Expanded polystyrene is one of the most versatile materials available today. It can be used for a variety of construction applications due to its strength, stability and lightweight nature.
When it comes to EPS, the benefits are considerable, especially compared to other construction materials.
Let’s take a look at five of the most important benefits of EPS construction.
1. Stable R-Value
When comparing the different merits and benefits of various insulation products for construction, there is usually a focus on cost, environmental impact and versatility, but the top concern is almost always the performance factors.
EPS has a high R-value per inch and is closely comparable to other insulation materials.
EPS insulation offers excellent thermal resistance, and its consistency and stability set it apart from other insulation materials like XPS. The stability and consistency of EPS products mean they have a longer life than other insulation products and will not need replacement as often, leading to long-term savings.
Products made of XPS contain a trapped blowing agent that diminishes over time. So, while they may have a slightly higher initial R-value than EPS insulation products, their effectiveness depreciates over time.
EPS is made up of only air and polystyrene — there are no added blowing agents or chemicals. This means that its R-value does not reduce over time and will remain as effective in fifty years as it was on day one.
2. Dimensional Stability
Many plastic polymers either shrink or expand when exposed to humidity or temperature change. But EPS has incredible dimensional stability and remains unaffected by varying environmental conditions.
The maximum dimensional change of EPS is less than 2%, and the predictable material performance means it delivers consistently for the entirety of its lifetime.
3. Compressive Resistance
One of the most significant mechanical properties of EPS is its resistance to compressive stresses — and the strength and resistance capabilities increase with higher density.
EPS is a closed-cell foam, meaning there are no holes or spaces between the cells. Because of this make-up, EPS is highly resistant to bending and compression, so it works well in load-bearing situations.
EPS is an extremely strong material for construction projects that is not subject to degradation over time.
Since EPS is 98% air, it is one of the lightest construction materials available.
Traditional fill materials, like concrete, soil and sawdust, can strain the surrounding environment. But the limited additional load when using EPS fill reduces stress and can easily be used in delicate environments where other fill alternatives would be too heavy to use.
The lightweight nature of EPS reduces fuel costs and makes transportation of the material easy. It also means job site handling is quick and simple. For instance, when using EPS geofoam as fill-in roadway construction, the blocks are so lightweight and easy to manage that even with a small crew, the job will be finished faster than if using soil or rocks — saving time and labor costs.
5. Ease of Use
EPS can help maximize construction efficiency. The lightweight material is easily maneuvered by hand and can be stacked, layered or custom cut during manufacturing or on-site to fit any design specifications.
It is safe to handle without the need for special equipment or additional safety gear like protective clothing, masks or goggles. Additionally, products like EPS foam blocks can be installed in any weather conditions, helping minimize construction delays.
Now that we’ve gone over the top five benefits of EPS construction, there are a few more advantages that are worth mentioning, as well.
EPS is used in a variety of construction projects. It works as a fill material for road and bridge construction and is commonly used by the Department of Transportation. It is a great insulation material for homes and commercial structures. Also, EPS is used in several applications within the building from the roof to the walls to the foundation.
The list of applications continues on, making EPS one of the most versatile materials in any industry.
Sustainable Life Cycle
Contrary to popular belief, EPS is actually environmentally friendly.
The manufacturing of EPS is a much cleaner process than the manufacturing of other insulation alternatives. No toxic substances are used to make EPS, and no ozone-depleting gases are used or created as a byproduct when manufacturing EPS.
EPS has low global warming potential, low water consumption during manufacturing and no generated waste. EPS has a lower environmental impact than other construction materials including fiberboard, wood and paper. It neither possesses nor creates any water or air pollutants, and EPS is 100% reusable or recyclable at the end of its life.
EPS building materials can even contribute to one or more credits in several LEED® categories, and the UL Environmental Product Declaration reviews the lifecycle of the product to promote transparency.
Proven Track Record
EPS insulation is widely accepted by every evaluation agency and used in the building industry already — whether it is ICC, UL, Factory Mutual, UES or other agencies, they recognize EPS and are ready to work with it.
The overwhelming demand for cost-effective and environmentally-friendly construction solutions has even more industries selecting EPS products.
Choose EPS for Lasting Results
With the many benefits of EPS, it is obvious why it has become such a large factor in the construction industry. And due to its lasting results, its use continues to grow. The combination of stability, versatility and sustainability make EPS an easy material to incorporate into your next building or shipping project.
Atlas Molded Products specializes in developing and manufacturing innovative, high-performance molded polystyrene for a variety of applications, including architectural insulation, geofoam lightweight fill and protective and cold-chain packaging. With the nation’s largest manufacturing footprint, Atlas Molded Products can provide custom EPS solutions coast-to-coast.
For more details on how to incorporate EPS into your next construction or shipping project, contact Atlas Molded Products today.