Expanded Polystyrene Insulation and Filling

Expanded polystyrene is a multi-purpose material that has become so common that most people don’t even realize how important it is to their daily lives. What adds to the confusion is that there is no uniform name for products made from it – often it is simply shortened to EPS, but terms like Geofoam are also used. You may know it as styrofoam. 

It comes in two primary forms – as solid plastic and polystyrene foam. Its plastic form is used to manufacture a multitude of consumer products, but polystyrene foam has been the catalyst for modernizing construction work. EPS is the basic building block of many construction projects, both as void filling and thermal insulation. Let’s discuss some of its features and common uses.

Expanded Polystyrene Features 

The three main features that make EPS so valued for building projects are its insulating property, low weight, and high compressive strength. Expanded polystyrene is very easy to transport and shape, so no complicated machinery or logistics are necessary for its application. It is also recyclable, making it an eco-friendly construction material.

The Go-To for Insulation and Filling 

Many architects, engineers, and contractors see expanded polystyrene as their go-to material for the projects they are working on. The insulating properties and compressive strength, combined with its low weight and ease of use, make EPS the most cost-effective construction material you are likely to find. By using it, you are not only saving money, but also adding to the security of your buildings and protecting the environment.

EPS Insulation

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An EPS foam board is made up of around 95% air, which makes it one of the best insulators available. EPS boards can be placed on the interior or exterior of buildings, significantly reducing the energy consumption for heating or cooling, consequently lowering the costs. EPS is cheap to produce, making it one of the most cost-effective thermal insulators on the market.


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One of the most common uses of EPS boards is as wall insulation. They have more or less the same effect when they are placed on the exterior or interior of walls. Expanded polystyrene insulation is extremely easy to form to the desired shape, allowing it to cover both large wall areas and fill small cavities.


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Similarly to walls, EPS is used as roof insulation. Because its effectiveness doesn’t diminish over time, EPS is considered permanent insulation. The thickness of EPS boards varies, so different thermal insulation levels can be achieved for separate insulation purposes.


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When expanded polystyrene is used as void filling, it all starts with large blocks, made from molded polystyrene beads. The blocks are then cut into different shapes suitable for different construction needs and consequently have individual names – Geofoam, voids, insert blocks, etc.

Geofoam is the most commonly used product made from expanded polystyrene. It is a customizable filling solution that is used to support any and all types of roads – from highways to bridges – and building foundations. As it has very high thermal insulation properties, it can also be used for insulating buildings.


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Geofoam is lightweight and easy to shape but has high compressive strength, which makes it the ideal substitute for concrete or unsuitable soil. The manufacturer can shape it during production, or the workers can cut it on-site. The placement of expanded polystyrene doesn’t require heavy machinery, as it can be carried and placed by hand.

Unlike other fillers, the composition of Geofoam is predictable, enabling engineers to be specific in their designs. Moreover, it is chemically inert, so it will not break down and pollute the surrounding soil.

It is naturally buoyant and hydrophobic, allowing it to be used for flotation structures. With the added pricing of Geofoam, it is one of the most cost-effective solutions for large construction projects, with lots of structural advantages.


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Expanded polystyrene significantly lowers construction costs based on volume, so it is often used as a filling solution instead of concrete. However, that is not the only reason EPS is used as filling material – it reduces the load on the underlying soil, minimizing settlement on the utilities beneath it.

Due to its flexibility in design, EPS is used as formworks for many difficult designs. This can vary from arches to domes to round columns or even curved walls. EPS can be cut precisely using 3D CNC machines while at the same time being strong enough to withhold any concrete pressure required.


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While expanded polystyrene is often used as a permanent filling solution, it can also be used to form void spaces for pipes or cables. As it is easy to cut into the preferred shapes and remove later, many megastructures, like bridges and highways, use it to form voids necessary in their construction.


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Floors are often raised by using Geofoam. Because of its low weight, it doesn’t put pressure on any underlying structure and its compressive strength enables it to carry much structural weight. While insulation is not the primary goal in such cases, its nature allows it to be an added layer of insulation for residential or communal buildings.