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The Top 4 Reasons you should be building with Advantage ICFs

August 2, 2016

Advantage ICFICF interlockInsulating concrete forms are not a new concept to the building industry. However, there are some features that set each manufacturer apart from one another. At Plasti-Fab, we have 4 key features that set the product apart from the rest in the industry, creating a better building product that meets the needs of not only the homeowner but the builders that work with them.

1. Patented Interlock Design
The Advantage ICF Systems patented tongue and groove interlock design on the horizontal joints allows tight nesting of the blocks. The groove on the bottom edge of EPS panels interlocks with the tongue on the top edge of EPS panels making it easier to apply a consistent even bead of foam adhesive in critical areas to interlock the blocks tightly. This eliminates the need for internal metal hooks that
interrupt concrete flow during placement or interfere with internal mechanical vibration essential for proper concrete consolidation as recommended by the Portland Cement Association to avoid voids in ICF walls (see PCA Bulletin RD134 “Concrete Consolidation and Potential for Voids in ICF Wall”).

The Advantage ICF System tongue and groove interlock design provides an additional barrier for moisture migration through the horizontal seams.

2. TTabs for surface attachmentabs to keep attachment surfaces aligned
Advantage ICF System is the only ICF product that features tabs within the horizontal interlock design. Advantage ICF block internal webs tie the monolithic EPS insulation panels in place and provide 1 ½” wide attachment surfaces for your interior and exterior finishes. Tabs incorporated into the tongue on the top edge of the EPS panels slip into grooves on the bottom edge of the row above to keep the webs aligned making attachment of finishes easier and faster.

There are some areas where the tabs may have to be removed due to project specific installation issues. This is done with little effort with the horizontal tongue and groove interlock between blocks maintained. This interlock feature means less waste than reversible ICF Blocks.

3. Easy to find Markings
An embossed line on the exterior surface of EPS pan¬els marks the middle of the 1 ½” wide vertical attachment surfaces on internal webs making it easy to find the surfaces for fastening interior and exterior finishes. All Advantage ICF System blocks are also marked with a vertical recessed cAdvantage ICF Easy to use tabsut line every inch to facilitate cutting blocks to length when required.

“Because this was our first ICF home, it was a bit of an unknown at the beginning. Advantage provided us with on-site support and training and once we got into a bit, everything worked well. I’m very comfortable working with ICFs now, it’s really a breeze—light, clean and easy to handle.”

4. Brick Ledge Block
The Advantage ICF System Brick Ledge Block features a continuous uninterrupted concrete ledge. When brick ledge blocks are included in any ICF system horizontal steel reinforcement and stirrups are required in the concrete ledge portion to support loads. The Advantage ICF Brick Ledge Block features a web unique to the ICF industry that is molded into the EPS panel that forms the brick ledge. Attachment surfaces on internal webs within the EPS panel are consistent to the top of the ledge for easier fastening of required exterior finish materials to, a benefit only provided by the Advantage ICF Brick Ledge Block.

This superiBrickledgeor design of the Advantage ICF Brick Ledge Block allows it to be used to provide uniform support for cladding such as brick or stone and can also be used for support of interior or exterior concrete slabs. All concrete reinforcement is totally encapsulated within the concrete so it is not exposed to moisture which can lead to long term deterioration through corrosion. This is a significant improvement over other ICF designs that use EPS haunches molded into one face of the EPS panel. These haunches are considered structural voids and do not allow the steel reinforcement to be protected from moisture.

An added bonus to building with the Advantage ICF product is the peace of mind you get, knowing it has a GreenGuard GOLD certification status. It’s not only a green product, but the company works to maintain the highest standards of sustainability in product and practice. To learn more about the sustainability initiative, visit

GREENGUARD_UL2818_gold_CMYK_GreenRead more on the Advantage ICF System today!

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.


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