News From Go Plymouth Foam

Metal Roof Retrofits- Insulate the weakness?

For many customers, metal roofs were to be the end all to roofing problems. Unfortunetly, I see 1000's of building owner trying to solve their metal roofing leaks.

The most popular solution is adding some insulation and retrofitting a new roof membrane over the top. This is were roof insulation
Flute Fillers play an important role. Not only do they add R-value to the system but they can transition a flat surface for a new roof retrofit system. I typically see flute filler level with the top of the ribs/seams and one additional layer on top of that smoothly bridging the top of the ribs/seams. The question is can this system be improved upon?

The one area of thermal weakness in this system is where the original metal roof has seams (connection point of the two pieces of metal roof) that allow heat loss at those points. By installing only one layer of insulation over these seams, it allows for the potential of thermal loss at these junctures were the insulation joints meet these metal roof seams. This thermal loss could cause condensation and stress the membrane disproportionately causing future issues.

Metal Roof Retrofit Weakness Metal Roof Retrofit Weakness with system

Some may say, there is insulation under the metal roof system already, those joints don't leak heat. Really? Take an infrared camera and scan that metal roof and look at the seams, you might be surprised what you find.

There are two solutions to fix this potential problem with retrofitting over a metal roof. The first solution is to add another layer of insulation and offset the joints. The second solution is to use
Plymouth Foams RetroDeck™ with a cover board. This system has a built in seam offset. No roofing system is perfect, but eliminating as many potential problems can help a roof system last longer creating better value for our customers.

EIFS What To Know: Increase your knowledge and lower your risk.

The fastest way a construction contractor can increase their risk on a project is to not staying in control of knowledge of a building system - especially high liability systems.

You’re bidding on a project and EIFS (Exterior Insulated and Finish Systems) is specified in the building package. Who do you rely on that it specified, bid and installed correctly? Where does the buck stop?

EIFS has make huge advancements in technology, systems and installation details. The biggest advancement for our northern climates has been drainage or moisture management. Advanced design EIFS systems use a drainage cavity to move unwanted moisture out. This concept is monumental and removes many of the old design flaws with EIFS.

Here is where knowledge can lower your risk and pay off for you.
Insist that your EIFS system only uses EPS insulation. Why?

Lower Your Risk

Good building practices and todays advanced EIFS systems' goals are to discharge any stray moisture as quickly as possible. What about when that moisture finds its way into the insulation? Good Question! We know from
studies that XPS (Extruded Polystyrene) insulation has a difficult time discharging moisture. Moisture in EIFS systems can cause serious system failures such as cracking, blistering, peeling paint, structural rotting and even mold. EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) insulation, on the other hand, has the ability to breath and release off moisture much quicker. In test situation, EPS also has the ability to hold most of its R-value, where XPS losses 48%.

EPS Moisture management is a great reason to insist on EPS insulation in your EIFS system but here are a few more:

  • EPS can be made into a variety of shapes
  • EPS can be made in various thicknesses
  • EPS can be made in various densities
  • EPS offers a consistent R-value
  • EPS is the Safe Insulation - no harmful HFCs
  • EPS is 100% Recyclable
  • EPS is a Better Value and Lower Cost

This is one of those cases where a less expensive product is much better and can lower your risk.

Learn more about EIFS

Christmas is the Time of Giving and Recycling

‘Tis the season to create more garbage. That's right, American’s throw away 25% more trash between Thanksgiving and New Years than any other time of the year. Just think of the holiday cards, shipping boxes and even gift wrapping most going into the garbage.

I noticed this year, Home Depot is making a big deal out of trying to reduce EPS (“styrofoam”) out of some of they're packaging and just substituting other plastics. They think it is great, I think it is foolish. That new packaged Home Depot christmas gift that doesn’t have EPS but cardboard and plastic, where does that packaging end up? After Christmas this year, look though people’s trash and you will discover that much of the paper and cardboard that can be recycled is not. Why? What did Home Depot gain?

New packaging

Let’s talk about EPS for just a minute. There are recycling centers all over the US just for EPS. In fact, there are over 200 EPS collection centers and growing. Last year in 2016, over 118 million pound of EPS was recycled. That is a ton considering EPS doesn’t weigh that much as 98% of the product is air.

They say, Americans are lazy and we need stuff that is biodegradable to put in the landfills. They don’t think we are smart enough or motivated enough to recycle EPS. I think Americans are smart enough but we certainly could do a better job of educating the public on all these EPS recycling centers. We could do a better job of letting the public know that EPS is a resource rather than garbage. That EPS is 100% recyclable just like aluminum cans. We need to push our local municipalities to add
Number 6 to our recycle bins. (Click on the Video below, it is really eye-opening.)

So this Holiday Season, I am adding to the phrase “Peace on Earth” to Peace on Earth and please recycle your EPS.

Learn More Plymouth Foam Recycle Center
Nation Wide Drop Off Centers
Video Recycling EPS

Peace on Earth please recycle your EPS

Stopping Condensation in Metal Roof - What's the Secret?

Metal roofs over the past 10 years have exploded onto the construction sites. The ongoing problems and frustration for building contractors and design professionals of condensation in metal roofs has only increased exponentially. Solving this issue can be very difficult. Let's explore the benefits to rigid insulation and a secret, not known by many, in the building industry.

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 and metal roofs

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

The Perfect Continous Insulation System

The push for higher energy efficiency in commercial buildings is growing, driven in part, by the new energy codes. Another factor has been the Department of Energy studying of R-value in various wall systems and disseminating that information. The study called “Whole Wall R-value,” has lead to a better understanding and promotion of Continuous Insulation.

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.

Gold-Wall Cut Away Drawing 2

“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

The Secret Moisture Control Leak - a dynamic new strategy.

The majority of recent technical discussions in building construction have been around Moisture Management. Many articles have been written on drainage plains, building enveloping and vapor retarders. The goal for moisture management is to keep a building lasting longer and performing properly. One area of moisture control or moisture management that has been neglected is foundation insulation.

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.

Moisture Management Stop the insanity

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.

Plymouth Foam Takes on Recycle Challenge

Recycle Today for a Better Tomorrow - Plymouth Foam is living that statement by expanding it's recycling program. Plymouth Foam has always done recycling but now it is opening up a Consumer Recycle Center, in Plymouth, WI to the general public. In fact, it doesn't even have to be Plymouth Foam's Expanded Polystyrene. The new Consumer Recycle Center was opened on April 22, which was Earth Day.

Plymouth Foam Recycle

What if you're a contractor and you want to recycle your foam? Plymouth Foam has a program to help with larger quantities of EPS Foam. (Learn More - How to) Plymouth Foam encourages recycling of construction EPS. "The biggest challenge is educating contractors on how to recycle foam."

Plymouth Foam is working on educating the public that EPS is "the Safe Insulation" and is 100% recyclable. In fact, in 2013 over 34% of post consumer EPS was recycled, that is over 127 million pounds. (
Learn More about Why EPS is so Green)

Plymouth Foam Recycle Center
1800 Sunset Dr.
Plymouth, WI 53073

Swimming Pool Geofoam Project -not too deep to revitalize

Pool 1

The Ashwaubenon Community and School District faced a dilemma - what do you do with an indoor pool that is over 48 years old and has outlived its expected life? Think “outside of the pool” and fill it in with Plymouth Foam’s Durafill GeoFoam and give new life to the building!

Restoring this aged pool was not a viable option as there were too few of lanes and replacement parts were no longer available. The community decided to build a new pool, but what do you do with the old one?

The building that housed the pool was still in good condition. Filling it in with Engineered EPS Foam and pouring 5” of concrete on top “gives this building a new purpose.” This new area will be used as a commons area with tables and chairs for students to eat lunch.

Like all schools districts, needs change. Filling the pool in with foam has a number of possibilities for the district. Foam can be removed and the area can be repurposed for maybe stadium seating or a performance stage. The possibilities are endless.

Pool 2

Filling in a pool sound easy, but reducing in-fill weights and loading pressures of traditional fills such as gravel or stone can be impractical or unachievable. Geofoam to the resue, however filling in a pool with different depths and various slopes is not an easy task.

Boldt Construction’s design team working together with Plymouth Foam Geofoam Consultant, John Calkins, and was able to offer DuraFill Geofoam blocks that were manufactured in various sizes to fit to the contour of the pool. The pieces were labeled and shop drawings were used to install the pieces. Boldt Construction was the general contractor and they “did an excellant job of making the pieces work and come together.”

Using a local contractor and a local manufacturer has many benefits for the local ecomony. Tax money collected for the school district is being spent locally and benefits from the “local multiplier effect.” This multiplier means the money is recirculated 3-5 times in the local economy and is a key tool for creating more local jobs. The school district saved money on transportation cost since the manufacturing facility is less than 75 miles away - now that is “thinking outside the pool.”

Why is Expanded Polystyrene Insulation Market Growing.

Why is Expanded Polystyrene Insulation Market Growing.

The article, “North America Building Thermal Insulation Market Worth $10.75 Billion By 2025” by Grand View Research states that there will be a growing insulation demand in residential and commercial applications due to the increasing energy costs driving the demand. In 2015, the North America building thermal insulation market was valued at $7.09 billion creating an increase of $3.66 billion over the next nine years.
How can the rising demand for thermal insulation reduce energy costs?
Good question.
In the sense every building product associated with residential or commercial applications help reduce energy cost; thermal insulation materials assist in reducing heat buildup within the buildings, cutting down on the dependence on air conditioning.
EPS has been a popular product in Europe and now has good attention in North America; expecting to be the fastest growing product segment because of the excellent thermal insulation properties and longer life span. EPS accounted for 23.5% of share by volume in 2015 and expected to increase 1.5% by 2025 (shown in the image below).

EPS market share

Product market share, by revenue (USD Million), 2015 (USD Million)
Having new construction and implementation of energy efficiency codes are likely to result in high industry rivalry perceiving slow but stable growth in the industry.

What Insulation is the Best in Roofing?

I get asked this question all the time, but the answer is much more complicated. Its fun to go back historically and look at why insulation was introduced into roofs in the first place. It was fairly simple back then, the waterproofing was to keep water out and the insulation was to keep people warm. Today, insulation is so much more and that is why to answer which insulation is the best, we need to look at the most important attributes of the two most popular roofing insulations - Polyisocyanurate and Expanded Polystyrene.


      • R-Value

R-value is more than the R-value per inch. Polyisocyanurate (ISO), starts out with a higher r-value per inch, but then the blowing agents escapes and the R-value is reduced. (learn more) Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) has a lower R-value per inch but can be make thicker to match any R-value requirement. EPS’s R-value increase in colder temperature while ISO decreases. Many would give ISO the edge because of R/inch, but taking into consideration overpaying for R-value that does not stay stable in lower temperature, the advantage has to good to EPS.

      • Environmentally Friendly
ISO uses a “harmful” blowing agent which escapes into the surrounding area and no one knows for sure what the health effects are on humans. EPS does not use harmful blowing agents and is known as the “safe insulation.” EPS insulation is also 100% recyclable where ISO is not. EPS is by fair the greener product. (learn more)

      • Combustion
This gets complicated because EPS has a fire retarder that is in the product and thermal boards, like drywall can be used to make it even more fire resistant. Remember, EPS can go Direct to Deck and has UL approved. ISO by its very chemical makeup is more fire resistant. The question maybe, if ISO does catch on fire what is the chemical by-product that are produced when that product burns and how harmful is that to humans? ISO has the slight advantage on fire but EPS has the advantage on by-product. (learn more)

      • Cost
You can’t have a material discussion without looking at the cost element. This is not even close EPS is a much better value than ISO any way you measure, including cost per R-value inch. (learn more)

      • Design Flexibility
Roof design can be looked at in numerous ways such as thickness restrictions and tapered possibilities. ISO is very limited in thickness per board. High R-value systems make ISO more labor intensive as it need so many layer to comply. One EPS board can go up to 200 R. ISO is limited in tapered slope possibilities usually 3. EPS on the other hand is almost unlimited. EPS can use insulation shapes (example rounded) that ISO just can’t match. Design flexibility goes to EPS.

      • Moisture Retention
Roof leaks can cause moisture to enter into a roofing system. When exposed to the same test as EPS, ISO absorbs much more moisture and has a difficult time expelling it. The ISO glass facers are even more prone to moisture absorption. EPS can absorb moisture but two anomalies make it so desirable - one it can expel moisture and two moisture has little effect the R-value. EPS has the advantage. (learn more)

Expanded Polystyrene, when compared to polyisocyanurate, certainly has more reason to be use in roofing. It seems over the last few years, many designer have lost sight of the purpose of insulation and the importance of R-value long-term. Some designer only considered combustibility and its superior importance, when in all likely hood this physical property will never ever be used. A feature such as long-term R-value, which performs daily in that system, or even moisture expelling capability, get lower considerations. When all of the major features of insulation are considered, EPS seems to be the clear winner.

Local College ramps up savings and cuts build time

Wisconsin Lutheran College located, at 88th and Bluemound, in Milwaukee, WI is one of the fastest growing and most affordable college in Wisconsin. With the student body increasing, the need for additional parking was greatly desired.

Screen Shot 2016-10-31 at 1.49.13 PM Screen Shot 2016-10-31 at 1.49.41 PM

Wisconsin Lutheran College is nestled between a beautiful Wauwatosa neighborhood and a busy Freodtert Hospital Campus. Designing and building a structure for parking needed to fit into the community and yet be functional. The end result was mentioned by a local official, “this may be one of the most beautiful parking structures in the county.”

Designed by HGA Architure and Engineering, this state of the art, 4 level Parking Center has the ability to hold 350 vehicles. Security and safety was built into the project for the users with an abundance of lighting and a security station. Another great feature to this parking center is the access in is very spacious and it has a two lane exit point for left or right turn functionality. The feedback from students on the additional needed parking has been extremely positive.

One of the real construction challenges in building this Parking Center was the problematic soil conditions that place extremely high lateral loads to the foundation walls. Designing and specifying regular fill material to help these lateral load conditions would take settling and compression time. This extends the project build time and increases cost.

Another challenge to the project was the confined area that was sloping toward the project. Moving heavy equipment and material into the site took careful planning. Weather and construction conditions were managed by a great team of construction professionals from Catalyst Construction.

Plymouth Foam’s DuraFill Geofoam was able to meet the challenge of this project by reducing the construction time line by providing a “ready to build site.” Reducing the build time reduces labor costs and carrying loan cost for the college. Staying on time and on budget for a large construction isparamount in the construction world and DuraFill delivered.

Other fill materials are seldom controlled and can produce varying effects and outcomes. Plymouth Foam’s DuraFill Geofoam is controlled during the manufacturing process and is designed and engineered to accomplish those specific construction outcomes. DuraFill meets the challenge of being an ultra-lightweight material that can reduce load settlement and improve stability against bearing and slope failures.

How Did I Save $1000s on My Construction Project

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

Steady Wins the Performance Race

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. (

Battle of the Polystyrenes

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.

Do Roof Warranties Insulate You?

Building owners are constantly making decisions and risk assessment in regard to their facility. Roofing plays a huge role as it can impact so many factors.

When installing a new roof, (new construction or replacement) an owner is faced with the role of Risk Management. Many building owners
believe the serviceable life of a roof is directly related to the warranty. Roofing Manufacturers’ have seized upon these beliefs by selling “NDL (No Dollar Limit) Warranties” giving customers the euphoria of total protection. Are NDL Warranties worth it?

NDL warranties have a relatively high cost, at several levels. There is a cost per foot for the warranty and to qualify for the NDL, the “system” has to contain “everything” from the roofing manufacturer (screw, plates, insulation, etc.). Most roofing manufacturers do not make all the components in a roof system but rather put their name on them and mark them up.

NDL Roof Warratnies

This is where NDL warranties go sideways - “all the other components.”
According to Roof Warranty Research, roofs typically don’t fail because of washers or insulation. So if insulation and other components, rarely if ever, cause roof failures, why bundle them into a warranty? Does the NDL warranty guarantee the R-value of the insulation when it declines or gets wet? Would you be surprised if I told you they do not?

Maybe bundling all these other components in a NDL warranty offers better cost? When the Roofing Manufacturers bundles the other components, it ultimately places a
double margin on “all the other components” - 1st mark up from original manufacturer and the 2nd mark up from NDL Warranty Roofing Manufacturer. Does this double margin reduce cost or add extra profit for the roofing manufacturer?

Interest fact, the roof installers lose their competitive ability to “shop” all the other roof components, driving the prices higher. So, NDL Warranties really take Value Engineering away from the roofer and the building owner! In reality, it really hampers the free market system in some ways.

So are NDL worth it? It has long been said, that roof warranties are written to protect the manufacturer not the owner and that the best warranty is the one that you never have to use. What is a building owner to do? I suggest saving money and take the advice of the roofing experts, make sure the roof is installed properly, do proper maintenance and faithfully monitor the roof through inspections - this is how you get longer serviceable life, not through a NDL warranty.

Value Engineering - A Win-Win Strategy

Recently, much has been written on the new r-values of polyisocyanurate insulation spurred on by the NRCA Tech Talk. What hasn't been talked about is what does it mean for the consumer? or What opportunities are available for advanced roofing contractor that are willing to educate clients? or How can a Win -Win scenario be used to Win More Jobs?

Experience in the industry has shown that it takes designers and architects several years to catch up and change their project specifications based on new information. This opportunity window allows for roofing contractors to provide a wonderful service and offer "Value Engineering." (Get a copy of - "
Value Engineering Tips and Tricks for Roofing")

The recent research has shown that polyisocyanurate (ISO) insulation provides an R-value of 5 R/inch at 40ºF and 4 R/inch at 25ºF. Contrast that to Type VIII Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) that has an r-value of 4.2 R/inch at 40ºF and 4.4 R/inch at 25ºF. Now, take into account that the cost difference between ISO and EPS insulation. ISO Insulation can cost up to 60% more. This really spotlights EPS as the best r-value/inch value. Substituting EPS insulation in for ISO in a value engineering premise is quite simple as the numbers speak volumes. The real trick is how it can be accomplished in an environment that is so "Pro" ISO?

Ultimately, the building owner can win by saving money and yet the contractor can win by proving his professionalism and closing more work - a real Win-Win.

LTTR - What does long-term R-value mean

What is your definition of long-term - 5, 10, 25 years? How should we judge the R-value of insulation long-term? LTTR (Long-Term Thermal Resistance) is a measure to quantify a comparative method of R-value in an attempt at trying to help architects, specifiers, builders, inspectors and owners. This measurement is achieved by the test methods ASTM C1303 or CAN/ULC-S770. I applaud the effort of developing these testing to quantify thermal performance, however a major adjustment may need to take place or at least the building industry need to understand these measurements - what they are and what they are not.

Early this year, the National Roofers Contractors Association, made a recommendation to it's members that Polyisocyanurate Insulation revise "its design in-service R-value recommendation to 5.0 per inch thickness." This declaration was the second time Polyisocyanurate's R-value was downgraded in the last 2 years. For some of us "Energy Aficionados," who understand the principles of insulation off-gassing, determined it was time to re-examine LTTR testing (
View Technical LTTR Bulletin).

LTTR really looks at Long-Term Thermal Performance of insulation as 5 years. Do we expect a building to last only five years? How is 5 years a true quantitative analysis of R-value performance?

We do not replace insulation in a building every 5 years, why would we think that is long-term? Most building in the U.S. are built to last 50 years, some 100 years. Long-term R-value should be figured at 50 years… right? We know off-gassing continues to happen after 5 years. Let's re-evaluate what we are doing as an industry and modify Long-Term Thermal Resistance to at least 50 years.

Insulating Stud Cavities

Insulating stud cavities or any cavities needing insulation can be difficult to fill. Fiberglass, blown-in and spray foam seems to be high on everyone's list but really fall shorts in many ways. Rigid insulation like Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) by itself or in combination with other insulation may be the ticket, depending on the application. Remodelers will be the first to tell you that when they open up walls they see - fiberglass that is moldy and open, blown-in insulation that is settled down 2' from the top and spray foam that is cracked with bugs crawling through it. Polystyrene Insulating Panels (PIP) Packs may be a good solution in combination with other insulations. PIP Packs are EPS panels that are pre-cut to fit snuggly into opening like stud or furring cavities. PIP Packs can come with "ON Guard" insect protection that can help keep pest and bugs from entering a cavity. Learn More

PIP Pack Wall

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
  • Inert
  • Our EPS is Made in USA

Learn More About Advantage to EPS

Gold-Wall Worth its Weight in Gold

The "Code Friendly" term for today's designers is continuous insulation. For good reason, continuous insulation provides a solid plane of insulation and a consistent r-value which help with all the new energy codes. One of the best products on the market today to provide continuous insulation is Plymouth Foam's Gold-Wall. Gold-Wall starts with the benefits of EPS rigid foam insulation and combines it with embedded 25 gauge steel studs which providing a superior insulation system.

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.

"Or Equal" - How about Better than Equal

Many construction architectural specs are written with a phrase that reads , “or equal.” This typically means that product must be at least equal to what is being called out. Many architect specify XPS (Extruded Polystyrene) for below grade insulation requiring an R-Value of 5 R/inch with a PSI of 15 or 25. Most times that foam board is specified as 2” thick to accomplish R 10. The real question may be, are their foam insulation boards that are “equal” to XPS below grade?

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.

Neopor Specs
*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 Shrinking R-value of Polyisocyanurate Insulation

What happen to the old days when were told that ISO (Polyisocyanurate) Insulation had an R-Value of 7, 8.3 or 9 per inch. Those days are over! In fact, this last month the “NRCA (National Roofers Contractors Association) has revised its design in-service R-Value recommendation to 5.0 per inch.” (Article)

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.

Polyiso insulation RValue decreases in colder temperatures

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.