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Rigid Foam Board

 

Foam boards—rigid panels of insulation—can be used to insulate almost any part of your home, from the roof down to the foundation. They provide good thermal resistance and often add structural strength to your home. Foam board insulation sheathing reduces heat conduction through structural elements, like wood and steel studs.

The most common types of materials used in making foam board include polystyrene, polyisocyanurate or polyiso, and polyurethane.

 
Molded Expanded Polystyrene Foam Board

Molded expanded polystyrene (MEPS) is a closed-cell material that can be molded into many everyday items, such as coffee cups and shipping materials, or into large sheets of foam board insulation. MEPS foam board insulation is commonly known as beadboard.

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Extruded Expanded Polystyrene Foam Board

Extruded expanded polystyrene (XEPS) is a closed-cell foam insulation similar to MEPS.

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Polyisocyanurate and Polyurethane Foam Board

Polyisocyanurate ("polyiso") and polyurethane are very similar, closed-cell foam insulation materials.

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Installation

The maximum performance of foam board insulation depends heavily on proper installation. Therefore, it's best to have a certified insulation installer do it.

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Avoiding Direct Sunlight Damage

Protect all types of foam insulation from direct sunlight. Over time, the sun's ultraviolet rays can damage the insulation.

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Avoiding Potential Moisture Problems

In cold weather, warm inside air containing water vapor can get past the wall finish and insulation, condensing inside the colder wall cavity. In hot, humid climates the same thing can happen, just in the reverse direction.

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Avoiding Potential Insect Problems

When insulating a foundation you need to consider that, although insects don't eat foam board, they can easily tunnel through it. Insect burrows reduce the R-value and structural integrity of the insulation.

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Ensuring Fire Protection

Foam insulation is relatively hard to ignite, but when it is ignited, it burns readily and emits a dense smoke containing many toxic gases.

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