Rigid Insulation Boards: Understanding the 3 Types and Proper Installation

Rigid foam insulation boards are a great way to insulate your home, reducing heating and cooling costs. There is quite an array of options on the market – polyisocyanurate, extruded polystyrene, or expanded polystyrene boards. All three types each have their advantages and disadvantages. Rigid foam insulation also has to be adequately sealed at all points where it meets other materials such as roof material or air conditioning ducts for its benefits to take place. This article will explore rigid board installation and show you how it can help you save money on your energy bill!

Types Of Rigid Boards

Rigid foam insulation boards are typically found in the following lengths: 12, 18, 24-inch widths for rigid board extruded sheets or batts, 48 inches as standard height with other heights available.

There are three (3) types of rigid foam insulation boards: 

Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Boards:

Expanded polystyrene is a closed-cell and provides good thermal resistance. It also has excellent sound-dampening properties.

Pros:

Good thermal resistance. 

Excellent sound dampening properties. 

While rigid foam boards are more expensive, it does provide better insulation value for the installation costs which can be recouped through energy savings in as little as one year of use.

Cons:

– Expanded polystyrene (EPS) board provides excellent sound dampening properties, but they require more time for installation than their competitors due to the need for sealing.

– Polystyrene foam boards do not provide as much insulation per square inch and are more expensive than other types of rigid foam boards. 

– Polystyrene foam boards are less dense than polyisocyanurate and extruded polystyrene but are still an affordable choice for insulation purposes. 

Extruded Polystyrene Boards:

Extruded polystyrene provides good thermal resistance but does not provide sound dampening properties.

Pros:

– It is an affordable option for those who need additional insulation without paying a premium price. 

– Polystyrene foam boards can be installed quickly and are easy to cut with simple tools such as utility knives or even scissors. 

The sealant applied to the corners and edges is usually enough for this type of rigid foam.

Cons:

– Polystyrene foam boards do not provide as much insulation per square inch and are more expensive than other types of rigid foam boards.

– The sound dampening properties can be improved using a spray adhesive or sealant to ensure that all edges and corners are sealed tightly. 

Polyisocyanurate (Polyiso) Boards

Polyisocyanurate is a closed-cell and has the lowest R-value. This type comes in sheets or batts, meaning it can be cut to size for different projects. Polyisocyanurate boards provide excellent sound dampening qualities but are more expensive.

Pros:

Polyiso boards are priced higher due to their quality and longevity. EPS is the cheapest option and has poor thermal resistance, which means it’s not a replacement for polyisocyanurate insulation boards. The sound dampening qualities are the main reason why polyiso is superior to other rigid boards.

The soundproofing effect makes it an excellent choice for bedrooms, offices, or any area where one wants a silent space. Polyisocyanurate insulation boards are also more durable and last longer than EPS foam as well as being resistant to moisture damage which is a common concern when installing rigid insulation boards.

Cons:

The major downside to polyiso is that it’s not as dense or insulating compared to EPS, which means one needs more material and time (and money) for the project. Polyisocyanurate board installation can also be complicated due to its weight and rigidity with different sizes for the board.

A good quality polyiso is expensive because it has a low density and requires more material for the project. 

Polyisocyanurate boards are also rigid, so they need to be cut down into smaller pieces, proving difficult if you don’t have the right tools or knowledge of how to do this correctly. Polyisocyanurate boards are also more challenging to install because they can’t be nailed down or screwed into the studs.

General Information

Insulation installation isn’t an easy task, and it requires a lot of time and energy on behalf of the installer. Foam insulation board cannot be installed with nails or screws like other types of rigid foam insulation material;

It is challenging to cut rigid foam boards. It can be done with a hot knife, and it is essential that the edges are sealed, or else air pockets will form in your insulation installation. 

Rigid foam board installation requirements include caulking or welding at all corners, which can be time-consuming and challenging to complete without gaps in the sealant.

Best Insulation Uses For Rigid Boards

The best uses for rigid foam boards include: 

– Polyisocyanurate rigid boards are best for high R values, but they have the lowest insulating value per inch of thickness. These foam boards should be used in areas that need to retain heat, for example, a home with low ceilings or rooms that can become uncomfortably hot due to exterior exposure.

– Extruded polystyrene rigid boards are best for low R values, but they have the highest insulating value per inch of thickness. These foam boards should be used in areas that need to retain cold, for example, a home with high ceilings or rooms that can become uncomfortably cool due to exterior exposure. 

– Expanded polystyrene rigid boards are best for medium R values, but they have the same insulating value per inch of thickness. These foam boards should be used in areas that need to retain insulation from environmental changes, such as a home with average ceilings or rooms that cannot become uncomfortably cold due to exterior exposure and can also withstand higher temperatures. 

At A1 Home Insulation, we have all three types of rigid boards and can install them in their most appropriate places and conditions to help you reach your home insulation and energy cost-saving goals.

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