Introduction to Styrofoam SM Insulation

Styrofoam SM insulation has been used in commercial buildings for many years. This is mostly because of its high R-value (RSI) and its ability to resist water absorption. High resistance to water absorption is a crucial property in the commercial grade foundation applications. Styrofoam insulation offers this. It will prevent foundation damp proofing as well as serve as a reliable waterproofing agent. It is mostly used in backfilling due to its unique properties.

You should also note that this insulation can be used as a secondary barrier to prevent groundwater leakage. It significantly prevents foundation cracking by adding a thermal mass of the building as well as reducing condensation. The insulation material is used in above grade and below grade commercial applications. It comes in various sizes to meet different application demands.

Fire safety

One of the main concerns in the choice of insulation material for commercial and residential building is fire safety. Insulation materials such as cellulose that are made using recycled newspapers are a major fire hazard. Styrofoam is also combustible. After installation, the material has to be protected from high heat sources.

In some areas, the local building codes mandate that a thermal barrier be installed with Styrofoam insulation. This is done to improve fire safety. If you are thinking of using Styrofoam, you have to talk to your contractor about fire protection and the local building codes.


The ease of installation is what makes Styrofoam popular. It comes in the form of boards that are then cut by the contractor during installation to fit the target area. Some boards have shiplap edges. This is done to reduce wastage and make cutting fast and easy.

When installing Styrofoam, it is recommended to use an adhesive that is polystyrene compatible. The adhesive holds the boards while you are backfilling. It is also recommended to apply caulk while installing Styrofoam insulation. The purpose of mastic or caulk is to seal spaces through which water infiltration can take place.

Still on installation, it is paramount that all masonry errors be removed from the building’s foundation. The below grade walls which are susceptible to moisture damage have to be protected adequately before installing Styrofoam. Installation must also be done with care to guarantee the materials don’t lose their insulating power. Proper installation is also what leads to lasting results.

All in all, even though installing Styrofoam insulation is pretty straightforward, it is important that you get an expert to do the job. The installation must always be done by technical personnel that have the experience, training and the right equipment and tools to do the job right. You also have to bear in mind that there are strict building codes that need to be followed when working with Styrofoam insulation. The boards also come in various sheet sizes so you need to select the one that suits your application best. Needless to say, it is only with the help of a qualified contractor that you will complete the project properly and up to code.

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