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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:

General Contractor Relies on PlastiSpan HD for Residential Remodeling

April 11, 2016

For contractor Yves Voyer, Plasti-Fab EPS products have become a go-to solution for energy-efficient retrofits. Voyer owns YVEX Construction, a Gatineau, Quebec-based general contracting firm specializing in residential and commercial remodeling. On residential remodels, Voyer is able to increase the energy efficiency of nearly any home by applying Plasti-Fab PlastiSpan® insulation to the exterior walls.

PlastiSpan is a moulded expanded polystyrene insulation that provides long-lasting thermal insulation and eliminates thermal bridging through
wood studs.

“PlastiSpan insulation is very easy to install, and with 4’x8’ sheets it goes up very fast,” said Voyer.

On a recent remodel of a 1,200 sq. ft. bungalow in Gatineau, Quebec, Voyer was able to quickly wrap the house with 2.25-inch PlastiSpan insulation.

Coupled with new doors and windows, the remodel increased the air tightness of the house by 200 percent and earned the client ecoEnergy Retrofit grants from Natural Resources Canada for both added insulation and airtightness. PlastiSpan insulation is listed with the federal Environmental Choice Program.

“When I finished the job and the testing results came in, the client was very happy,” said Voyer. “In the future when I need to insulate, I will always look for Plasti-Fab products.”

“PlastiSpan insulation is an easy way to significantly increase the energy efficiency of a home,” said François Brossard, a Sales Representative for Plasti-Fab.

“Adding insulation provides the most bang for your buck when doing an energy-efficient remodel. PlastiSpan is inexpensive, easy to work with, and available from most building supply stores.”


A Step-by-Step Guide to Using DuroSpan™ to Insulate your Basement Floor

March 17, 2016

As the weather begins to turn towards spring, many get the urge to begin home renovations. One of the easiest ways to make a space usable is to insulate it. So today, we are going to discuss how to insulate your basement floor with a laminated EPS product called DuroSpan. DuroSpan (also known as DuroFoam in Canada) has a green film laminated to the top of the rigid foam board, and a silver film laminated to the bottom. The laminated faces enable the board to be curled, bent, twisted, and cut without breaking or chipping. Your work space is cleaner and your project is finished in a short amount of time!

3D RenderingNow for some basics on what DuroSpan is.  DuroSpan is a closed cell EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) insulation, sold in 4×8 foot sheets. DuroSpan is suitable and recommended as the insulation component in the topic of our discussion: basement floors. Below is a step by step guide on how to insulate your basement floor above the slab to create a comfortable, usable space.

STEP 1: Be sure to follow the building code requirements applicable in your region. 

STEP 2: Install a Moisture Barrier – Cover the entire floor area with a 6-mil polyethylene moisture barrier to eliminate moisture migration into your living area. Plan your project to place your insulation and nailers at 24” on center across the floor in one direction.

STEP 3: Attach Perimeter Nailers – Attach nailer with the same thickness as the insulation, around the perimeter, using self-tapping concrete screws penetrating the concrete floor as recommended by the screw manufacturer.

STEP 4: Install Nailers and Insulation – Cut the first row of insulation to a 21-3/4” width. Cut subsequent rows to 22-1/2” widths. Use the insulation cut as guides to place successive rows of nailers at 24” on centers. The green face of DuroSpan insulation should face up to make use of the markings for ease of cutting insulation spacing the nailers.

STEP 5: Prepare to Lay Sub-Floor – Mark the walls where the nailer centres intersect it to help locate the nailers when attaching the sub-floor. The sub-floor thickness should be 5/8”. Snap chalk lines across the nailers to ensure the sub floor material is placed squarely.

STEP 6: Secure the Sub-Floor -Be sure to stagger the floor sheathing joints for extra stability. Apply adhesive to the nailers. Fasten the 5/8” floor sheathing directly to the nailers using either ringed nails or deck screws every 8”. With an air nailer, use 2-inch ringed floor sheathing or screw nails. With a screw gun, use 1-1/2” or 1-3/4” deck screws.

STEP 7: Ready for Floor Finishing. – Your basement floor is now correctly insulated and ready for your final decorating touch. You should notice the finished floor is now much more comfortable.

family enjoyingAnd the most important step…. ENJOY your newly insulated and finished space!

For more information on Plasti-Fab’s DuroSpan insulation, visit: Plasti-Fab

What to use for damp-proofing on my ICF foundation

March 7, 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.

Plasti-Fab® EPS solutions cut utility bills for Saskatoon homeowners

March 3, 2016



Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada

Mills Residence Saskatoon DuroFoam Insulation Advantage ICF SystemContractor Brennen Mills has specialized in insurance contracting for nearly a decade, repairing homes damaged by fire and flooding as the owner of Saskatoon Fire and Flood.  In 2015, a house fire rendered one Saskatoon residence damaged beyond repair.  Working closely with the homeowners, Mills helped them design and build a new 2,144 sq. ft. home in its place that would be comfortable, energy efficient, and sustainable.

Mills’ energy-efficient design started below the home’s basement floor.  He placed three inches of Plasti-Fab® DuroFoam® expanded polystyrene (EPS) beneath the concrete slab.  DuroFoam’s closed-cell structure resists moisture and delivers a long-term, consistent R-value of 3.9 per inch of material.

“We insulate below the slab for the comfort factor,” said Mills.  “It keeps the basement floor a lot warmer.”

Construction 2 photoFor the below-grade walls, Mills selected the Advantage ICF System®.  Advantage is a patented insulating concrete forming system that provides a continuous layer of EPS insulation on both the interior and exterior walls.  It offers superior thermal resistance and lower air leakage for improved energy efficiency.

“The intent was to make the home energy efficient,” said Mills.

“Advantage ICFs are user friendly, they are available locally, and they create a great finished product.”

Mills also installed two-inches of DuroFoam on the outside of the home’s above grade walls for added insulation and to reduce thermal bridging through the wood framing.

“The walls have spray foam insulation with DuroFoam on the outside,” said Mills.  “The exterior insulation stops the thermal bridging and creates a really energy-efficient wall.”

By combining the insulating power of DuroFoam and the Advantage ICF System, Mills constructed a home that exceeded the homeowner’s expectations for both energy efficiency and thermal comfort.

Main photo

“Brennen really utilized the full capability of Plasti-Fab’s EPS products to build an excellent, energy-efficient home,” said Plasti-Fab Sales Representative Wade McClelland. “His use of DuroFoam created a perimeter of continuous insulation around the exterior of the home and really helped the homeowners save on energy costs.”

Learn how Plasti-Fab insulation and the Advantage ICF System can help you achieve energy efficient, comfortable living. |

From Trailer to Tiny House in an afternoon: The SIP Solution

January 21, 2016

Insulspan Tiny House 07Just like building a custom home, every tiny house is unique. Building on a smaller scale allows the homeowner to really dig into every detail, every finish, and every material that is being used. Tiny house owners must use as efficient design tools and building materials as they possibly can to make the most of their tiny home. This is where the Insulspan SIP system shines. Being a structurally insulated panel, not only is the process of enclosing the shell complete in one step, but you get superior energy efficiency.

The speed of installing an Insulspan Ready-To-Assemble System was put to the test one Saturday morning in July when we arrived in site to help the homeowner to construct his Tumbleweed home. Armed with tools and an installation manual provided by Insulspan, we began the process of assembling the home on an approved, weight-bearing trailer.

Following the plans, we assembled the house piece by piece, with the only difference being the need for the engineered fastening system to secure it to the trailer. By mid-afternoon, we had a completely enclosed shell that created an insulated building envelope.

You can follow our progress throughout the day in the gallery below:

Windows and doors installed, and completed house wrapped, this tiny house is ready for exterior finishes.

Windows and doors installed, and completed house wrapped, this tiny house is ready for exterior finishes.

The homeowner, who’s desire to have a home that he could easily place on his wooded property in Northern Michigan, completed the house wrap (provided by Insulspan), and began to work on his exterior finishes.

“One of the nicest things about a tiny house, is I could pull it into my barn and work on finishing it at my pace.”

With his Tiny House complete, the homeowner is ready to take it to its final destination in Northern Michigan.

“I could literally heat my home with one space heater because of how energy efficient it is! And I can’t believe how fast and easy it went together. It saved me a lot of steps later on.”

For more information on Insulspan Structural insulated panels and how you can build your tiny home, visit 

Tiny House, Insulspan SIPs wall and roof package

Tiny House, Insulspan SIPs wall and roof package


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