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Green Roof Transformation: Repairing & Redefining Space with Plasti-Fab GeoSpec®

March 12, 2018

Plasti-Fab_WTagline_surveyCalgary, Alberta
Plasti-Fab® EPS Product Solution provides compressive resistance and quick installation

When the city-owned roof covering a portion of a local fire hall and hotel began to leak, the task of repairing the 300 s.f. area began, and with it came the re-imagining of the space overall. Up to that point, the ill-defined and publicly-accessible rooftop patio was not regularly maintained. Over time, it became unkempt, was used primarily as a smoking area, and attracted too many late-night visitors. After leveling the existing structures that served as seating or planter boxes, the city elected to gate the area and turn it into an outdoor venue for hotel functions.

calgary-firehall-project-2016-01Repairing the space and redefining its purpose required special consideration for the materials to be used. The city engaged a local landscape design firm that contacted Plasti-Fab for a solution. Aaron Rennie, Director of Market Development at Plasti-Fab, explained the firm specified “the project needed a fill material that could add height, be used across a wide area, have compressive resistance to withstand weight from snow, landscaping and people, while minimizing additional weight on the structure below.”

calgary-firehall-project-2016-02The answer was Plasti-Fab’s GeoSpec® lightweight fill material, also referred to as expanded polystyrene (EPS) Geofoam. Plasti-Fab’s GeoSpec blocks are designed to support heavy compressive loads, but has a density of less than 1 percent of traditional earth materials. It was ideal for this project given the uniform elevation requirements above the roof deck would level changes in the roof line and create the desired public space. Adding thousands of pounds of material to achieve that could have exceeded the capacity of the concrete roof structure beneath.

calgary-firehall-project-2016-03Not only did GeoSpec address the weight issue, it checked another construction box as well: speed of installation. EPS Geofoam can be cut with a handsaw, and certainly a power ripsaw, thereby allowing for “field fitting,” Aaron points out. “It can be easily cut to fit in the typical areas – like corners and edges – but allows installers to easily accommodate changes in elevation.”

For more than 50 years, EPS Geofoam has been used in projects involving roads, bridge approach fills, slope stabilization, embankments, foundations, and landscaping. Plasti-Fab is proud to add this project to our profile list, and contribute to a new, beautifully designed public space that offers hotel guests and event attendees stunning vistas of downtown Calgary.

Learn more about Plasti-Fab’s GeoFoam solutions now at 

PlastiSpan Sloped Roof Insulation Solutions

March 7, 2018

PlastiSpan Sloped Roof Insulation
Written by Guest Writer: Neil Henrikson, Plasti-Fab Roofing Sales Expert

Moisture infiltration is a contributing factor to the premature failure of buildings. The roof of any structure is the first line of defense against rain or melting snow and ice.

Plasti-Fab manufactures sloped insulation products for almost any roofing system used in today’s roofing industry.

Plasti-Fab has manufacturing facilities across Canada that are equipped to supply sloped insulation. PlastiSpan sloped insulation provides positive drainage to any drains located on the surface of the roof structure, including scuppers located at parapets or gutters. The percentage of slope can range from 1/16” per foot (1/2%) to 2” per foot (6%) and beyond in custom applications. A wide range of insulation physical properties are available to accommodate your needs.

The Plasti-Fab roofing sales representative experts work closely with design professionals and roofing contractors to ensure that the sloped insulation design matches the necessary requirements for any individual project. Experts at Plasti-Fab use a proprietary roofing CAD program to provide layouts for evaluation by designers and installation instructions for roofing contractors. The layouts can be easily adjusted in the event that drains are moved or structural limitations are exceeded.

Another added benefit of using PlastiSpan sloped roofing insulation is the energy efficient R-Value the product provides. Average R-Values or RSI are calculated with each design. This gives the design professional the ability to adjust insulation requirements to coincide with the needs of the mechanical system.

The large majority of older buildings do not have insulation in the roofing system or the insulation is not sufficient for today’s cost to operate the building energy efficiently. Using PlastiSpan sloped roofing Insulation in a retrofit of an older roof, not only provides positive drainage protection but also contributes to long term savings in operating costs.

Contact your Plasti-Fab Sales representative for more information. Find yours here!
Learn more about Sloped roofing insulation now.

What are…

Scuppers: A scupper is an opening in the side walls of an open-air structure, for purposes of draining water. Buildings with railed rooftops can construct scuppers to let rainwater drain off, instead of pooling within the railing of the roof. Scuppers can also be placed in a parapet, for the same purpose. 

Parapets: A parapet is a wall-like barrier at the edge of a roof, terrace, balcony or other structure. Where extending above a roof, it may simply be the portion of an exterior wall that continues above the line of the roof surface, or may be a continuation of a vertical feature beneath the roof such as a fire wall or party wall.

Gutters: Gutter, the trough or duct under the eaves of a building.

Precast Concrete Tilt-up Walls for Energy Efficiency Commercial Construction

February 19, 2018

Plasti-Fab_WTagline_surveyAnother energy efficient wall solution in commercial construction is the precast concrete panel option. Also known as tilt-up walls, they can be easily and economically insulated by incorporating Plasti-Fab PlastiSpan insulation into the panel when they are manufactured. The panel can then be easily placed during the construction process, providing a fully insulated finished wall or floor section. You can imagine how much time this saves in commercial construction.

Precast-DiagramThe precast concrete panel is usually constructed so the interior shell of the panel is structural and will support wind loads or any other loads expected. Since it is insulated from the weather it will not be subjected to extremes of thermal expansion and contraction and will be a more suitable unit. The windows are mounted on the interior shell which is more stable. The interior shell acts as a heat source for the window, warming it and allowing for a higher relative humidity in the building before condensation occurs on the window.

How are the walls made?
The panel is usually poured exterior face down so any architectural details can be incorporated into the mould. Concrete is poured over the exterior shell reinforcing to the depth required for the thickness of the exterior skins, then vibrated as necessary. Shear ties are worked into the wet concrete or in some cases the shear ties are placed as the concrete is poured.

precast02Some designs require a bond breaker between insulation and exterior shell. 2 mil polyethylene will provide this requirement. PlastiSpan insulation boards are placed over the wet concrete allowing space for concrete web around perimeter where necessary. Reinforcing for the inner shell is placed. To complete the wall, concrete is poured to finished thickness of panel, again vibrating as necessary. The surface of concrete is troweled as required. The concrete is allowed to set and cure as normal, and then the panel is ready to be handled as usual.

The total thickness of concrete in the panel is usually accepted in order to determine the fire rating of the panel. Fire testing to verify this rating has been completed in other countries. Where the panels are designed for long spans it is desirable to separate the PlastiSpan insulation along the length of the panel to divide the flammable component into two or more compartments.

precast01Finish Solutions
A spray-on finish is standard for a ceiling finish on the underside of the panel. When used as a roof panel the insulation on the panel may be used to calculate the thermal resistance over the area to be covered by the roof. Additional insulation over the slab is often required in conjunction with the roof membrane to reduce the effect of the thermal short at the concrete webs. We will cover the Plasti-Fab roofing insulation solutions a little further along in this blog series.

To learn more about these Tilt-up walls as a solution to your commercial construction project, contact us today. 1-88-THINK EPS® or visit

Under slab Insulation Using PlastiSpan® Insulation

February 9, 2018


Cold weather seems like it is here to stay, and if you listen to the groundhog – we have 6 more week of winter! Why endure the cold with your basement slab or commercial slab? Insulating under your concrete slab using PlastiSpan insulation is another excellent way to reduce thermal loss from your commercial building, keeping it warmer and energy efficient.


As in many other commercial building applications, Plasti-Fab offers a range of PlastiSpan insulation types that can be used for this purpose. Typically for underslab insulation a minimum of PlastiSpan HD INSULATION is recommended, to provide the required compressive resistance to support loads on concrete slabs for commercial building applications. There are also higher compressive resistance PlastiSpan insulation types available if the engineering design for the concrete slab requires it. These products would include PlastiSpan 20, PlastiSpan 25, PlastiSpan 30 and PlastiSpan 40 insulation. Plasti-Fab provides Product Information Bulletins with material properties to help designers choose the appropriate product for the application.

So how do you go about making your commercial project energy-efficient with the PlastiSpan insulation under your concrete slab? First, you place and level a layer of granular fill over the floor area. Then cover the leveled granular fill material with moisture barrier. A 6 mil polyethylene is often used as the moisture barrier. When you have completed this, lay PlastiSpan HD insulation over the moisture barrier. Ensure that the joints are tightly butted together. Trim around the perimeter and openings as required.

underslab high compressive

Reinforcing steel or mesh as required by the engineering design for the concrete slab is placed using chairs or supports that distribute the weight of the reinforcing steel/mesh on the surface of the insulation and ensure the reinforcing steel/mesh  is located within the slab thickness as required.  Your concrete is then placed and finished over the insulation layer . You now have a continuous layer of insulation below your concrete slab, which will reduce thermal loss through the slab.

  And there you have it, a very easy way to make your commercial project more Energy Efficient with PlastiSpan insulation. Learn more about under slab insulation – check out both our commercial AND residential applications.

Homeowner heats up his basement with PlastiSpan HD Hydronic Insulation

January 19, 2018

Plasti-Fab_WTagline_surveyLike most homeowners, Philippe Clairo disliked cold basements. So when he and his wife Cat Hackman had the chance to design a 2,300 sq. ft. custom residence, they went for a radiant heating system in the basement for complete comfort and energy performance.


“Coming from a house where our basement was always cold, we knew we wanted to heat the basement,” said Clairo. “I turned to Plasti-Fab and asked them if they had any products that could help us out.”


Plasti-Fab provided Clairo with PlastiSpan® HD hydronic insulation, a specialty product for radiant heating systems. The closed-cell rigid foam insulation is equipped as the first component in the radiant heating system to lessen heat loss beneath the floor system and provides uniform heat distribution. Unlike traditional radiant heating assemblies that depend on rebar and metal ties to affix the hydronic tubing, PlastiSpan HD hydronic insulation has pre-routed channels that hold tubing in place without any mechanical fasteners. Clairo, who saw the installation, observed the apparent advantage of PlastiSpan HD hydronic insulation over the traditional approach.

“With the floor installation, there was a little frustration from the trades at first, because they were not used to it,” he said. “But as soon as they got it, they installed it really fast. They said it took two hours instead of four to install the insulation.”


The efficiency of the radiant heating system backed by PlastiSpan HD hydronic insulation was paired with DuroFoam® insulation on below grade walls to produce a warm, comfortable basement that the whole family can enjoy. The lower level holds a recreation room, a small home theater, exercise area, and guest bedroom.

“In the basement, it is night and day with what we had before in terms of heat,” said Clairo. “Working with Plasti-Fab has been great,” he added. “The product was always on time, it was easy to install, and all the trades working here have been very impressed with it.”

Learn how you can use Plasti-Fab’s Hydronic Insulation for your home!

Pouring Concrete in Cold Weather with Advantage ICFs

January 3, 2018

Advantage ICF

Living in Canada, a question I frequently get asked is “how cold of temperatures can I pour concrete into ICF blocks?”

#concrete #Canada #coldweather #constructionConcrete construction during cold weather conditions requires special consideration to ensure that the concrete achieves the desired strength prior to freezing. Conventional concrete form walls can be constructed in all seasons; however, during cold weather months special measures must be taken to prevent the concrete from freezing. The special measures may include the use of windbreaks, insulated form work and/or heaters. These extra measures can greatly increase construction costs.

And now for the good news!  Advantage Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) offer the ability to pour concrete into your walls at temperatures colder than that of conventional concrete forms due to their high insulating properties. This ability can drastically extend your construction season, possibly allowing you to pour all year round. In very cold weather conditions, minimal precautions may be required, especially at wall penetrations and edges.

#concrete #Canada #coldweather #constructionMany studies have been done on this topic and they have all concluded basically that concrete can be placed in ICF walls at temperatures much lower than that allowed for concrete walls using conventional forming systems.

Unfortunately I cannot give exact temperatures because people reading this may be in different climates around the world. However, I can say that using Advantage ICF blocks instead of conventional will prevent freezing and reduce or even eliminate the need for a heated enclosure. Covering the top of these forms is essential to retain all the heat of hydration.

Many building officials who are not familiar with Advantage ICF blocks may require ICF wall pours to follow the typical cold weather concrete practices that were developed for conventional concrete forms. Cold weather concrete practices may vary between jurisdictions. Be sure to check with your local official before pouring concrete on a cold day in your area. Also check with your ready-mix concrete supplier to see what options they for concrete being poured in cold weather.


Do you have more indepth questions about pouring concrete in cold weather and how the Advantage ICF System is ideal for this? Comment with your questions on this blog below and we can continue the conversation.

or for more on Advantage Insulating Concrete Forms visit

2017 Year In Review

December 21, 2017

A look back at the most popular blogs of the year

As we near the end of 2017, we always evaluate what sparked your interest the most over these last 12 months. So before we ring in a new year with new topics and lots of exciting new territory,  let’s take a quick tour through the most popular blogs of the year.


  1. How to attach finishes to my ICF walls
  2. How-to do electrical in my ICF walls
  3. Rebar in ICF walls
  4. What to use for damp-proofing on my ICF foundation
  5. Interior insulation for foundation/basement walls
  6. Step footings using the Advantage ICF System
  7. The Doren Home, Suspended Garage Slab
  8. DuroFoam Customer Interview
  9. A step-by-step guide to using DuroSpan to insulate your basement floor
  10. SIP Ventilation Part III: The Roof

If you missed any of these popular blogs, we invite you to take a tour through the blog and read at your leisure.

As we move into the new year, we at Plasti-Fab are looking forward to sharing some great new topics, stories, blog series and more with you. Stay tuned to learn why 2018 is called Plasti-Fab’s “Golden” year…

Golden year

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