What Are the Common Foam Insulation Board Types?

Update:15 Nov 2019

Foam board insulation involves utilization of rigid for […]

Foam board insulation involves utilization of rigid forms of different foam insulator in the market. These are usually panel type and involve chemicals in production. Three common types of foam board insulation are the Polyisocyanurate and Polyurethane, expanded polystyrene foam (EPS) and the extruded polystyrene foam (XPS).

Polyisocyanurate and polyurethane are the most expensive type in foam board insulation; however this class also is deemed most effective in terms of thermal insulation. Also called Polyiso, this had been widely used in the more recent architectural infrastructures worldwide. A relative R-value of R-7 or R-8 per inch of thickness is measured for this class. Usually comes with a single or double foil (aluminum) facing, that further increase thermal insulation especially when it comes to radiant heat. With a foil face it is easier for fitting since more decent quality tapes adhere to the foil. Polyiso also exhibits to work under wide range of temperature, from -1800C to +2500C. Being both closed-cell foams, both contain low conductivity gases which in some cases involves CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) and HCFC (hydro chlorofluorocarbons). During the thermal drift, the reduction of R-value is observed and these ozone-layer damaging gasses enter the atmosphere. Thus poses a great drawback on using this class of foam board insulation.

Expanded polystyrene is the least used foam board insulation in the market today as well as the cheapest. This class has an R-value of R-3.6 to R-4 per inch of thickness. This is also known as to be mostly utilized on structural insulated panels (SIP) and integrated concrete forms (ICF). As such comes in various facing, like vinyl sheet and aluminum foil. These facings act as an air and water vapor retardant, protecting the foam inside. It is commonly used in buildings' roof and wall insulations. This does not use CFCs, HCFCs and formaldehydes for foaming agents thus deemed eco-friendly. Being an inert, highly stable and non-nutritive material, decomposition by natural means seems impossible. It is also 100% recyclable.

Extruded polystyrene foams R-value range from R-4.5 to R-5.0 per inch of thickness. Out of these three cited types this one lies on the middle both in terms of cost and efficiency. Also known as pink board or blue board and comes with varying edges profiles and thickness. However, this is more likely to show consistency in density. This is an excellent in restricting entry of water vapor or moisture inside the foams structure. This is the type usually used in basement walls and under slabs. Of the types of insulation this is the most used in home construction, basically because price practicality.

While these three common types may differ in terms of prices and efficiency along with their respective specialties, all of these strive to provide insulation and improve the level of comfort in every household. All also provide some structural support based on the density applied. Whatever type of foam board insulation is needed depends on what function it must serve, while one type may be best for many but worst for others.