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

November 21, 2016

Plasti-Fab_WTagline_surveyNovember 21, 2016 | Calgary, 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 

Designing with Insulspan SIPs

November 14, 2016

Written by guest writer Keith Nelson, Insulspan Designer

Why Design with Insulspan SIPS?  A panel is a panel is a panel, right?

I believe in helping people, giving the best possible effort, and doing right by others. I believe that the “pictures” I draw are more than lines on a screen or a page. I believe that they are a person’s dreams, realized.   My name is Keith Nelson and I design SIPs at the Insulspan plant in Blissfield, MI.

Insulspan SIPs for Walls and Roof

Insulspan SIPs for Walls and Roof

Being entrusted with someone’s dream is an awesome and daunting responsibility, with equal parts trust, excitement and trepidation.  Architects have the visionary work; designers translate their concepts into reality. Mechanics and metrics, software and load paths are all part of that translation, but those things are just the tools that I use to actualize their dreams.    The purpose behind those tools is improving the quality of life that the homeowner will enjoy, the pleasure they’ll take everyday living in their dream. I endeavor to give each of them the most energy efficient, cost effective version of that dream.

After receiving the plans from the customer, I recreate their two dimensional information in a 3D model using HSB Cad.  HSB is cutting edge software that integrates with AutoCAD Architecture.  Starting at the top, I work my way down through the structure, I trace the loads imposed on the panel, transferring them out and down to the foundation. Each door and window, opening and exterior wall is digitally recreated.  Every SIP and piece of lumber in the project is then modeled from that data for maximum efficiency and minimal waste.  Panels are maximized in size, thermal breaks are minimized, the design tweaked to provide the best performance possible within the given structural requirements.  That care and attention to detail will have direct impact on every utility bill the customer receives.

Insulspan panels are consciously designed for the people who will use them, for their comfort and enjoyment, for their future and the actualization of their dreams.

What I do everyday makes a difference in people’s lives; not just in their energy savings, but in their level of comfort, and in their sense of home. I maintain that an Insulspan panel isn’t like any other you can purchase, by design.

Visit for more on panel design and options.

Make Yourself Comfortable with EPS Insulation from Plasti-Fab

November 1, 2016

Plasti-Fabfamily-timeIn the insulation industry we talk a lot about comfort and ways that you can have a more comfortable home by using our products as energy efficient solutions. What does comfort really mean? Not so much to us, but to YOU. What defines YOUR comfort?


For some, it is a warm home where you and your family can relax. For others, it’s a healthy home, where you don’t have to worry about harmful air pollutants. Or maybe it’s the safety of your home; trusting that the structure you have built is secure and strong against man AND nature. Whatever defines comfort for you, make it a priority, and find the insulation solutions that will help you achieve your comfort goals.

There are many EPS insulation products available that will help you reach your goals for your home, but knowing the right one for you may be a daunting task. While Plasti-Fab has a whole line of varying insulation options that are solutions to many applications, our strongest contribution is the service we give and the expertise we employ to help you find your right solution.

So whether your comfort stems from knowing your home is wrapped in a layer of insulation that keeps the cold out and the heat in (PlastiSpan & DuroFoam Insulations), or you breathe easier knowing dangerous gases are being trapped and removed before they can enter your home (Radon Guard™ Insulation), or if you simply want to know your family is protected from the elements outside (Insulspan SIPS, Advantage ICFS), give us a call…we can help.

Visit for more information on using EPS Insulation or any of our building systems in your project.

Fight the Cold – Insulate your home with Plasti-Fab’s Exterior Sheathing Insulation

October 25, 2016

written by Melissa Carruthers
Follow her on twitter: @MelissaC_PFB

It’s October and cold weather is just around the corner!  We are all trying to find the best way to keep our heat in and the cold out! So  let’s talk exterior sheathing. 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.

So how do we fix this? Well, this is where PlastiSpan insulation saves the day. It is more cost effective and time effective to increase your R-Value above grade by going 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.

Let’s get down to work.  By adding PlastiSpan, PlastiSpan HD or DuroFoam insulation to your home we will increase your energy efficiency and decrease your costs.

*All insulation will be called PlastiSpan from here on, but any of the 3 is the right insulation solution for this application.

A little overview of the 3 types so you can chose the best for your application

  • PlastiSpan has the lowest cost/R-Value for rigid insulation
  • PlastiSpan HD is also a more cost effective product than other rigid insulations. It gives you a slightly higher R-Value and compressive strength than PlastiSpan too.
  • DuroFoam is an ideal product for sheathing because it has been laminated on both sides, one with a green film and one with a silver one

The reflective facer on DuroFoam insulation contains a thin layer of foil embedded within the film. The reflective facer does not increase the nominal R-value of DuroFoam insulation. The green face of DuroFoam insulation should be left exposed to make use of the markings on this face provided for easy cutting of insulation and spacing of interior framing as required.

After you have chosen which type of PlastiSpan insulation you are going to use and have removed all your existing siding, you need to plan out the joints. Apply one of the PlastiSpan insulation products over the exterior of the wood framing. All vertical edges of the PlastiSpan insulation need to be butted tightly together over stud locations for adequate support.

Make sure you are using the correct fasteners. PlastiSpan Insulation must be fastened to framing using fasteners with heads or washers at least ½” diameter where the cladding will be applied directly against the insulation. Fasteners with heads or washers at least 1″ in diameter must be used where an air space will exist between the PlastiSpan insulation and the cladding. (The fasteners are usually a nail with a green washer around it).

A sheathing membrane is not required if all joints between the PlastiSpan insulation and all openings in the wall are taped using a sheathing tape to seal them. Installing exterior cladding; cladding must be attached to the wood framing members so they need to be long enough to penetrate through the PlastiSpan insulation and at least 1″ into the wood framing.

This should finish off the exterior of your home. New doors, new windows and by using PlastiSpan insulation under your sheathing, it will make a huge difference on your energy bills every month, plus increase the comfort inside your home. It’s a win-win situation, and who can resist a win-win?

Visit for more information on exterior sheathing.

Candy Cake… Just in Time for Trick or Treat

October 20, 2016
Extra decoration makes it even more appealing

Extra decoration makes it even more appealing

Our author wrote this blog with the focus on wedding cakes; however with Halloween right around the corner, it seemed like a great idea to use for trick-or-treaters as well. If you want to hand out candy this year, and are looking for something more creative than candy in a bowl, the cake idea below is a great way to display candy for your visitors too!

Written by Melissa Carruthers

So for the last 10 years I have been making cakes for friends and family. Four tier wedding cakes, bear cakes, Thomas the train cakes and anything else I could think of. Last year I was the Maid of Honor in a wedding in Halifax. Living in Calgary made the possibility of making the wedding cake impossible so I had to come up with another idea. I thought about a Plasti-Span Grooms cake. I know the groom is a huge candy fan and the wedding colors were orange and white. So why not take PlastiSpan EPS and create the cake.

I had 4 tiers made in circles ranging from 14” in diameter to 4”. I painted them all orange, (This process took 3 coats of paint and my desk and hands were orange… but it was worth it!) Make sure you use acrylic paint and use a foam brush. It saves time.

After the cake was painted I shopped for candy… Specifically orange candy.  (Except for the baseball chew because they are a favorite). I didn’t know how difficult shopping for orange candy only would be, but it was a task all in itself!

So with the “Cake” made, I was off to Halifax.  When I arrived 8 plus hours of flying later, my luggage did not.  So somewhere in Canada was my Bridesmaid dress and this 4 tier candy wedding cake. I could not have been more thankful that the cake was durable, made of foam, and would assemble easily when I put it together. Finally everything arrived and the bride to be and I put it together. It was a great way to keep her calm the day before the wedding.

Step by Step…

  1. I pre-painted all the tiers so we wouldn’t need to do this in a hotel room
  2. We glued all the tiers together making sure each one was mostly dry before we attached the next one so they didn’t move around. (here is where we made a first timer mistake. We should have made the holes for the lollipops first instead of putting them in last)
  3. Starting with the largest candy we mapped out a plan. We knew how much and what candy was needed for each level.
  4. Now we started pinning all the candy to the bottom tier, then slowly to the top. We made sure we had extra candy just in case we ran out or got hungry while we were building it.
  5. Now for the lollipops. We stuck them in the top of the cake and voila it was complete.


Needless to say, even with delays, and luggage problems, both the bride and groom were in love with it and the Groom was shocked to see it.

Again a few things to take into consideration:

  1. Have lots of white craft glue to stick the tiers together
  2. Make sure the candy you buy can be molded around the cake (some candy didn’t get used because it wouldn’t curve)
  3. Bring lots of pins, some candy took 4 to hold in place
  4. Have a bowl beside the cake when you serve it (if you let people eat it). This way there is something for them to put the pins in
  5. Take lots of pictures
  6. Put the holes in the top tier first if you are using lollipops


South Carolina homeowner creates hurricane-resistant home with Advantage ICF System®

October 7, 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

Insulspan® R-PLUS SIP System for Higher R-value SIPS

October 3, 2016

Insulspan SIPS SIPS are cool. Where else can you get an entire insulated wall or roof system that just drops into place like a puzzle, and by the time you are done you have an entire thermal envelope ready for finishes? As great as they are, ease of installation, pre-cut and ready to install when they arrive on site, etc. R-value is always a point of discussion.

The Insulspan SIP System consists of 2 layers of 7/16” structural-grade OSB, laminated to an EPS core, creating a solid, one-piece, pre-cut SIP that is ready to be installed as a wall, floor or roof component in many residential and commercial building applications. A standard EPS core has an R-value of 3.9 per inch. The thicker the panel; the higher the R-value. It’s simple math. However, now with the help of BASF, Plasti-Fab (EPS manufacturer of Insulspan’s EPS core material) has developed a new product with a higher R-value called EnerSpan. This core material uses graphite Polystyrene called NEOPOR®, creating a higher R-value product.


panel-cutaway-for-insulspan-r-plusThrough the use of the NEOPOR core known as EnerSpan, we have developed the Insulspan R-Plus product line. The Insulspan® R-Plus SIP (Structural Insulating Panel) System is an energy efficient building system consisting of an EnerSpan® insulation core with oriented strand board (OSB) structurally laminated to the interior and exterior faces. The core of the SIP known as EnerSpan insulation, is an expanded polystyrene (EPS) insulation with a silver-grey color manufactured using Neopor® F5300 Plus provided by BASF. Neopor F5300 Plus is a graphite-enhanced expandable polystyrene raw material that reduces radiation heat transfer resulting in EPS insulation with a higher R-value/RSI-value compared to standard white EPS insulation.

The combined higher overall R-value/RSI-value and lower air leakage characteristic for building assemblies built with the Insulspan SIP System results in significant long-term energy cost savings versus other construction methods such as wood frame construction. With the addition of the NEOPOR in the EPS core, it provides a higher R-value of 4.7 per inch.

Below are the standard panel thicknesses we manufacture with their NEOPOR R-values:

4 1/2″ NEOPOR SIP = R-value of 21.2
6 1/2″ NEOPOR SIP = R-value of 30.6
8 1/4″ NEOPOR SIP = R-value of 38.7
10 1/4″ NEOPOR SIP = R-value of 48.2
12 1/4″ NEOPOR SIP = R-value of 57.6


For more information on Insulspan R-Plus, visit