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:

Why use EIFS with PlastiSpan Insulation in your Next Project?

PLastiSpan used in EIFSEnergy-Efficiency
The growing popularity of EIFS is due to the fact that few if any, competitive materials offer such a wide range of desirable product benefits. Chief among these are superior energy efficiency and virtually unlimited design flexibility. PlastiSpan EPS insulation used in EIFS assemblies provides long-term thermal resistance, meaning the R-value that is installed will remain for the life of the product.

Not only is energy-efficiency a benefit of EIFS applications due to the continuous insulation application on the exterior of buildings, but the durability of the product is an added benefit as well.

Durability & Versatility
Unlike wood, stucco and other siding materials, EIFS rarely needs painting. Most EIFS systems are specially formulated with 100% acrylic binder, which gives EIFS superior resistance to fading, chalking, and yellowing. As a result, the systems tend to maintain their original appearance over time. And since the color is integral to the finish coat, even if the surface is scratched, the same color appears beneath the abrasion.

EIFS also have excellent resistance to dirt, mildew, and mold, which helps keep the building exterior looking clean and freshly painted. PlastiSpan EPS insulation does not support the growth of mould, nor does it provide any food value to insects or vermin. Should the surface ever become soiled, it can usually be cleaned by hosing it down.

The systems are designed to be very flexible, which makes them highly crack resistant. When walls expand or contract due to rising or falling temperatures, EIFS are resilient enough to “absorb” building movement and thus avoid the unsightly cracking problems that are so common with stucco, concrete and brick exteriors.

Flexibility of Design
Not only do EIFS come in virtually limitless colors and a wide variety of textures, but they also can be fashioned into virtually any shape or design. At Plasti-Fab, we manufacture our EPS insulation to any shape, contour, thickness, etc. to meet the aesthetic design for your project.

Moisture Control
EIFS are among the most water-resistant exterior surfaces you can put on a house. But as with all claddings, EIFS must be correctly installed and properly detailed if they are to perform properly. Otherwise, moisture can get behind the systems and cause damage, just as it can with wood siding, brick or any other exterior.
Water intrusion is seldom a problem in commercial structures with EIFS. Water intrusion damage to homes is uncommon, but when it does occur, the moisture typically affects only small areas that can be easily and inexpensively repaired.

In addition to PlastiSpan EPS insulation, Plasti-Fab also manufactures EnerSpan insulation using NEOPOR graphite bead to provide an enhanced R-value insulation for use in EIFS systems. With multiple product offerings in a range of thicknesses, R-values, and shaping abilities, we are here to make your next project a success.

Learn more about our product offerings for Exterior Insulating Finish Systems at

The benefits of using PlastiSpan Insulation as a component in EIFS

EIFS is an insulating, decorative and protective finish system for exterior walls that can be installed on any type of construction. It is the only exterior wall covering that insulates and provides weather protection in a selection of shapes, colors, and textures that can replicate almost any architectural style or finish material, or stand by itself as an architectural finish.

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.

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.

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 the 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.

For more information about Plasti-Fab’s EIFS for commercial construction visit

Hiding in Plain Sight – A Look at Exterior Insulating Finish Systems (EIFS)

Have you noticed that the exterior finishes on buildings can range from sleek and modern to ornate and detailed? The varying degree of exterior finishes is commonly achieved through the use of a system called EIFS. EIFS is a general class of non-load bearing building cladding systems that provides exterior walls with an insulated, water-resistant, finished surface in an integrated composite material system.

For many years, the stucco-like appearance of Exterior Insulating Finish Systems (EIFS) has given commercial buildings high curb appeal, broad design and color flexibility; low maintenance and durability; and increased energy efficiency.

This application is not just reserved for commercial construction however, as homeowners have come to like the clean finish and decorative flexibility EIFS provides.

The added decorative details for his home made possible with the EIFS system add a nice curb appeal.

EIFS is an insulating, decorative and protective finish system for exterior walls that can be installed on any type of construction. It is the only exterior wall covering that insulates and provides weather protection in a selection of shapes, colors, and textures that can replicate almost any architectural style or finish material, or stand by itself as an architectural finish.


The system typically consists of, from exterior to interior:

  • A colour finish coat of stucco, which can be any colour chosen by the end user.
  • A lathe mesh, applied for reinforcement strength as well as to bond the two coats of stucco.
  • A base coat of stucco, which is usually thicker than the finish coating for strength and durability
  • PlastiSpan Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) EFS Insulation, for energy efficiency. Available in various thicknesses to ensure proper thermal resistance or R-Value
  • Approved Adhesive ( consult your Exterior Insulation Finish System Manufacturer’s guidelines)
  • An approved sheathing board or substrate

A Brief History

EIFS was developed in Europe after World War II and was initially used to retrofit masonry walls. EIFS started to be used in North America in the 1960s, and became very popular in the mid- 1970s due to a surge in interest in high energy efficiency wall systems such as EIFS provides. 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.

EIFs Around You

With the popularity of Exterior Insulating Finish Systems ever-expanding, you may drive by buildings every day on your commute to work, or the very restaurant you a visiting for lunch may have the EIFS system. With it’s tried and true formula for providing energy efficiency (thanks largely to the PlastiSpan EPS insulation component in the system) with a polished finish, EIFS is a great solution for many building exteriors.

Check out this hotel, whose visual exterior details are due to the use of the Exterior Insulating Finish System and the flexibility the PlastiSpan EPS gives the finisher.

Beautifully intricate finish details give this hotel a classy and unique look.

Check back next week as we dig a little deeper into PlastiSpan Insulation as component in Exterior Insulating Finish System.

Completing a Residential Thermal Envelope with EPS Roofing Insulation

We have made it to the final stage of our thermal envelope series on energy efficient insulation solutions for residential construction. Fully insulating a home to provide the best thermal envelope adds a value that is counted not just in the dollars saved from energy bills each month. A well insulated home is comfortable, quiet, and secure, adding a peace of mind & value that cannot be measured in dollars.

So let’s get this thermal envelope wrapped up shall we? Before we begin, let’s take a brief look at the importance of proper roofing insulation and how much heat you could be losing through an un-insulated roof….

We are going to take a look at two different ways to finish off an energy efficient home with roofing insulation. The first is to apply EPS rigid foam to a conventionally framed roof. For this application we have different rigid solutions like PlastiSpan, DuroFoam, EnerSpan and DuroSPan GPS Insulation options. All are a closed cell-moisture resistant product that meets all building code requirements and maintain its R-value for the life of the product.

DuroFoam Insulation has a laminated film on both sides for a durable, quality product to use in roofing insulation.

An additional solution to your roofing insulation needs is to use our EnerSpan insulation. EnerSpan is also a rigid foam solution, that is non-laminated. Since it is made with NEOPOR from BASF, it provides a higher R-value per inch, allowing you to use a thinner sheet for your roof. EnerSpan provides an R-value of R4.7 per inch, meets all building code requirements, and is installed the same way as the DuroFoam or other insulation from Plasti-Fab noted above.

While the rigid foam solutions mentioned above can be used in both new construction and remodeling/retrofit projects, the next and also last energy efficient roofing product we will cover is used mainly in new construction as it is a building system.

The Insulspan SIP System, made with PlastiSpan EPS foam and laminated structural grade oriented strand board is another way to complete your thermal envelope. The Insulspan SIP roof assembly contains less dimensional lumber than standard stick framed construction. This SIP System provides higher R-values than the wood-framed counterparts as there are significantly fewer thermal bridges. (Thermal bridges = potential heat loss)

Insulspan SIP roof panels are available in a range of thicknesses usually between 8″, 10″ and 12″ thick. Need more R-value but not the thickness? Insulspan also offers an Insulspan R-Plus series that is made with the EnerSpan Insulation containing NEOPOR. Below are the R-values for comparison.

Insulspan SIP System: 8 1/4″=R29.2 | 10 1/4″=R36.8 | 12 1/4″=R44.4
Insulspan R-PLUS SIP System: 8 1/4″=R35.9| 10 1/4″=R45.3 | 12 1/4″=R54.

We now have an energy efficient, better built home to last for generations. It’s a home with value. A home with quality. A home you can be proud hand down to future generations, with the peace of mind that the building materials will provide unparalleled safety, security, and efficiency for years to come.

Thank you for taking this journey with us as we worked our way from the ground up, insulating a residential project for its most effect thermal envelope.

To learn more about Plasti-Fab’s promise of Quality, Service & Expertise, visit

Exterior Insulating Sheathing for an Effective Thermal Envelope

Welcome back to our series on insulating residential projects for an effective thermal envelope. 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.

Dramatic temperature fluctuations happen all over, whether you are experiencing cold snaps or heat waves, you want the interior of your home to be comfortable and the thermostat to stay where you put it! So how do you stop dreading that next energy bill? You guessed it – By having an effective thermal envelope around the exterior of your home. We have covered the below-grade applications, now we move on to exterior insulating sheathing for above-grade walls.

This is where Plasti-Fab’s EPS insulation solutions save the day. Whether you are building a new home or remodeling the one you have, EPS rigid insulation installed around the exterior of your above-grade walls helps you achieve that level of comfort and energy efficiency we all crave – at a cost your wallet can bear! PlastiSpan 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.

How do you go about making this happen? It’s easier than you think. So let’s get down to work. At Plasti-Fab, we manufacture a wide range of insulating solutions, so the question is what one is right for you?

First think about what you want to achieve with your insulation. Are you doing it yourself or is a builder going to install it for you? Regardless of the level of expertise, EPS rigid insulation is easy to find at local building stores, and even easier to cut and install, saving you time and money on both fronts.

Some options for you to consider as you embark on your thermal envelope journey include PlastiSpan insulation products that are faced (laminated films on both sides), un-faced, along with varying R-values per inch to help you achieve the desired efficiency.

  • PlastiSpan has the lowest cost/R-value for rigid insulation. As a Type 1 insulation product, it has R3.75 per inch and comes in both 4×8 and 2×8 sheet sizes.
  • PlastiSpan HD is also a more cost effective product than other rigid insulations. It gives you a slightly higher R-value at 4.04 per inch.
  • EnerSpan is a Type 1 insulation product made with NEOPOR bead from BASF. This provides a 4.7 R-value per inch, giving you more efficiency with less thickness.
  • DuroFoam & DuroFoam Plus HD  are ideal products for sheathing as well because it has been laminated on both sides, making it durable and less susceptible to damage while giving you the same R-values as PlastiSpan insulations.
  • DuroSpan GPS insulation is a new product that Plasti-Fab introduced to the market in 2019. This product pairs the EnerSpan higher R-value graphite polystyrene with a laminated face on both sides to give you the best of both worlds. Available in R5, 7.5 and R10 options, DuroSpan GPS is easy and quick to install as well.

After you have selected which type of EPS 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. Next up is to finish it off by 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.

Need a quick refresher on installation of exterior insulating sheathing? Watch our DIY YouTube video for the 5 steps of installation.

At this point you have successfully completed nearly all of the insulation requirements for an effective thermal envelope. All that remains is proper roofing insulation – and stay tuned as we will cover that next week!

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Thermal Envelope Part 2: Insulating Interior Basement Walls & Floors with Plasti-Fab EPS

Last week we covered insulating under a basement slab and around the outside of your foundation, covering the different product types associated with that. Now some of you remodelers may have skipped that one, since you already have a basement floor and think, well that’s great, but I’m not ripping up concrete. We have good news for you. In today’s feature, we are going to cover the thermal envelope INSIDE your basement walls and ABOVE your basement floor. This can be done in both new construction and in remodeling projects with ease.

Why should you consider insulating your basement floors and interior walls? Not only will it provide you a greater level of comfort for your space, but help control energy costs for your entire home, and provide a great base for finishing materials.

According to the Building Science Corporation, “Basement walls should be insulated with non-water sensitive insulation that prevents interior air from contacting cold basement surfaces—the concrete structural elements and the rim joist framing. Allowing interior air (that is usually full of moisture, especially in the humid summer months) to touch cold surfaces will cause condensation and wetting, rather than the desired drying.” Our EPS insulation solutions resist moisture while maintaining their R-value for the life of the product.  That means the R-value you install, will be the R-value you maintain, reducing the energy costs and maintenance costs for your home.

The same concept applies to insulating above your basement floor. Let’s pretend for a minute, you were not able to insulate under the slab. Moisture and cold can seep through the concrete into the basement, making it damp, musty and generally uncomfortable. Plastispan insulation can be installed easily in just a few simply steps. Check out our DIY How-To Install basement floor insulation.

Insulating your basement walls can be accomplished in about the same amount of time, with limited steps as well. Both of these insulating solutions add value and energy efficiency to your home, fully completing the below-grade portion of your home’s thermal envelope.  Learn how to install insulation on your interior basement walls here.

There is a wide range of insulating products manufactured by Plasti-Fab to give you the choice in how you want your space to perform. When insulating the interior of a basement wall system, your selection will be based on the R-value performance instead of the compressive strength. PlastiSpan insulation ranges from R3.75 per inch to our EnerSpan line (made with NEOPOR) for a 4.7 per inch R-value. From there, you can select the thickness required to give you the desired R-value.  We also have laminated products that have a laminated film on both sides, to provide a more durable product with the same R-values. The same range of EPS insulating products can be used to insulate above the basement floor, providing a warmer, more comfortable space that saves on energy costs and reduces the potential for mold or insects inside your home.

With the completion of these 2 applications, you have effectively completed the below grade thermal envelope. Next week, we will cover above grade wall insulation; the next step in completing an energy-efficient home.

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