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What Is the Difference Between EPS and XPS Insulation?

by Terry
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EPS and XPS

Did you know that building compliance with construction safety regulations depends on the type of insulation? The energy efficiency of a building depends on the materials that create its insulation. Selecting insulation types such as eps insulation depends on the extent of insulation you want the building to have.

Using XPS or EPS insulation in construction buildings offers benefits such as excellent thermal conductivity, compatibility, flexibility, and compression strength. To determine the insulation material your facility requires, it is important to know the difference between EPS and XPS insulation.

Thermal Conductivity

Using durable insulation materials is a cost-effective and practical way to improve energy efficiency in your building. EPS and XPS provide good thermal conductivity. The air in the voids in the eps insulation conducts heat at a lower rate than XPS insulation. 

EPS requires a high-density board to conduct heat at the same rate as XPS insulation. The energy efficiency (R-value) of EPS does not reduce over time. Thermal conductivity is where some of the differences between EPS and XPS insulation lie.

Applications 

XPS insulation is a high-performance, closed-cell insulation suitable for demanding insulation purposes. The applications include insulation for floors, walls, underground structures, inverted roofs, waterproofing systems, and green roofs. 

XPS has a low shock absorption index, making it preferable for home insulation. Since it is highly resistant to mold, it is the perfect insulation for humid places, such as walls. It is lightweight and does not cause skin irritation when used as insulation in items like helmets.

Expanded polystyrene (EPS) has a high shock absorption index making it perfect for sports seats in racing cars and helmets. EPS is a light, rigid foam that is more suitable for air conditioning units and infant car seats. It is the insulating material for making chairs, load-bearing insulation panels, helmets, exhibition stands, food packaging, and book covers. 

Compression

XPS has more cell density due to a higher concentration of polystyrene than EPS insulation. Its higher density makes it a better option in terms of compressive strength. Due to its compressive strength, it is the insulating material in concrete floors, plazas, foundations, cold storage, and podium decks.

For EPS to have the same compressive strength as XPS, it requires more density. This process is not advisable as it results in a greater board thickness.

Manufacturing Techniques

The manufacturing process of Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) insulation is extrusive. The continuous extrusion creates a smooth-skinned closed cell structure on the manufacturing board’s top and bottom. This closed cell structure creates a layer that prevents water penetration into the insulation board.

Its water-resistant nature prevents moisture from damaging the layers it insulates. This characteristic allows it to provide more strength and long-term durability than EPS.

The manufacturing process of EPS insulation is via a two-stage process of intrusion. In the first stage, raw beads are under a high steam pressure from pre-puff beads. During the second stage, the pre-puff beads are exposed to high temperatures. 

The manufacturing process produces a closed cell structure and not closed cell insulation. EPS is white, but the material also comes in grey, while XPS comes in colors such as pink and blue. 

Expanded Polystyrene insulation (EPS) is easy to recycle since its manufacturing process involves one type of material, unlike XPS insulation. 

During the manufacturing process of EPS, air replaces the blowing agents, which are pentanes. The presence of air makes it free of HCFC, CFC, and HFC gases hazardous to your health and environment. After several weeks or months, air completely replaces the pentanes depending on the material’s thickness.

XPS has a lower air-to-polystyrene ratio, which does not make it suitable for use in places like food packaging.

Water Resistance

Expanded Polystyrene insulation (EPS) absorbs less moisture during a shorter period. It retains more water than XPS insulation. Due to its high-water retention, it is not used in places under constant exposure to moisture.

XPS is the insulating material for crawl spaces since it does not retain moisture. It is the most suitable insulation material for foundations, walls, and inverted roofs.

Working With EPS Insulation 

For contractors and construction companies that work with materials prone to moisture, XPS is the better insulator. If you require a lightweight and shock-absorbing insulator, eps insulation is a perfect choice.

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