The advantages of foam board insulation

Updated July 20, 2017

Foam board insulation, a rigid board or sheet of insulation, is one alternative to standard fibreglass for insulating homes. It is typically used to insulate floors, walls, ceilings, roofs and foundations. There are different types of foam board insulation available that offer advantages to homeowners that other forms of insulation may not.

Different Types

Foam board insulation is available in different materials. Expanded polystyrene is produced in large sheets, commonly called bead-board. It is offered in varying densities, as what is required for a roof needs to be more dense than insulation for a wall. This type of foam board insulation is less expensive than other types and comes in a variety of finishes. Extruded polystyrene often has chemicals added and tends to be more expensive as a result. It offers better resistance to absorption of water, has a consistent density, is good for structural use and is also available in a variety of finishes. Polyisocyanurate and polyurethane forms are often thinner panels, but they can offer better insulation than other materials. There is often a foil face on both sides to act as a radiant barrier. These kinds are used when space is a consideration, and they tend to be less expensive.


Although foam board insulation is lightweight, it is very durable and can last for a long time if it is cared for properly. Foam board insulation can add structural solidity to a house, creating a hard shell that adds a layer of support for the walls and roof. In harmful weather, a house can be less susceptible to damage. Foam board insulation does not deteriorate with moisture and holds its shape, providing a moisture barrier that may work to prevent mildew and mould in walls. Once this type of insulation is installed, it does not shift out of place.

Energy Savings

Foam board insulation can be cut to a desired size easily, even in an irregular shape, using a utility knife. It is heated to mould to walls, so it fits exactly, cutting down on heating and cooling costs in a house. This type of insulation is resistant to insects and rodents, so there won't be any channels produced that can cause drafts. You can use foam board to insulate roofs, walls, foundations, garage doors and pipes. It can even be used on the exterior of a building to provide extra insulation, further reducing any energy costs.


If you're considering using foam board insulation and installing it yourself, you'll need to keep a few things in mind. Foam board insulation should not be exposed to sunlight, as it can degrade. The insulation can also absorb water vapour, so it is important to keep it covered. While foam board insulation generally resists insects, some can tunnel through and get to your home; to prevent this, some manufacturers will treat the insulation with insecticide. While foam board insulation is difficult to ignite, once it is ignited, it will burn quickly, so you should install a fire barrier.

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About the Author

Based in New Hamburg, Ontario, Mary Margaret Peralta has been writing for websites since 2010. She has developed a company website and a health and safety manual for a past employer. Peralta obtained her Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University of Waterloo in Waterloo, Ontario.