Foam-Control Plus+: “The Right Choice”

By: Jim Nugent, Regional Sales Manager

It has been very exciting to see the continued growth in the use of EPS in a wide range of below-grade, underslab, and frost protected foundation applications. The growth of ACH Foam’s brand of architectural grade insulation, Foam-Control Plus+ has been particularly impressive. Foam-Control Plus+ highlights the EPS material types from ASTM C578 that range from 15 psi to 60 psi, or as we like to call it “architectural grade” EPS. Beyond the applications previously mentioned, Foam-Control Plus+ is also being used is plaza decks, green roofs, cavity walls, precast concrete cores, and more.

photo (2) photo 1 (7)For several years ACH Foam has been committed to educating the engineering and architectural design communities about the benefits of EPS rigid insulation and EPS Geofoam. In recent years our focus has been on below-grade and cavity wall applications where extruded polystyrene had long been the default specification. The primary reason XPS had been in so many specifications was the marketing of their ASTM water absorption data. In simple terms, the ASTM test used to evaluate water absorption of both XPS and EPS is a short term laboratory test intended for quality control guidelines for the manufacturers but in no way is indicative of the in-service performance of either material.

There is now a significant amount of data available to owners, architects, engineers and contractors that evaluates the performance of both EPS and XPS in below-grade applications. These evaluations are from real world projects, where EPS and XPS were installed on buildings for many years, then excavated and measured for water absorption, R-value retention, and permeability.  Permeability is the ability to shed moisture (or not shed moisture in the case of XPS) during drying conditions and is a critical physical property that is often overlooked.  All evaluations were done by third party testing laboratories.

This post does not allow me space to detail the results of each evaluation. You can certainly visit and review moisture bulletins 101,102,103,104, and 105 to review the findings. To summarize what you will learn from these moisture bulletins:

  1. When in service on buildings both EPS and XPS can absorb moisture beyond their ASTM data which will impact R-value; however, in many cases XPS absorbed significant amounts of moisture.
  2. EPS showed the ability to shed moisture during drying conditions while XPS did not as easily. Shedding moisture in drying conditions is a key factor to long term R value performance
  3. EPS out performed XPS in R-value retention when confronted with bulk moisture.

This eye opening data is the driving force behind the success of Foam-Control Plus+. Architects around the country are now specifying Foam-Control Plus+ where they had previously specified XPS. Contractors are also benefiting from the lower cost of Foam-Control Plus+, the handling advantages of installing larger pieces, and in some cases the ability to have custom sizes.

On a personal note this year I have been involved with a dozen Passive House projects where either Foam-Control Plus+ or EPS Geofoam was used in frost protected shallow foundations. (The similarities of these two materials is a topic for a future blog post.)
Passive House designers prefer the design flexibility and insulating properties of EPS for their super insulated shallow foundations. This is just one more example why Foam-Control Plus+ is the right choice for below grade and perimeter insulation.

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Advantages of EIFS in the Market

By:  John Myers, Sales Representative – Architectural Products

While the design community began to shy away from Exterior Insulation Finish Systems or EIFS a few years ago in favor of other cladding choices, EIFS manufacturers have done a great job responding to the market. As partners with these manufacturers, new opportunities exist to grow this segment of our market. EIFS is no longer the stucco or sand finish product of the 80s and 90s.

The options have grown to imitate brick, metal finishes, unlimited architectural details, and a wide variety of colorfast finishes. The design community now has a varied and interesting pallet from which to choose. This is one of the factors leading the resurgence of EIFS finishes. But beyond the pretty face, changes in energy codes have also bolstered the practicality and benefits of EIFS. The outboard continuous insulation requirements make EIFS a smart choice.

There are no fasteners in the system to penetrate the air/vapor barriers. The system allows for back drainage of any moisture that might find its way into the system. There are no sealant joints between different components of the cladding, greatly reducing the opportunity for moisture intrusion. In addition, the system can be designed to move the dew point to the outer edge, where moisture can escape to the exterior, preventing mold issues within the wall cavity. These designs contribute to the increase of WSG thickness and increased sales for each job. Four inch WSG is becoming more commonplace with the advanced EIFS systems. Finally, as to code NFPA 285—concerning fire resistance—many EIFS systems comply with NFPA 285, while other cladding systems have been slower to respond, as the costs and requirements can be restrictive.

Partnering with the Exterior Insulation Finish System industry will provide growth for ACH as the need for higher insulation values continues to grow, and the implementation of continuous outboard insulation drives the designers to consider the broad pallet of aesthetic choices modern EIFS brings to the market.

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Versatility of Film Faced EPS Insulation

By:  Doug Wehrwein, Sales Representative – Architectural Products

The ACH Foam Technologies line of film laminated EPS is called Polar.  There are two types of Polar products:  1. Polar-R® a 4 ft. x 8 ft. flat sheet of insulation and 2. Polar Fold® a 4 ft. x 50 ft. fan fold sheet of insulation.

The durable facers laminated on each side of the EPS insulation help to make these products easy to use, even in undesirable weather conditions.  Polar-R® and Polar Fold® wrap your home in continuous insulation which reduces air infiltration and gives you a lifetime of energy savings.  

Polar-R® & Polar Fold® Installation Tips:

Tape the seams of both products with Polar Tape to reduce air infiltration and ensure maximum performance of the insulation.  Also use a wall lever for residential siding applications to help provide a flat and level surface for new siding.

Polar Fold® for Roofing

Polar Fold® Roofing recovery board  is a favorite among designers and contractors for re-roofing applications.  The film facers of Polar Fold® are engineered to be compatible with single ply ballasted and mechanically attached roof systems without the use of additional slip sheets.

Polar-R® Below-Grade Insulation

Below-grade insulation; specifically, perimeter wall and underslab insulation is used in many places around the country to create a well-insulated foundation. Polar-R’s high R-Value and tough film facings make it an ideal below-grade insulation for preventing foundation heat loss.  Polar-R below-grade insulation is available in 4’ x 8’ sheets and comes in thicknesses of: ½”, ¾”, 1 ½”, 2”, 3” and 4”.

Polar Fold® Protection Board

Polar Fold® Protection Board protects a foundation from damage due to backfill and is critical to maintaining the effectiveness of either sheet membrane or liquid-applied waterproofing.  Polar Fold® is strong yet lightweight, making it the ideal protection board for below-grade applications.  The expanded polystyrene core of Polar Fold® is not affected by chemicals or moisture and it adds thermal protection.  Polar Fold® is available in 4 ft. x 50 ft. fan fold sheets in 3/8” and 1/2” thicknesses.  Higher R-Values can be achieved by specifying Polar-R which is available in greater thicknesses.

Polar-R® and Polar-Fold®, like all ACH Foam Technologies’ EPS products , are environmentally safe and contain no CFCs, HCFCs, HFCs or formaldehyde.

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What Carries You Through the Final Leg of International Shipping?

By: Joe Kurz, Packaging Specialist

freight-loaded-off-shipACH Foam Technologies has the ability to offer the best possible combination of quality protective packaging, service, and design capabilities required for transporting products safely.  Our capabilities in fabricated EPS, as well as shape molded EPS foam, allow us to customize a complete package that will carry a new product from inception through multi-facility production.

Recent changes in production of products that are transported from Asia to the US have resulted in opportunities to develop new packaging solutions.  Due to the rising cost of shipping an ocean container, many companies are choosing to have their products bulk loaded for international transport.  Once they arrive in the US, the containers are emptied and the packaging process is completed for shipment to its final destination.

Products such as flooring, portable heaters, fans, and counter-top appliances for big-box retailers are undergoing this type of shipping procedure, many of which, select EPS foam packaging to protect their goods because it’s an effective and economical solution for their particular challenge.  The state-of-the-art design capabilities and innovative techniques used at ACH Foam Technologies have propelled us to the top ranks as a protective packaging provider in recent years for these types of products.

If you face a similar shipping challenge, contact ACH Foam Technologies to learn how we can custom design a solution for you.

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Temperature Control FAQs

By: Chris Benson, Packaging Specialist

With the weather starting to heat up, I figured it would be a good time to answer commonly asked questions about temperature controlled shipments.

Q- What the heck is DuraTherm®?

A- DuraTherm® is ACH Foam’s brand of temperature controlled shippers. DuraTherm® is not only the shipper but also encompasses the whole package including the coolant (gel pack/brick, dry ice, etc.) and the science/knowledge/testing to get the temperature duration you need.

Q- How long will my product stay in cold?

A- This is not an easy answer as there are many variables to consider. We need to answer your question with more questions: What are you shipping? Where is it shipping from? Summer or winter or year round? How is it shipping? Duration of shipments? Min/Max temperature range of product? Min/Max amount or volume of product for the DuraTherm® container?

Q- Is your DuraTherm® product pre-qualified or validated?

A- Most would think these terms mean the same thing but they are different. Pre-Qualified shippers have had stringent testing completed and are not product specific. For example, if you use a DuraTherm® container and your product fits within the predetermined min/max load range, coupled with the appropriate refrigerant, it will last X amount of time. Validated shippers have had product specific testing done. Basically, one product/one pack-out tested to a set criteria for temperature and time.

Q- Who would do the design/temp testing?

A- ACH Foam Technologies proudly employs a top notch design department, and DuraTherm® testing lab in our ISO certified Fond du lac, WI facility.

Contact your local sales representative for more information and to get your temperature control needs solved with DuraTherm® insulated shipping containers.

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