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South Carolina homeowner creates hurricane-resistant home with Advantage ICF System®

July 18, 2016

Advantage ICFAdvantage ICF System®  – Seabrook Island, South Carolina, USA

South Carolina ICFArchitect Bruce Eason of New South Design specializes in classic, old world, custom home design. Many of his designs are also sold as house plans through his company New South Classics. Eason was contacted by a homeowner interested in constructing his popular Seabrook home plan on the southeast coast of Seabrook Island, outside of Charleston, South Carolina.

“We took our Seabrook design, with traditional stick framing, and modified it to withstand the forces of nature as this house was to be built right on the water,” said Eason. “The owner wanted to be sure that they had enough structure to handle the wind and water loads that typical hurricanes with wind and tidal surges could produce, and meet applicable building codes.”

icf blog 02Working with a structural engineer, Eason specified the Advantage ICF System® for the above grade walls. The Advantage ICF System delivers two continuous layers of expanded polystyrene insulation for exceptional energy efficiency, along with the strength and durability of reinforced concrete. Light gauge steel framing was used for the roof and interior walls.

“The Charleston summers are hot and humid,” said Eason. “ICF construction added greatly to the thermal protection for increased efficiency and comfort. The strength of the ICFs combined with the all steel framing is very important in hurricane prone areas. In this area you’ve got wind, water, heat and humidity—ICFs help mitigate all of that.”

Despite the home’s robust structure that is designed to withstand 140 mph winds, it retains the character of an authentic turn-ofthe- century Charleston-style home.

“You can use a new technology like ICFs and finish with a home that looks appropriate in the Charleston Lowcountry,” said Eason. “What’s behind the walls is very different than what you expect. It is very high-tech, energy-efficient, and it enhances the safety and durability of the house.”

icf blog 03“The home provides us with a great example of disaster-resistant and energy-efficient construction using the Advantage ICF System,” said Advantage ICF System Product Manager Greg Doren.

For more information on the strength of ICFs and how to integrate them into your project, visit

Metamorphosis of a Mancave using Insulspan SIPS®

July 5, 2016

Project RenderingSet on 51 acres of pristine land minutes from downtown Ann Arbor, this barn-like 1981 home had few redeeming qualities. The house was a drafty box with lots of brown siding and shingles, little insulation, andmancave in process sub-standard construction – perfect for a man cave but far from perfect for a growing family.

The owners came to Meadowlark for a sleeker, more modern home design. They also wanted to take full advantage of the property’s southern vistas and let the outdoors in. Comfort, resource-efficiency, excellent air quality and durability were also high on their list of must haves.
Meadowlark designed a new contemporary home using Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) by Insulspan for both wall and roof structures. This building method results in a structure that outperforms conventional stick framed construction both in axial load strength and exceptional insulating properties.

panels in processTo highlight this building technology and the home that has been completely revamped to a whole new style, we invite you to come to the Behind The Drywall® tour to learn more about Insulspan SIPs and other cutting-edge building methods used in this spectacular new home.

This guided tour is free. However, space is limited, so registration is required. For more information and registration, please go to:

About Insulspan
For more than 28 years, Insulspan has led the industry in the development and manufacture of structural insulated panels. In 2007, Insulspan SIPs were named the number one green building product by the editors of Sustainable Industries magazine. In the words of the judges, “Not all SIPs are created equal, and Insulspan is the best.” Still, we’re not resting on our laurels. Insulspan continues to pursue innovation in structural insulated panel fabrication and performance. Learn more at

About Meadowlark Builders
Meadowlark Builders is an award-winning residential design-build construction company. For custom homes, green building or home remodeling, our design and construction teams deliver innovative architectural design, advanced building science techniques and superior craftsmanship. We are based in Ann Arbor and work in communities throughout Southeastern Michigan. From green custom homes to additions, kitchen remodels and whole-home remodels, Meadowlark Builders creates beautiful living spaces that are healthy, comfortable and energy-efficient. Learn more at

EnerSpan M-24: Boosting your R-value with premium NEOPOR insulation

June 14, 2016


EnerSpan M-24: Boosting your R-value with premium insulation

With a lot of EPS products available on the marketing today, Plasti-Fab decided to develop a product that uses graphite in the EPS bead to enhance the performance of the EPS, and pass the benefit on to you. You may be wondering how adding something we usually find in a #2 pencil can give you better insulation. Developed by the chemical company BASF, the graphite expanded polystyrene, known as GPS,  is comprised of many small pockets of air within it’s make-up, containing graphite. The graphite reflects radiant heat energy like a mirror, increasing the material’s resistance to the flow of heat, or R-value. Most polymer-based foams exhibit a greater ability to slow the movement of heat as the temperature decreases. Neopor GPS is in a unique class because it increases in R-value as the temperature outside drops.

EnerSpan™ M-24 insulation by Plasti-Fab is manufactured using Neopor® provided by BASF, a graphite-enhanced (silver-gray in color) raw material,  that reduces radiation heat transfer resulting in higher thermal resistance (R-value) compared to standard CAN/ULC-S701, Type 2 EPS insulation therefore making it a premium product.

The EnerSpan GPS is unique in that is classified as a SMART EPS. This is not just because it is a smart decision when insulating your home, office or commercial building. Read on to see the defined benefits of the Neopor insulation known as EnerSpan.

Stability and Durability
Neopor GPS is adaptable in size, thickness, shape and density, providing maximum flexibility and durability. And, Neopor GPS is stable as it consistently delivers the highest true R-value performance over time.

Neopor GPS is a breathable and semi-permeable high performance insulation that helps reduce the risk of mold, rot and structural damage associated with moisture condensation and long-term water retention.

Adaptable to all climate zones
Neopor GPS powers up when it gets cold outside. Insulating external walls with Neopor GPS increases the temperature of their inside surfaces which helps create a better indoor climate. And, Neopor GPS boards are thinner than others so the same effect is achieved with less material.

Neopor GPS uses up to 30% less material than other rigid foam insulation to achieve the same R-value, saving on building materials and installation labor.

Third-party validated and certified
Neopor GPS earned GREENGUARD Gold Certification and has been referenced by both The Collaborative for High Performance Schools (CHPS) and the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) Building Rating System

Why use EnerSpan M-24 Insulation: 

EnerSpan M-24 insulation board has an advantage of having all four of its edges shiplapped to ensure continuous insulation coverage. The closed cell structure of EnerSpan M-24 insulation contains only air so the R-value will not deteriorate over time. In addition, the closed cell structure of EnerSpan M-24 insulation resists water absorption so the higher R-value is retained even after direct exposure to water. The enhanced R-value is built to last and won’t deteriorate over time. The use of a graphite-enhanced raw material in the manufacture of EnerSpan M-24 insulation results in a constant R-value of R-4.53 per inch, a distinct premium over standard EPS. For a look at Plasti-Fab’s 100% Lifetime limited thermal warranty, click here.  Other advantages include its versatility and adaptability for different applications as well as its cost-effectiveness to R-value.

EnerSpan M-24 insulation can be used for these following applications:  Exterior Insulating Sheathing, Under Slab Insulation, Foundation Insulation and for Interior Basement Walls in your home. The product has a 100% R-value Warranty and installation methods are applicable as per local building codes..

For more information on Plasti-Fab’s EnerSpan M-24 insulation, click here. | |

What to use for damp-proofing on my Advantage ICF foundation

June 8, 2016

A frequently asked question I get is, “what-to use for damp-proofing on my Advantage ICF foundation walls?”

Many types of damp-proofing products are suitable for use with the Advantage ICF system. From traditional spray on ones (water based) to the various types of wraps. We recommend the dimpled type of membranes as they provide damp-proofing, drainage and protection from back-fill. Below I will take you through the pros and cons for the 4 most common types.

Standard Spray On
Mineral colloid emulsifiers can be applied to the exterior face of the Advantage ICF system. Follow manufacturer instructions for application; however, it should be noted that liquid coatings will not bridge gaps between insulation panels, so vertical EPS (expanded polystyrene)  joints that are not butted tightly together must be filled before application. The specific product used must be recommended as compatible for use with EPS insulation.

Note: Do not apply highly solvent extended asphalt emulsions as they are not compatible with EPS insulation.

The Roll-on types of waterproofing are a rubberized liquid coating that is either rolled or sprayed on depending on the manufacturer. It usually comes in a bucket.  The pro to the roll-on membrane is that because it is liquid it easily rolls on and fills any of the gaps.

Note: Some of the roll-on systems cannot be installed in cold weather below a certain temperature. See manufacturer’s specifications to confirm.

Peal and Stick Membrane
These types of membranes are considered waterproofing. Several manufacturers of sheet type peel and stick membranes provide product intended for use with EPS insulation. Follow membrane manufacturers installation requirements, including application of a primer coat where necessary, to ensure best adhesion to the exterior face of the Advantage ICF system. Many contractors use this method in combination with a dimpled membrane to get a superior waterproofing and drainage plane.

Note: Some of the peel and stick systems cannot be installed in cold weather below a certain temperature. See manufacturer’s specifications to confirm.

Dimpled Membrane
Several types of dimpled sheet membranes, such as SUPERSEAL Dimpled Membrane, have been evaluated for use as damp-proofing materials by the Canadian Construction Materials Centre (CCMC).  Membrane manufacturer instructions for installation as a damp proofing membrane must be followed when installing on the Advantage ICF system. The pros to this type of system is that it is a stronger thicker plastic that both protects the EPS foam from back-fill and also creates a permanent drainage plane between the soil and the foundation wall. Regardless of the type of damp-proofing you choose the dimpled membrane offers protection to your choice.

Damp-proofing or waterproofing is required by most building codes. Using one of the above methods of damp proofing should help greatly increase the chances of keeping your basement dry and comfortable for years to come.

Note: Contact an Advantage ICF sales representative for recommendations on specific products available in your area.

Visit for further information in damp-proofing and ICFs.

Energy Efficient Commercial Roofing with Insulspan SIPs

June 2, 2016

Insulspan SIPS CanadaWritten by Aaron Hinde, Sales Manager, Insulspan Blissfield

Energy Efficiency is just as important to commercial construction as it is to the residential homeowner who is paying their own energy bills. Today I will cover the Insulspan Structural Insulating Panel system (SIPs), another energy-efficient product that uses PlastiSpan insulation as a core material for the SIP. The energy efficiency of the SIP system, paired with the reduced site time and labor requirements make it an excellent all-in-one solution for commercial roof applications.

Insulspan SIPs are a good solution in commercial roofing for many reasons. Since time is money, and BOTH time AND money are important elements to control on a commercial construction site, you want to make sure you are using the best product to help you achieve that.

Roofs built with SIPs combine the tedious labor of framing, sheathing and insulating into an ultra-quick, one step installation process.

Completing your commercial structure with an Insulspan SIP roof is cost-effective due to the speed of completion you are able to achieve. SIPs require less skilled labor, equaling less time spent on-site. The building envelope can be locked up and ready for other sub trades quickly and be secured against theft, keeping costs down.

Insulspan manufactures what is known as jumbo panels; panels that are manufactured in dimensions of 8’x24’. Dependent upon load, SIPs can be designed to achieve spans with reduced spline connections (longitudinal lumber at panel joints) and therefore less overall material in the roof. The maximum span between supports such as beams or rafters will depend on the snow load, the thickness of panel, and the spline connection at the panel joints.

Appealing to architects & Engineers
In addition to the product itself being a good solution for commercial roofing, Insulspan also provides a large library of supporting documents for architects, engineers and specifiers. You can reference SIP code listing, installation manuals, MasterSpec, and even installation and construction details in either PFD or AutoCAD format at

Energy Efficiency
Not only do SIPs save resources in production and minimize waste generation, the high R-value and airtight nature of SIP construction when combined with other energy-efficient elements in the building envelope also reduces the amount of energy used in heating and cooling for the building, an important element when dealing with large commercial spaces.

Insulspan SIPs incorporate a core of PlastiSpan expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation with an R-value of 3.75 per inch. EPS is a closed-cell insulation, which maintains a constant R-value for the life of the product.

Thermal Insulation

The Insulspan SIP System provides airtight roof assemblies with higher effective thermal resistance than other construction methods. These properties allow the Insulspan SIP System to work in concert with other energy-efficient building components like windows, doors, and HVAC systems to reduce heat loss from 40 to 60 percent compared to typical wood-framed construction.

Completing your commercial roof with Insulspan SIPS means much less waste generated at your construction site. With conventional stick framing, several dumpsters full of sawn-off construction materials are hauled to landfills. But at Insulspan, we pre-engineer your entire project. Our computer-controlled, automated production environment means precise measurements and very little material waste in our manufacturing facilities. On-site, wall and roof panels fit together precisely, eliminating framing mistakes and cutting down wood studs to the desired length and throwing the rest away. You’ll save on site clean-up costs and waste disposal fees.

Ready to Assemble
The Insulspan SIP System is an industry-leading COMPLETE ready-to-assemble (RTA) system that gives a real competitive edge over traditional stick frame construction. The roof panels, like wall panels, are marked for location, interior side, and exterior side. In the RTA system, the spline lumber is all installed into the panels, so once you attach your lifting plates (also provided by Insulspan) to the panels, you are ready to fly them in and complete your project, one panel at a time.

So there you have it. A complete, enclosed commercial building, with excellent energy efficiency, high R-values, and completed with the speed and accuracy unrivaled in conventional framing.

Additional Resources:

US & Canada Code Reports:

Installation and Assembly Details:

The Insulspan MasterSpec:

Learn more about Insulspan SIP Roofs @


Plasti-Fab® GeoSpec® Lightweight Fill Material for Road Embankments

May 19, 2016

Plasti-FabI am sure you have been driving along, and seen sights like the one below, where the edge of the road is crumbling or breaking away because of the soil beneath.

road_embankOften poor soil conditions exist at rivers, muskegs or bogs where a bridge structure is supported on a firm foundation either directly or by piles. The road embankment is at increased depth due to the ground profile and the problem of soil settlement is emphasized.

Solutions to these settlement problems could include re-aligning the road to place it over firm ground. Alternatively, geotechnical engineers have long recognized the utility of using lightweight fill to reduce mass and associated gravitational driving forces.

Plasti-Fab GeoSpec Lightweight Fill Material is one of these solutions. GeoSpec lightweight fill material is typically at least 50 times lighter than other types of lightweight fill materials. GeoSpec lightweight fill can be used as a prefabricated fill in an area where it would be difficult to establish a compacted fill due to space limitations, adverse weather conditions, or site access.

Road projects across Canada have used Plasti-Fab GeoSpec lightweight fill to solve their soil conditions. One such example is the Highway 69 project that occurred in Ontario. The Ontario Ministry of Transportation began a massive construction project to widen Highway 69, a major north-south thoroughfare in northeastern Ontario. Between Estaire and Sudbury, the highway intersects the Canadian National Railway, causing engineers to construct a 300-meter long bridge over the railroad tracks. In order to achieve maximum durability and stability of the bridge structure, highway design engineers AECOM specified expanded polystyrene (EPS) fill material at the bridge abutments.

ontario bridge“The benefits associated with the use of EPS in embankment construction include the improvement of foundation stability, reduction of long-term settlement and reduction of the overall construction schedule,” said Jason Lee, a geotechnical engineer at Thurber Engineering, who worked as a geotechnical consultant for AECOM on the project.

Plasti-Fab GeoSpec lightweight fill material can be designed to withstand high compressive loads, but has a density less than one percent of traditional earth fill materials. The design properties of GeoSpec fill material are stable and very little lateral load is induced on adjacent structures when vertical load occurs. Earth fill material, in comparison, shifts and settles over time, meaning additional stress can be induced on bridge abutments and other concrete structures.

“Due to schedule constraints, the bridge structure was completed first and the approach fills constructed later,” said Lee. “The use of EPS in this project aimed at reducing the differential settlements (between the approach fill and bridge abutments) and limiting the lateral pile movements in the foundation of the bridge.”

O.C.P. Construction Supplies, a distributor for Plasti-Fab, provided more than 10,000 cubic meters of GeoSpec fill material for the bridge abutments. The material was installed by Teranorth Construction, a subcontractor of Pioneer Construction, who served as general contractor on the project.

“GeoSpec provides a unique solution for a lot of geotechnical engineering applications,” said Roland Bélanger, Senior Representative and GeoFoam Specialist for Plasti-Fab in Ontario and Quebec. “It was able to speed up the construction time of the Highway 69 bridge, provide a stable base for long-term durability, and reduce the stress against the structure itself.”

If you want to learn more about GeoSpec Lightweight Fill Material, visit our web site: or see some videos of the GeoSpec projects on YouTube.

How to make a Photo Board using Plasti-Fab HandiPac

May 11, 2016

Written by: Melissa Carruthers   @MelissaC_PFB

Spring is on its way; graduations are around the corner, and photo opportunities are inevitable.  I don’t know about you, but I always have certain photos that I want to display at different times. Problem is I don’t want to put pins in them, making it so I can’t use them somewhere else later. The solution to this problem I have found, is a photo board. It works best to display my pictures without the need for pin holes. All you need are some supplies that can be found in the insulation aisle @ your local Home Depot, Rona or Lowes. Once there, pick up a Plasti-Fab HandiPac in the insulation aisle.

Here is a list of supplies you will need (let me know if you find anything that works better then I’ve suggested)

HandiPac (1.5” works best but you can double up the ¾”)
Material (cotton works best but denim is fun) 26” X 60”
Ribbon (either 26’ or 32’)
Glue gun
Glue sticks (clear)
“Bling”(rhinestones or flat backed crystals)
Sewing pins

Now let’s get started.
The good part of buying a HandiPac is you can make more than one photo board. They work perfectly for a kid’s room, for new parents who take a million pictures or just in a room where you want to show off different pictures.

Step one: Place your material face down on the table and place one piece of PlastiSpan in the center of the material.

Step two: Pick one of the long sides to start with. Pull the material over the PlastiSpan board and onto the back of the insulation. Pin in 4 places to keep the material tight. Then move to the other side and repeat. Now you will need to adjust both sides to make sure the material is tight across the front. Add more pins as needed to secure the material.

Step three: Now move to the short end, take out one pin on either side of the long end and you’ll need to fold the material like you are wrapping a present. I found placing a pin in the end to hold the material in place works well.  Fold the material up and over and pin into place. Make sure to replace the two pins you removed and repeat on the other end. HINT: I’ve found pins work better then glue; less messy and more forgiving.

Step four: Ribbon placement. You have 2 options with ribbon; one is to cut 12 pieces 26” long so you will need 26’ of ribbon or to just get 32’ of ribbon.

Option #1: Start in a corner and attach on piece in a diagonal, secure on the side with pins. Repeat this every 6 or 7” across the photo board. When you get to the other end, start in the opposite corner and go the other way. You should end up with the ribbon crossing at different places (middle, top and bottom). After you have made sure the ribbon is in the right place, flip over the board, remove the pins from the side of the board and attach to the back.

Option #2: Again you will start in a corner and secure it but instead of securing it piece by piece, continue wrapping the ribbon around until you get to the other end. Secure it and cut the ribbon. Now repeat and go back the other way. This way uses more ribbon but is easier and faster. Again you should end up with the ribbon crossing at different places (middle, top and bottom)

Now every where the ribbon crosses you will need to glue or pin it down so your photos will stay in place. A hot glue gun works best.

Step four: BLING IT! To give this piece a finished look, I attached flat backed crystals using a hot glue gun to the ribbon every time the ribbons cross. This isn’t a necessary step but it does finish off the photo board.

Now you have a finished board, ready to be populated with all those photos of summers at the lake, skiing trips, and all the other moments we love to capture in life! Just hang the photo board, by attaching it to the wall and then place photos in.


For more information on Plasti-Fab HandiPacs, Visit the products section of the Plasti-Fab web site:


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