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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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Wrap up your year, and your home with EPS Insulation by Plasti-Fab

December 12, 2017

As we begin to wrap up 2017, we cannot stress enough the importance of good insulation for your home or business. Insulation is the key to keeping your home comfortable regardless of the weather, and save you money in the process.

People are continually looking at different ways to increase their energy efficiency and decrease their energy costs. So what do they do? Replace windows and doors. Well that’s a great start, but what about all that space between your windows and doors? How much energy do you think is leaving through your walls every day? Parents are always after their kids to shut the door so we don’t let the heat or cool air out but in reality, you could be losing up to 33% of your heating and cooling through your walls each day due to thermal bridges caused by the wood studs that frame your wall.

So how do we solve this problem? That’s where CONTINUOUS exterior INSULATING sheathing OVER THE EXTERIOR OF YOUR FRAMED WALL comes in. Think of CONTINUOUS exterior INSULATING sheathing as MONOLITHIC blanket that you wrap around your home, keeping the temperature stable, and increasing the energy efficiency.That’s where continuous exterior insulating sheathing over the exterior of your wood framed wall comes in. Think of exterior insulating sheathing insulation a monolithic blanket that you wrap around your home, keeping the temperature stable, and increasing the energy efficiency. If this is something you want to pursue to save on energy costs and improve the overall comfort of your home, we recommend EPS rigid insulation as a solution.

It is more cost effective and time effective to increase the R-value of your above grade wall by insulating from the outside in then from the inside out. Make sure you check your local building code; see what they have for rules, requirements and restrictions. This will save you from problems later on.

We have a good selection of rigid insulation that can be used as continuous exterior insulating sheathing. By adding PlastiSpan, PlastiSpan HD, EnerSpan or DuroFoam/DuroSpan insulation to your home we will increase your energy efficiency and decrease your costs. .

A little overview of the 5 types so you can chose the best for your application

  • PlastiSpan insulation has the lowest cost/R-value for rigid insulation
  • PlastiSpan HD insulation gives you a slightly higher R-Value and compressive strength.
  • EnerSpan insulation is a graphite-enhanced EPS insulation made with Neopor by BASF, with silver-gray that provides an enhanced R-value
  • DuroFoam and DuroSpan insulation are PlastiSpan or EnerSpan insulation with a laminated film on both sides.

By using any one of these EPS rigid foam insulation product in your home, you will increase the R-value, and therefore comfort of your home. So while you wrap up your year and begin to prepare for 2018, don’t forget to wrap your home in one of the most cost effective EPS insulation solutions.

Need help deciding which product is right for you? Call us today! We will help you select the best EPS product solution for YOUR project! 888-446-5377

OR visit us online at

BONUS Feature: Holiday Decorations Made Easy with Plasti-Fab EPS

December 6, 2017

Yesterday we talked about making a winter wonderland with Plasti-Fab EPS, and as a follow up to that, today we will cover how to make some of the smaller decorations for the holidays. To save us time, reference How to Make a Winter Wonderland out of EPS Foam for the tips and tricks and the tools you need to complete your project. These are just a few examples of the types of things you can create with just a little foam.

Let’s get started….

Using Plasti-Fab EPS Handi-pac foam, create any word cutout to use as decoration.

Letter Cutouts

  1. To create cutout letters, start by laying a paper template over your sheet of foam. In this instance, we are going to use the word JOY. Trace your letters onto the EPS with a marker. The marker will show up the best, and since you will be painting the letters, it is okay if a little still shows once you cut them out.
  2. Cut out your letters with either your hot knife or utility knife. Since you will be cutting clean through the foam, make sure you have a safe work area that will not be damaged by the knife.
  3. Paint your letters with a non-oil base paint – acrylics work the best, and give you great coverage and vibrant color.
  4. After your paint has dried, apply any other decorative elements like buttons, ribbons glitter etc with foam-safe glue.
  5. Now you can finish this off either by leaving the letters separate and arranging them however you like, or you can attach them to a foam base using the glue or wooden dowels (depending on the height of your letters). This will keep your letters together to be displayed as one piece.
  6. Show off your decor!

3D Reindeer

You can also create 3D stand alone decorations with foam thanks to it’s rigid material properties. In this segment we will be going over how to make reindeer that stand in front of your fireplace or even greet guests at the door.

  1. Determine how you will assemble the pieces of your reindeer. Are you gluing/dowel connecting the pieces or will your pieces fit together with slots cut into the pieces to self-stand? Once you decide which method you would like to use, (we will be illustrating the first one) overlay paper templates onto the foam, tracing them onto the EPS with a marker.
  2. Using your hot knife or utility knife, cut out the template pieces. If you are not going to paint this piece, using a hot knife will provide a better edge, and more precise cutting so that none of the marker remains on the foam. You CAN sand the edges to create a smoother finish and remove any color remaining.
  3. Beginning with the legs, position them so they will stand level on a solid surface, and adhere them to the body using PL600 or small wooden dowels pressed into the foam. Keep in mind, glued legs will NOT move, and dowel legs will be more flexible.
  4. Finish the assembly with the antlers, glue being recommended here to make sure they do not move.
  5. Now you can embellish your reindeer with anything from garland to bows, paint, etc.
  6. And display!


The last thing we are going to create today is a snowman, that can sit either inside or outside. This particular project has no cutting, tracing, etc. Just some creative assembly.

  1. Purchase 3 box style coolers that are 3 different sizes.
  2. Stack, then glue the coolers together to create the base of your snowman
  3. Now you simply decorate them however you like!
  4. Insert arms with gloves, or adhere buttons to the front.
  5. Remember when drawing on the EPS, a sharpie or felt tip marker will show up the best.
  6. Add a scarf, hat, etc. and you are ready. Lightweight snowmen that won’t melt regardless of the temperature!

We hope you have enjoyed our mini series on crafts and decorations using our PlastiSpan insulation and handi-pac foam. Remember you can pick these up at your local Home Depot.

For more information on Plasti-Fab EPS Product Solutions, visit us at