What Are Insulation Boards?

Carol Francois
Carol Francois

Insulation boards are a type of insulation used in homes. The insulation is man-made and formed into boards for easy transportation and insulation. Insulation boards are cut to fit the space for which they are intended, and may required additional time for uneven spaces.

There are six different types of insulation board available, and each of them have different strengths and weaknesses. The different types of board insulation are glass fiber,expanded polystyrene, extruded polystyrene, phenolic foam, polyurethane and polyisocyanurate.

All insulation boards are created using glass fiber or foam plastics. These materials are selected based on their insulating values. Since these materials are chemically based, they tend to cost more than loose-fill or batt insulation.

These boards are manufactured with a moisture and fire resistant or decorative coating. Some manufactures sell pre-cut boards to match exact requirements. Others create boards with a unique attachment system to make installation easier.

There are two types of glass fiber insulation boards available; below grade and above grade. Both types are for external use. The above grade has a water repellent breather paper attached. The below grade has an insulating value of 0.029 RSI (insulation r-value).

Expanded polystyrene boards are made by pressing coarse beads into form boards. This type of insulation is often called bead board, due to the nature of the manufacturing process. There are two densities available, high density with a value of 0.028 RSI and low density with a value of 0.026 RSI.

High density boards are used in dry, sandy soil along the exterior of the foundation walls, as they are more moisture resistance. Due to the nature of the materials, they cannot be exposed to the sun, solvents or other chemicals. Make sure that these boards have a fire resistant covering.

Extruded polystinene boards are manufactured into boards made of small, closed cells with trapped air and fluorocarbons. These refrigerant gases increase the insulation value. These types of boards come in both a low density, with a insulation value of 0.033 RSI and a high density version, with an insulation value of 0.035 RSI.

Polyurethane and polyisocyanurate boards have the same basic design as extruded polystinene boards, but contain only fluorocarbons. These boards are manufactured with a foil coating and have an insulation value of 0.040 RSI. As with all man-made products, they must have a fire retardant coating or covering.

Phenolic foam insulation boards are only used in special installations where there is a requirement for low combustion insulation. The boards are made from phenol formaldehyde resin. This product absorbs water, and so a water repellent must be installed on both side for proper installation.

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Discussion Comments


@Markerrag -- True, and remember that people used to avoid using much insulation at all in walls. Imagine those heating bills, huh? Insulation boards help homeowners save money and are essential components in energy efficient homes.


The great thing about insulation boards is that they have saved a lot of construction time. Just imagine the fun of trying to spray regular insulation in walls and such. We know that insulation is necessary for keeping expenses down, so having boards that can be hung vertically helps tremendously with insulating walls. Also, the fact it can be cut to fit is even more of a bonus.

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