Rigid plastic foam insulations for commercial, residential and industrial insulation can be divided into four different categories : Extruded Polystyrene (XEPS), Polyurethane (PUR), Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) and Polyisocyanurate (PIR). Every type of foam insulation has different characteristics and offers specific benefits and limitations for particular building applications.
However, Polystyrene offers some stable properties when it is combined with a distinct foam extrusion process. Thus, it is able to produce an exceptional product which is very useful. XEPS offers products that fulfill almost every kind of engineering and construction application.
Extruded Polystyrene (XEPS) has always been popular for superior resistance and long-term reliability to numerous fundamental forces of nature, including water, heat, time, pressure and cold. While choosing insulation types, you need to consider all these forces.
A Brief Overview of the Extrusion Process
Extruded Polystyrene foam generally begins with just solid polystyrene crystals. These crystals are mixed with a blowing agent and special additives before being fed into an extruder. Once the mixture is fed into the extruder, it is combined and melted into a viscous plastic fluid. All this happens under controlled conditions of high pressure and temperature.
The molten thick, hot liquid is forced in a continuous process with help from a die. As the hot liquid emerges from the die and expands to a foam, it is cooled, trimmed and shaped to dimension. This is a continuous extrusion process which results in a unique foam product with a perfectly uniform closed-cell structure. It also offers consistent product qualities, smooth continuous skin and other qualities which may not be matched by other insulation types.
In simple words, all the qualities and benefits offered by extruded polystyrene are almost impossible to duplicate in any other type of insulation. The qualities possessed by XEPS make it very well-suited for formation into stackable blocks and panels to serve the basic purpose of wall insulation into homes.
XEPS foam can be easily cut for electrical wiring. It can easily run through or near it. These interlocking XEPS interlocking foam formations are usually manufactured with hollow regions. These regions can be filled with concrete to create a grid of beams and columns when dry.
Other Beneficial Properties of Extruded Polystyrene
Here are some benefits of XEPS :
Chemical Resistance – XEPS is considered and recognized as the most stable polystyrene foam insulation. It is tested and verified to be resistant to various common chemicals like bases, acids, water, alcohol, water-based paints, alcohol-based paints, salt water or brine, mortars, cement, asphalt and so on.
However, it is worth mentioning that petroleum-based products can still attack this type of foam insulation. Therefore, you should avoid foam contact with high concentrations of solvents like chlorinated hydrocarbons, aromatic hydrocarbons, fuel oil, gasoline, naphthas, cut-back asphalts, paint thinner, oil-based insecticides, oil-based paint, polyester resins, wood preservatives and so on.
Soil Compatibility – Such foam insulation is unaffected by most of the substances found in soil, including alkalis, acids, bacteria and so on. XEPS foam insulation does not rot, corrode or support growth of mildew, mold and soil microorganisms. It neither offers any food value nor supports animal or plant life. You need to take certain precautions when this type of insulation is in contact with the soil. It will help you prevent any sort of hidden entry through the foam by insect pests or vermin.
Storage & Outdoor Exposure – XEPS foam insulation is not affected by extreme weather conditions. Therefore, it can be easily stored outside. However, prolonged exposure to UV rays in strong sunlight can cause the surface to become dusty and pale. But this will not have any significant effect on insulating value unless the surface’s thickness is reduced or eroded. You can simply brush off surface dust before applying finishes or adhesives. If you plan to use this type of insulation outside for a long period, you can even use an opaque protective covering.
It is important to understand that extruded polystyrene can be quite expensive. In fact, it can easily add around 5%-10% to the cost of building a house. However, you will be able to save a lot of money on cooling and heating. This will help you recover the extra cost over the life of the structure. It is clear that XEPS foam insulation offers numerous benefits and proves to be the best type of foam insulation.