High Density Rigid Polystyrene Foam Insulation

Written by andy klaus
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High Density Rigid Polystyrene Foam Insulation
Low-density foam may be great for baffling noise but is not as good as high-density foam for insulation. (pink foam image by laurent dambies from Fotolia.com)

Insulating the walls against weather has been done since the first man put tar in the cracks of his hut. Technology has turned that humble tar into high-density rigid polystyrene foam, one of the best insulators on the planet.

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The Good

High-density rigid polystyrene foam makes a fantastic insulator for the home and is a great starting point for many craft projects. It is lightweight, easy to cut or shape and provides almost total resistance to moisture, mildew and other fungi. It is virtually impervious to rot, meaning that it will last a long time.

The Bad

Any polystyrene product has a number of problems when it burns. It produces a number of heavy metals, such as titanium, zinc, barium and phosphorus, in its ash, and the vapours from burning styrenes are carcinogenic. This means that they can make a house fire all the more dangerous, making the foam a terrible choice for use near open flame or intense heat.

The Ugly

Polystyrene products are notoriously difficult to dispose of and are being found in ever-increasing number in the oceans. The threat of this pollution endangers wildlife and man alike. The EPA is considering stricter controls over styrene products and likely a phaseout of the material altogether.

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