam thickness necessary to fill a cavity or meet r-value requirements can be reduced. Combining the stableness of EPS and the tightness of spray foam, one can create a very effective system.
What are the advantage to using EPS Rigid Insulation
- Good Insulator
- Best Rigid Insulation Value
- Low Moisture Absorption
- Long-Term R-Value Stability
- 100% Recyclable
- Does Not Leach into Surrounding Soils
- Contain No Ozone Depleting Chemicals
- Does Not Promote Mold or Mildew
- Our EPS is Made in USA
Learn More About Advantage to EPS
Gold-Wall has many application possibilities. It can be used to "insulate and fur out" concrete block, poured concrete, pre-cast, tilt up or almost any other masonry installation. Gold-Wall works well on walls, roofs, ceilings, shafts, stairwells, basements and can provide a more efficient insulating system. Gold-Wall can even be used in residential wall application to provide more r-value on the exterior wall, yet provide a fastening surface for claddings such as cement board. The application possibilities almost seem endless. Gold-Wall has so many uses and benefits it is no wonder why it is a Top Construction Product.
Unlike traditional Z-furring Gold-Wall offers a plethora of advantages:
- Eliminates Thermal Bridging and Increases R-value
- Faster Installation which Reduces Labor Costs
- Dimensionally Stable R-Value Due to No Off-gassing
- Strong Studs for Secure Placement
- Eliminated Adhesive Issues and Bonding Weakness
- Ready for Drywall or other Claddings Installations
- Can Easily Accommodate Wiring and Electrical Boxes
- Provides a Vapor Retarder Perm Rating of 0.07
- Dual Polymeric Facers to Increase Durability
- Help Eliminate Mold Issues due to Condensation
Gold-Wall has one more new advantage, Graphite Polystyrene (GPS). Gold-Wall now comes with the addition of GPS insulation as an option, which provides even more r-value. GPS insulation infuses graphite particles into the polystyrene cell structure allowing it to reflect and absorb energy providing an even more energy efficient product.
Learn More about Gold-Wall.
Plymouth Foam announced in January 2016, that they have developed a new line of insulation products called Graphite Polystyrene (GPS). Working with BASF’s Neopor Plus ® this new foam insulation board delivers a stable higher R-value by infusing high-purity graphite particles into the Expanded Polystyrene cell structure. This new product has been tested and results conclude an R-value of 5.3 R/per inch* at 40 deg.
*The technical and physical metrics provided in this table are reference values for insulation products made of Neopor GPS.
The values and properties may vary depending on how they are processed and produced. The R-value properties are based on 1-1/32 in thickness.
The new innovative GPS foundation insulation certainly inhibits all the characteristics that make it an equal or better than equal to XPS insulation. In fact, GPS is far superior to XPS in a more stable r-value (see below grade insulation study), has the ability to expel moisture and even holds most of its r-value when wet. On the of other hand, XPS’s r-value decreases when the blowing agent escapes and when it gets wet.
The conclusion is simple, it is time start specifying Plymouth Foam’s GPS insulation for those foundations insulation needs.
The real question maybe why? and why another change after last year’s change? The answer is independent testing. According to research conducted by BSC (Building Science Corporation) and others, “the thermal performance of some insulation materials changes as they age. The R-Value of Polyisocyanurate decreases as some of the gasses … diffuse out and are replaced by air.” This is known by several names - Thermal Drift, Gas Replacement Process or Off Gassing.
What the research has shown is that unlike EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) Insulation that increases its R-Value when the temperature decreases, ISO Insulation R-Value actually goes down. Bottom line: In the north, when you need the r-value the most, its not there like we thought.
• If you need to use ISO - the BCS Recommendation is to use it in a “hybrid insulation approach” with a cold stable R-Value insulation like EPS.
• Try to substitute out ISO Insulation and use EPS or the New Neopor Plus Insulation.