Different Types of Insulation: EPS vs. XPS vs. GPS
Winters in Canada are no joke, and to make sure that your new home is up to standard and maximizing your heat efficiency, you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the different types of insulation available. Insulation is a key component of sustainable, energy-efficient home design, and there are a number of insulation options available.
Today we’re going to walk you through three types of insulation: Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Insulation, Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) Insulation, and Graphite Polystyrene (GPS) Insulation. All three are rigid foam insulation and are primarily used for below-grade insulation and outside walls.
What is R-Value in Insulation?
We’re going to talk about energy efficiency today, and a key term in the world of insulation is the R-value of a substance. The R-value is the resistance to heat flow. When you see a higher R-value, that means that the substance has a higher insulation capability, and it will promote better energy efficiency in your home. The location of your home and the climate you live in will dictate what kind of an R-value you should be looking for.
What is Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Insulation
EPS Insulation is made up of small foam beads. In the manufacturing process, these beads are put in a mold and heated or steamed so that they expand and merge together. It is lightweight, rigid, and closed-cell and has been in circulation since the 1950s. It is a tried and tested method of insulation. EPS insulation is actually 98% air and only 2% plastic.
EPS can be customized in terms of its shape, and all you need is a different mold, though flat rectangular slats are most typically used. EPS Insulation can be considered a green alternative in that it requires a low percentage of plastic. It is also recyclable.
Is EPS Insulation Energy-Efficient?
EPS has a high resistance to heat flow, and that resistance has been shown to remain stable over time. An interesting feature of EPS Insulation is that it can offer different levels of insulation, and its R-value can range from 3.60 to 4.20 per inch of thickness.
Is EPS Insulation Affordable?
Of the three insulation types we’re going to cover today, EPS is the most affordable. It offers the highest r-value for the lowest price. The price also depends on the product specifications because EPS Insulation is customizable in shape.
What is Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) Insulation?
XPS Insulation is another closed-cell product. It is made of polystyrene crystals, additives, and a gas blowing agent. These components are mixed and blended into a liquid before being processed and expanded into foam in the manufacturing process. XPS Insulation has low thermal conductivity and is extremely resistant to moisture.
Unlike EPS Insulation, XPS Insulation typically comes in standard shapes and sizes and is most commonly used in new build construction.
Is XPS Insulation Energy-Efficient?
XPS Insulation has a higher R-value than EPS, around 4.7 per inch of thickness; however, it does see a reduction in resistance to heat flow over time. It slows the movement of moisture and vapor, but it is not an absolute impermeable barrier.
Is XPS Insulation Affordable?
XPS Insulation is more costly than EPS Insulation, but you trade price for a higher R-value.
What is Graphite Polystyrene (GPS) Insulation?
GPS Insulation is patented and made by BASF. GPS Insulation is similar to EPS Insulation in that it can be customized into any shape. The manufacturing process is also similar to EPS, with one major difference. GPS Insulation is infused with graphite, giving the product its signature dark grey color.
Is GPS Insulation Energy-Efficient?
GPS Insulation has an R-value of 4.7 to 4.9, which makes it a kind of marriage between EPS Insulation and XPS Insulation. It has the customization and lower raw material requirements of EPS with the heat flow resistance of XPS.
Is GPS Insulation Affordable?
GPS Insulation lands somewhere between EPS and XPS in terms of price.
Which One Is Right For You?
There are a number of factors you’ll want to weigh in your decision-making process around insulation, including price, energy efficiency, and where you live. If you want your home to be based around environmentally friendly energy practices and you’re eager to discuss insulation options, speak with Lucas at GenCorp Homes Inc. Contact us today to get started.