Options And Pros And Cons For Rigid Foam Insulation

Polystyrene foam board insulation is a rigid foam insulation type developed in the 1970s. Foam boards are produced from polyurethane, which is an oil-based product. When it is heated up, this material expands and becomes rigid. It can be used to insulate any building because it has a high R-value per inch, meaning it provides excellent thermal protection for your home or office space. This blog post will discuss what the options are for different types of rigid foam installation and what are the pros and cons associated with those different types.

Rigid foam is effective at stopping air infiltration because there are many layers that overlap each other (instead of just one like in traditional fiberglass). It also slows down water vapor from entering your home which means fewer mold problems! The R-value per inch makes rigid foam among the most efficient insulating materials on the market, making it an environmentally-friendly choice.

One significant advantage that rigid insulation offers is that it can be custom-fitted to any size or shape because of its rigid nature. It is also said to offer a balance between thermal performance and fire safety, as well.

Polyisocyanurate (PIR)

Polyisocyanurate insulation is a rigid foam insulation material composed of two layers of chemically bonded polyisocyanurate. One layer has an aluminium foil surface on one side that protects the product from moisture and resists fire spread.

In addition to this, polyisocyanurate is highly effective at reducing the passage of air through it, so much so that it’s often found as jacketing for other types of insulations and air sealing products. In other words, it’s great if you want to keep things cool both at room temperature and in very cold climates where some or all water pipes freeze over if insulated with anything else.

It has a low sublimation rate which also makes it useful for retrofitting existing homes to improve energy efficiency.

Pros Of PIR:

  • Provides excellent thermal protection for your home or office space.
  • Rigid foam insulation is made from polyurethane, which has a high R-value per inch and can be used to insulate any building because it’s not affected by moisture like fiberglass insulation is. It also doesn’t produce toxic fumes when in contact with fire like other types of construction materials do (like wood).
  • It will even out the temperature within your home so you don’t have to worry about hot spots and cold drafts!

Cons Of PIR:

  • PIR often feels dryer than many people would prefer; this usually changes after a period of time as the material becomes moisturized through use. Some people may find the material too stiff, and it can be difficult to work with in tight spaces.
  • It’s more expensive than some other types of insulation such as fiberglass or cellulose; you’ll need a professional contractor to install this for you.

Extruded Polystyrene (XPS)

XPS insulation is a form of polystyrene foam insulation that typically comes in panels. This type of insulation is resistant to movement in the building’s structure and will remain stable for the building.

Rigid XPS panels are inserted into wall cavities and then sealed against the inside and outside surfaces with flame-resistant foil tape or spray foam. They can be used as external wall cladding applied directly on supported sheathing, as insulated cavity fill, or between studs where decoupling is needed to avoid thermal bridging through the studs. Panels come with factory-finished skins (either 1/8″ clear facestock or 1/2″ embossed facestock) to provide pre-finished interior surfaces.

This type of foam insulation is often used on exterior walls or the underside of a concrete slab floor on top of uncased studs in order to provide some degree of air sealing and/or thermal resistance, as well as providing soundproofing for adjacent living spaces. Rigid foam panels are also commonly installed between joists

Extruded Polystyrene is a cost-effective polystyrene foam board insulation that’s easy to install. It’s similar in characteristics to PIR and has some of the same pros and cons.

Extruded polystyrenes are often used for commercial purposes because they’re less expensive than other types of rigid foam boards like Icynene Pro Rigid Foam Insulation Boards.

Pros Of XPS:

  • It requires no special tools or skills for installation, and it can be used to do keyhole and cut-in applications.
  • It is highly liquid resistant (if sealed properly).
  • Unlike the other two types of rigid foam insulation, extruded polystyrenes don’t use any kind of adhesive or sealant which is why they’re so easy to install; this also means you might not need a professional installer for installation (though it’s recommended).
  • These boards are also great because they provide an air barrier as well as thermal protection.
  • If you want your home to have more soundproofing, then this type of board may be perfect for you since these boards typically offer better noise reduction than PIR insulation – but at twice the cost per square foot!
  • Because there are no adhesives involved in installing this material, if something goes wrong, you can just pull it out and put in a new one.

Cons Of XPS:

  • The material can be difficult to cut.
  • It also may not insulate as well when installed on an uninsulated surface such as wood or concrete, so you’ll want to make sure your home is fully insulated before adding this type of foam insulation.
  • One downside is that polysynthetic insulation boards are not insulated on both sides which means your home will still lose heat through these panels; this type of board may be best used when finishing an attic or basement since there’s no need to worry about condensation problems like with open cell foam boards.
  • They may contain formaldehyde.
  • Not very good at resisting moisture and water vapor.

Expanded Polystyrene (EPS)

Eps is a tough and rigid foam insulation material. It looks like styrofoam packaging that you would use to cover or line food or drinks. So imagine if every time you ordered a pizza you got some of the slices already wrapped up in these very useful squares. It’s white, not pink like the other types of common styrofoam materials because it has no bubble content inside – just air and gas bubbles along the outside edge which makes it both strong and insulating.

Eps is made by blowing air into liquid polystyrene until it becomes solid foam plastic which can be shaped any way they want to for either blown-in installation into walls or external applications using roofing

Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) is a type of rigid foam insulation that comes in a range of densities. It’s typically used for roof and wall cavities, as well as exterior walls. The most common R-values are between R-13 to about R-20 per inch depending on the density chosen by the homeowner or contractor. An average house with EPS insulation will have an overall cost of around $4000-$6000 installed and can be quite labor-intensive to install since it doesn’t insulate on both sides which means there must be continuous access to all surfaces being insulated throughout the job.

Pros Of EPS

  • EPS is made from a renewable resource, expanded polystyrene beads. When the product is manufactured it’s done so in an environmentally friendly process which creates far less CO2 emissions than other types of insulation products or even traditional building materials like wood and brick.
  • EPS also has no negative impact on indoor air quality because it doesn’t contain toxins like formaldehyde (found in some fiberglass) that can off-gas into your home environment over time.
  • No chemicals/toxins to worry about outside of the house,
  • Does not produce fumes inside the house due to lack of chemical bonding agent
  • R-values between 13 and 20 per inch depending on density chosen by homeowner/contractor

Cons Of EPS

One downside is that polysynthetic insulation boards are not insulated on both sides which means your home will still lose heat through these boards.

Over time, the R-value of EPS goes down.

Another downside is that the boards can be costly too, costing around $600 a sheet and they are not easy to install either – you have to cut through them with special tools like saws or dremels which adds time and labor costs for installation.


Styrofoam usually comes in a white board form and is easy to cut into pieces or use as insulation boards. It also has the ability to insulate on two sides of your home, which means it can eliminate heat loss through the walls more effectively than EPS panels.

Pros Of Styrofoam

  • Styrofoam is not harmful either – polysynthetic insulation boards are made from hazardous materials that emit toxic fumes when heated like formaldehyde and boric acid, but styrene foam does not have this problem due to being inert and non-toxic. This makes it safer for those people who suffer from allergies or asthma because there would be no risk of exposure while installing them around these areas.
  • While other options provide similar insulation qualities, they differ dramatically in cost. Rigid foam insulation has a higher initial investment but can last 30 years or more with proper installation and maintenance. The EPS panels are cheaper in the beginning but need to be replaced every few decades because of their low R-value over time.
  • The rigid foam option is also better for homes that have extra heat sources like appliances, fireplaces, and sunlight due to its greater resistance against these elements than EPS boards. This makes it an excellent choice if you live in warmer climates where insulation needs to withstand high temperatures, as well as humidity year-round without any risk of deterioration from mold spores or other fungi growths on the surface like some types of fiberglass materials, would experience under similar conditions.
  • Another advantage this material offers is the ease of installation, which is a huge plus for DIY-ers. Rigid foam boards are lightweight and easy to cut with simple tools that can be purchased at the hardware store or home improvement center; they also offer good air sealing properties once installed.
  • Another pro of this type of board insulation is its low cost when compared to other options like fiberglass batts or blown cellulose insulation due largely in part because it’s made from cheaper raw materials than those two examples (i.e., polystyrene beads). It also has an R-value of about three per inch as opposed to one per inch for EPS boards and up to five for some types of fiberglass batt insulation material, making it more effective over time despite having lower R-values per square inch.

Cons Of Styrofoam

On the downside, rigid foam can be difficult to install if you’re working with a complicated roof line or rafter configuration–particularly if they aren’t straight–as it requires cutting pieces to fit and means there are spaces between them.

In addition, it’s not as energy efficient as other options like blown cellulose or fiberglass insulation because of the higher R-value per square inch than those options offer.

Alternatives to Foam Insulation: Rock / Mineral Wool Rigid Panels

There are some rigid panel alternatives to rigid foam insulation. Rock wool rigid panels are a good alternative and offer many of the same benefits, but some drawbacks. They’re typically installed on flat surfaces like concrete floors or basement walls.

Rock wool panels can be difficult to install in corners because they don’t bend as easily and are more expensive than foam insulation options–though you’ll often find them included with other costs when remodeling your home.

There is also mineral wool insulation which offers both an R-value per inch comparable to that of styrofoam treatments plus it’s flexible so installation isn’t as much of a problem if there are complicated angles or curves involved. However, installing this type of material requires adhering it to framing members and sealing all gaps where any two panels meet.

Conclusion: Which Rigid Insulation Is Best?

Which insulation is best for your home? It will depend on the type of application and budget. We recommend seeking out a contractor to help you make the right decision when it comes to choosing what rigid foam insulation product would work best in your particular situation.

There are a lot of different insulation panel products out there, and each one has its advantages and disadvantages.

One of the most popular is extruded polystyrene (XPS), which is a good option for homeowners on a budget because it’s affordable and generally fire retardant, but it can only be used within certain limits before settling begins to occur around the foam cells.

When deciding which type of insulation best suits your needs, keep three main factors in mind: budget considerations, finishing effects desired (e.g., plaster), and requirements for fire safety (e.g., smoke resistance).

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