Better Building Ideas from the Ground up: Commercial Series

Welcome to our commercial construction series where we will essentially “build” a commercial structure with Plasti-Fab’s energy efficient EPS products. Over the course of the next month, we will begin with below grade applications and work our way all the way to the roof!

Below Grade Solutions

Every good structure starts with a good foundation. In our EPS product solutions for commercial construction series we will be covering below grade products for applications such as soil stabilization, compressible fill material, geotechnical requirements, high compressive resistant insulation, as well as below grade wall solutions. During our series, we will address multiple product solutions for the different type of below grade applications as Plasti-Fab manufactures multiple product solutions that can be used in your project.

Above Grade Wall Solutions

Depending on the type of commercial structure your project entails, there are multiple insulation solutions to choose from in order to suit the building needs. As a manufacturer of not just a wide variety of rigid foam options but also ICF block, insulation for EIFS, structural insulated panels (SIPs), and precast concrete tilt up walls, we will be addressing multiple types of above grade wall solutions in our series.

Roof Insulation

Lastly, we will finish up our series by completing the roof of our structure. Again, with varying options to choose from to create a highly efficient thermal envelope, this series will include roofing solutions such as PlastiSpan® sloped roofing insulation, Insulspan® SIPS, as well as rigid foam options for your commercial project.

At Plasti-Fab the success of our customers is important to us. We work with you throughout your commercial construction project to ensure the best customer service experience.

The Better Building Ideas Solution

We are excited to begin this series and share the EPS product solutions for a better built commercial building. Whether you are the owner who will be receiving the reduced energy bills due to the highly efficient structure, or the contractor who needs to complete the project in a short time frame, Plasti-Fab has insulation solutions to make your project a success.

About Plasti-Fab

Plasti-Fab’s mission is to provide its customers with expanded polystyrene (EPS) Product Solutions for constructing energy efficient buildings, floatation for marine construction, lightweight fill and compressible fill for Geotechnical construction projects, and component solutions for Original Equipment Manufacturers.

With manufacturing locations all across Canada and the United States, we supply products that are code-listed in both the US and Canada, as well as GreenGuard® Gold certified, we help you reach your project goals through a variety of products.

Learn more about Plasti-Fab Commercial Solutions.

GeoFoam Solutions by Plasti-Fab – Not your average fill material

You may have heard the term “geofoam” and thought to yourself, “Okay, so I replace my dirt with foam and move on…” But in reality, it is far more versatile than one would initially think. Generically speaking, geofoam is an engineered product that stabilizes roads, embankments, buildings, and nearly everything that would sit on regular soil fill material and require a lot of compacting and dirt. The strength and compressive resistance of geofoam is what makes it the star of today’s feature.

Expanded polystyrene (EPS) geofoam has been used as a geotechnical material since the 1960s. EPS geofoam is approximately 1% the weight of soil and less than 10% the weight of other lightweight fill alternatives. As a lightweight fill, EPS geofoam reduces the loads imposed on adjacent and underlying soils and structures. EPS geofoam is not a general soil fill replacement material but is intended to solve engineering challenges. The use of EPS typically translates into benefits to construction schedules and lowers the overall cost of construction because it is easy to handle during construction, often without the need for special equipment, and is unaffected by occurring weather conditions.

Applications using geofoam

EPS geofoam is inherently multi-functional, which makes it effective to use in a wide variety of applications. It offers special advantages for construction on soft ground, slope stabilization and retaining walls. EPS geofoam has been used in road and airfield pavements and railway track
systems, beneath refrigerated storage buildings, sports arenas and storage tanks to prevent ground freezing and heaving and in below-ground building segments to reduce seasonal heating and cooling requirements.

With unprecedented strength and flexibility, EPS geofoam also offers innovative solutions to a range of problems, including protection from earthquake shock and noise and vibration dampening.

You can learn more about geofoam applications on our Geofoam Solutions tab on 

The list of applications that benefit from geofoam solutions is lengthy, and may surprise you that it is not JUST a below grade solution. Applications include:

  • Road construction over poor soils
  • Road widening
  • Bridge abutment
  • Bridge underfill
  • Culverts, pipelines & buried structures
  • Compensating foundation
  • Rail embankment
  • Landscaping & vegetative green roofs
  • Retaining and buried wall backfill
  • Slope stabilization
  • Stadium & theater seating
  • Levees
  • Airport runway/taxiway
  • Foundations for lightweight structures
  • Special Applications
  • Noise and vibration damping
  • Compression application
  • Seismic application
  • Rockfall/impact protection
  • Permafrost embankments

Plasti-Fab has been manufacturing geofoam for over 50 years. Here are just a few projects that benefited from using geofoam as their solution.

Manitoba middle school relies on GeoVoid® compressible fill material for soil stabilization
Plasti-Fab GeoSpec®saves unstable slope along South Saskatchewan River
Plasti-Fab® GeoSpec® lightweight fill material simplifies Ontario bridge construction
Plasti-Fab® GeoSpec® lightweight fill material speeds construction of new elementary school

The Power of Geofoam – A case study on the use of Plasti-Fab GeoFoam for Soil Stabilization

Check out the video or read the transcript below to learn how Geofoam EPS was an integral soil stabilization solution for an Elementary school.

In 2000, the elementary school in isolated Attawapiskat first Nations communities of northern Ontario was closed due to unsafe conditions. despite numerous promises to build a new school it took over a decade before funding is finally authorized. ground was finally broken on the new 19,056 ft.² Attawapiskat elementary school April 2012.

Built to provide a safe and permanent new school for over 500 students will also serve as a community facility and flooded evacuation point in the surrounding area. To facilitate this, design team at PB architects was required to elevate the school roughly 8 feet above the unstable soil conditions of the floodplain.

However the short construction deadline meant it wouldn’t be enough time for the soil to settle, so the architects turned to Plasti-Fab geospan expanded polystyrene EPS Geofoam as the structural lightweight solution.

Geospec reduces the load on underlying soils which would minimize the amount of settlement and stabilizing needed for the schools built up foundation.

It is 20 to 30 times lighter than other alternatives, a critical factor because of the distance the materials needed to be transported by barge.

Taking out approximately a foot of soil they added gravel and sand, and added about 4 feet of Geospec. More sand and gravel and finished it with a concrete slab.

The ease of installation accompanied without the use of heaven earth handling equipment sped up the extremely tight construction schedule and was an integral part of the fast and solid construction of the Attawapiskat First Nation school.

To learn more about Geofoam and it’s applications, visit Geofoam Solutions on

Indiana Department of Transportation chooses Plasti-Fab® EPS Geofoam for road improvements in LaPorte

Special Project Feature

Using Plasti-Fab geofoam, crews worked quickly to complete the road improvements.

Dramatic weather conditions experienced by much of the midwest region affect not only travel, but the integrity of the roadways themselves. This was the case for a stretch of highway near LaPorte, Indiana.

Instead of the annual road construction projects that are common in that area, the Indiana DOT decided to bring on a team of people to proactively rework the road with more than just dirt and concrete.

General Contractor Reith Reilly, paired with contractor Dyer Construction, Design Engineer American StructurePoint and Construction Engineer HW Lochner decided to take a different route for their SR 14 roadwork project.
The project team turned to Plasti-Fab, an EPS manufacturer of geofoam solutions to provide the specified product for the job. Working with the project engineers, Plasti-Fab designed the GeoSpec® EPS 22 to meet the needs of the road and soil conditions.

The first shipment of Plasti-Fab GeoSpec® arrived on the job site on August 14, and by August 24th, a mere 10 days later, 3,778 cubic yards of geofoam was installed and the project completed. GeoSpec® lightweight fill material is expanded polystyrene (EPS) geofoam used in ground fill applications where a lightweight fill material is required. EPS geofoam has been used in projects involving a wide variety of applications worldwide for over 50 years.

Learn more about Plasti-Fab’s geofoam solutions at

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

Plasti-Fab_WTagline_surveyThis month at Plasti-Fab we will be featuring Geofoam, a product that has a wide array of applications, and not just below grade. In today’s blog we will show you how our GeoSpec® product was used on a roof to create a whole new green space in the City of Calgary.

When the city-owned roof covering a portion of a local fire hall and hotel began to leak, the task of repairing the 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 

Project Highlights of PlastiSpan EPS used in EIFS Applications

This month we have covered what is EIFS and the technical ins and outs of the PlastiSpan insulation used in the component system for added quality and energy efficiency.

Let’s have some fun and end our month with a showcase of projects that used PlastiSpan for their EIFS applications. Maybe you are familiar with some of these well-known businesses…

In addition to the above noted projects, Plasti-Fab has been a part of many award winning EIFS projects noted below.

We hope you have enjoyed our series on Exterior Insulating Finish Systems and our role in the components that make it a growing choice for many commercial buildings.

To learn more or to contact Plasti-Fab about your next EIFS project, visit:

PlastiSpan Insulation: A Key Component in EIFS

Last week we talked about what Exterior Insulating Finish System are, and how they can be used in multiple types of construction methods. Today we are going to cover a key component of the system itself: the insulation.

EIFS provides many advantages that other exterior finishes and sidings do not.  Foremost is the superior energy efficiency and great design flexibility.  In fact, studies have shown that EIFS can reduce the air infiltration in a wall by as much as 55%, when compared to standard brick or wood construction. One should bear in mind that an EIFS system is a non-structural component of the wall.  In other words, it is not designed to be weight bearing.

However, let’s concentrate on the Insulation component of an EIFS system, which is provided by the PLASTISPAN EFS BOARD.

PlastiSpan EFS board is a moulded expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation board manufactured under a stringent quality control program that includes third party certification of material properties. Period styles or clean modern shapes can be produced for building facades by forming PlastiSpan EFS insulation into special shapes. Since PlastiSpan EFS insulation is lightweight, special features can be created without any additional structural load on the building.

Here you can see PlastiSpan EFS being used as a system component for the exterior finish of Sunridge Tire, in Calgary, Alberta.

EIFS manufacturers use PlastiSpan EFS insulation because it is flexible, resilient and permits some thermal expansion / contraction of the applied finish or building movement without cracking the exterior finish.

So what makes PlastiSpan EFS a good choice for EIFS? Our dedication to the quality of the product, the heat aging rooms in our facilities, and the high quality standards in manufacturing provide a high-quality end product EIFS manufacturers feel confident in using. For some additional technical information about the product, check out our resources below:

PlastiSpan EFS insulation does not rot or decay. In addition, PlastiSpan EFS insulation does not support the growth of fungi or bacterial growth. However it is important to remember that successful use of PlastiSpan EFS insulation, as with any product, depends upon its correct installation in accordance with good design practices. Always follow Exterior Insulation Finish Systems manufacturer’s instructions for the application of the PlastiSpan EFS insulation and adhesives.

You can learn more about PlastiSpan EPS for Exterior Insulation Finish System at