In Cold Climates, R-5 Foam Beats R-6

Posted on April 27,2015 by user-756436 in EPS

Researchers have known for years that most types of insulation — including fiberglass batts, extruded polystyrene (XPS), and expanded polystyrene (EPS) — perform better at low temperatures than high temperatures. The phenomenon was described by Chris Schumacher, an engineer and researcher at Building Science Corporation, at a conference in 2011: “If you measure the R-value of an R-13 fiberglass batt, you’ll get different results at different outdoor temperatures. If the outdoor temperature rises, the R-value goes down.

Coping With Termites and Carpenter Ants

Posted on April 27,2015 by ScottG in ants

Ralph’s new home will be in Cleveland, Tennessee, not far from Chattanooga and solidly in termite country. And that’s the problem.

Exterior Insulation Is Like A Sweater For Your House

Posted on April 27,2015 by user-1048334 in EPS

There are many construction and insulation approaches which allow a builder to create walls and ceilings with high R-values and low levels of air leakage, creating a much better envelope than is achieved with standard framing methods. Structural insulated panels (SIPs), insulated concrete forms (ICFs), double-stud walls, and advanced framing can all produce more energy-efficient buildings than the ol' stick-built number. The one thing they can’t do is to improve the efficiency of an existing house.

Making Healthier, Greener Foam Insulation

Posted on April 27,2015 by AlexWilson in EPS

As readers of this blog know, I’ve come down fairly hard on certain types of foam insulation over the years. The downsides include the blowing agents used in extruded polystyrene (XPS) and most closed-cell spray polyurethane foam and the flame retardants that are added to all foam-plastic insulation to impart some level of fire resistance.

On the Jobsite with Foamglas

Posted on April 27,2015 by AlexWilson in below grade

In my role with Environmental Building News and our GreenSpec Product Database, I get plenty of opportunities to research and write about innovative building products. That’s one of the really fun aspects of my job.

Insulation to Keep Us Warm — Not Warm the Planet

Posted on April 27,2015 by AlexWilson in climate change

I’ve been pretty vocal about a big problem with some of our most common insulation materials: that they are made using blowing agents that are highly potent greenhouse gases. All extruded polystyrene (XPS) and most closed-cell spray polyurethane foams (SPF) are made with HFC (hydrofluorocarbon) blowing agents that have global warming potentials (GWPs) many hundreds of times greater than that of carbon dioxide. (My apologies for contaminating this column with so many acronyms!)

Insulation: good news, bad news

How to Install Rigid Foam Sheathing

Posted on April 27,2015 by user-756436 in EPS

UPDATED on March 18, 2015 What’s the best way to install foam insulation on the outside of a wall? Although GBA has published many articles and videos on the topic, we continue to receive frequent questions from readers asking how to install rigid foam sheathing on exterior walls — so it’s time to provide a primer on the topic.

Calculating the Global Warming Impact of Insulation

Posted on April 27,2015 by user-756436 in closed-cell

In June 2010, Alex Wilson published a ground-breaking article, “Avoiding the Global Warming Impact of Insulation,” in Environmental Building News. In the article, Wilson examined the implications of the fact that the HFC blowing agents used to make extruded polystyrene (XPS) and most types of closed-cell spray polyurethane foam have a much greater global warming impact than CO2.

Rural Vermont Outsulation

Posted on April 27,2015 by user-756436 in humor

My grandmother grew up in a sod house in South Dakota, and she often used to tell me about one of the chores she performed every fall: banking the home's walls with horse manure to help keep the family warm. In rural Vermont, the usual method of banking houses involves hay bales — in some cases supplemented with polyethylene or blue tarps. When I moved to Vermont in 1975, I could get mulch hay for free. Now farmers sell hay for $3 a bale — even spoiled hay that's only fit for mulch. As hay gets more expensive, rural residents are turning to more modern materials to bank their walls.

Can Foam Insulation Be Too Thick?

Posted on April 27,2015 by user-756436 in EPS

In the U.S., designers of cutting-edge superinsulated homes generally recommend 2 to 6 inches of rigid foam insulation under residential slabs. For builders who use extruded polystyrene (XPS), the most commonly used sub-slab insulation, that amounts to R-10 to R-30.

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