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Thermal insulation in buildings is an   important factor to achieving thermal   comfort for its occupants. Insulation reduces unwanted heat loss or gain   and can decrease the energy demands of heating and cooling   systems. It does not necessarily deal with issues of adequate ventilation  and may or may not affect the level of sound   insulation. In a narrow sense insulation can just refer to the insulation materials employed to   slow heat loss, such as: cellulose, fiberglass,   rock wool,   polystyrene,   urethane   foam, vermiculite. But it can also involve a range of designs   and techniques to address the main modes of heat transfer - conduction,   radiation and convection materials.[1][2],   and earth or soil.

The effectiveness of insulation is commonly   evaluated by its R-value. However, an R-value does not take   into account the quality of construction or local environmental factors for   each building. Construction quality issues include inadequate vapour   barriers, and problems with draft-proofing. In addition, the construction   properties and density of the insulation material itself is critical. For   example, according to Leah Twings, Quality Compliance Manager of Textrafine   Insulation, fiberglass insulation materials made from short strands of glass   layered over each other is not as durable as insulation made from long   entangled strands of glass. 


The Different Types and Their   Advantages and Disadvantages 

 Fiber glass
Mineral Wool
Foam insulations
Other considerations regarding   insulation

Fiber   Glass
Fiber glass is a soft wool-like material that is usually pink or   yellow. It is used as insulation, in weatherproofing, and as textile  material. It was originally used as a "safe" substitute for asbestos.   Fiber glass was used as a liner inside air supply ducts and air handler   compartments of the ventilation system of homes and buildings  built from the early 1960s through the late 1980s. It was used in ventilation   systems as an insulator to prevent loss of hot or cold air and to reduce the   noise from the blower fan. Fiber glass liners inside ducts were a problem   because if it got wet it could become a breeding ground for microorganisms.

 There are a few more problems with fiber glass. One is there are some health   problems associated with it. For example, it can cause a skin allergy  and there is debate on whether or not fiber glass may cause cancer.   It may also trigger reactions in those people who are chemically sensitive since most fiber glass insulation is produced using a   phenol formaldehyde binder to hold the fibers together. These binder   materials may release offending amine or "dear-fish" odors  in high humidity situations.

 Another thing that should be considered when choosing insulation are the   ingredients that go into it. The largest fiber glass insulation manufacturers   all use at least 20 percent recycled glass in their insulation products   to comply with the US Environmental   Protection Agency (EPA)   recycled-content guidelines. One of the raw materials that is used to make   fiber glass more flexible and fire retardant is boron. However, there are   only two large deposits of boron in the world: one in the southwest US   and one in Turkey. Since the total known US reserves of boron is just 200   years, other renewable alternatives should be considered.3

Mineral   Wool
While mineral wool was at one time the most common type of insulation, its   market share was largely lost to fiber glass in the 1960s and 1970s. In the   past few years, however, the product appears to have begun a comeback. There   are currently several manufacturers of mineral wool in the US and about eight   plants that produce it. "Mineral wool" actually refers to two   different materials: slag wool and rock wool. Slag wool is produced primarily   from iron ore blast furnace slag, an industrial waste product. Rock wool is   produced from natural rocks. Slag wool accounts for roughly 80   percent of the mineral wool industry, compared with 20 percent for   rock wool. Given the relative use of these two materials, mineral wool has,   on average, 75 percent post-industrial recycled content.

Cellulose is perhaps the best example of recycled material use in insulation.   Most cellulose insulation is approximately 80 percent post-consumer   recycled newspaper by weight; the rest is comprised of fire retardant   chemicals and, in some products, acrylic binders. The biggest long-term   performance concern with cellulose insulation is possible loss of   fire-retardant chemicals. Because borates are water soluble, they can leach   out if the insulation gets wet.

This type of insulation uses cotton and polyester mill scraps with plastic   fiber added for three-dimensional loft and borates added for pest and   combustion resistance. This insulation costs about 15 percent to 20   percent more than comparable fiber glass insulation.

Bales of straw have been used for exterior wall insulation. Of course,   precautions need to be taken to prevent insect infestation and well as moisture  intrusion.

Foam   Insulations
There are different types of foam insulation materials. These include: 

  • Polyisocyanurate 
  • Polyurethane
  • Polystyrene 

Styrene, like that used in   polystyrene insulation, can cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and   respiratory system; headache, fatigue, dizziness, confusion, malaise (vague   feeling of discomfort), drowsiness, weakness, unsteady gait; possible liver   injury; and reproductive effects. Many foam insulations use recycled plastic  resin such as that found in some extruded and expanded polystyrene (EPS). Of   the foam insulations, polystyrene is easier to recycle than polyisocyanurate   or polyurethane since it can easily be melted down and reformed into other   products. The simplest recycling involves crumbling the old EPS into small   pieces and re-molding them into usable shapes. Polystyrene used to be blown   with chlorofluorocarbons, or CFCs, that destroy the earth's protective ozone   layer. Now extruded polystyrene (XPS) uses hydrochloro-fluorocarbons (HCFCs)   that are not as dangerous but can still be detrimental to the earth's   protective ozone layer.

 EPS is the only common rigid foam board stock insulation made with neither   CFCs nor HCFCs. During manufacture, polystyrene beads are expanded with   pentane, which is a type of flammable gas. An advantage of board stock   insulation is that if it can be removed without breaking up, it can often be   reused.

 Two new types of foam insulations that do not use CFCs or HCFCs are: 

  • Icynene: Icynene is a foaming agent that uses a mixture of carbon dioxide and water. Though it does not have polyurethane's        HCFC-related environmental problems, it also has a lower insulation        rating (R-value). Like polyurethane, Icynene is foamed into wall        cavities, but the resultant open-cell foam is soft, not rigid. 
  • Air Krete: Air Krete™ is an inorganic foam produced from magnesium oxide (derived from sea water). It is foamed under pressure        with a microscopic cell generator and compressed air; no CFCs or HCFCs are used. 

Other Considerations Regarding Insulation

  • Some loose-fill fiber insulation will settle and get        displaced because of wind and rodent infestation. It is also possible        that, over many decades, dust and dirt accumulation could reduce the insulation rating (called the R-value) by either compressing the insulation or by        filling air pockets.
  • In some parts of the country, foam insulation        materials are prone to infestation of wood-boring insects, such as carpenter ants. Tunnels and nesting cavities will reduce thermal        performance and may affect the structure as well. 
  • Insulating materials should be durable so that they do not have to be replaced every few years, thus contributing to the solid waste problem.
  • Be sure that your home or building is well insulated to save energy. Reducing the energy use of a building is usually the single most important thing you can do to reduce the building's overall environmental impact.
  • If you are using an insulating material that has a lower R-value (insulation rating), increase the thickness of the  insulation.
  • Try to avoid foam insulation materials that contain HCFCs. Though HCFCs are less destructive to stratospheric ozone than CFCs, they are still damaging to the environment.
  • Try to choose insulation materials that have large amounts of recycled materials. For example, with cavity-fill insulation,  cellulose and mineral wool have higher recycled content than fiber  glass. Also, choose an insulation contractor who recycles scrap  insulation. 

Exterior Insulation and Finish Systems (EIFS) are a type of building product that   provides exterior walls with an insulated finished surface, and waterproofing   in an integrated composite material system.

The word "System" should be   singular, therefore the acronym EIFS is not plural. It is inaccurate to says   "EIFS are", which appears several times in this article.


Although often called "synthetic   stucco", EIFS is not stucco. Traditional stucco is often called Portland   Cement Plaster, and is a centuries-old non-insulating material.   Stucco consists of sand, Portland Cement, and water, and is a hard, dense,   thick, non-insulating material. EIFS is a lightweight synthetic wall cladding   that includes foam plastic insulation and thin synthetic coatings. There are   also specialty stuccos that use synthetic materials but no insulation,   and these are also not EIFS either. A common example is what is called   one-coat stucco, which is a thick, synthetic stucco applied in a   single layer (traditional stucco is applied in 3 layers). There is also an   EIFS-like product called a Direct-Applied Finish System (or DAFS),   which is essentially an EIFS but without the insulation, and has quite   different characteristics.

EIFS are proprietary systems of a   particular EIFS producer and consist of specific components. EIFS are not generic  products made from common separate materials. To function properly, EIFS   needs to be architecturally designed and installed as a system.


There are a number of versions of EIFS.  The most basic and   common EIFS is called a barrier EIFS  (also known as a traditional or conventional EIFS). Another   type is called an EIFS with Drainage,   which is a barrier EIFS to which a water drainage capability has been added.

 A basic EIFS includes only the insulation and EIFS materials (coatings, adhesives, etc.).  Other types o  resin such as that found in some extruded and expanded polystyrene (EPS). Of   the foam insulations, polystyrene is easier to recycle than polyisocyanurate   or polyurethane since it can easily be melted down and reformed into other   products. The simplest recycling involves crumbling the old EPS into small   pieces and re-molding them into usable shapes. Polystyrene used to be .   EIFS insulation comes in individual pieces, usually 2' x 4', in large bags.   The pieces are trimmed to fit the wall at the construction sitocarbons (HCFCs)   that are not as dangerous but can still be detrimental to the earth's   protective ozone layer.
does not include flashing or sealants as part of the   EIFS.

How   EIFS is used

EIFS can be used on a wide range of   buildings, including homes, apartments, condominiums, high-rise buildings,   offices, malls, shopping centers, hotels, motels, clinics, government   buildings, and so on. It can also be used to create facades and soffits on   shopping centers, and for decorative purposes (to look like stone, or to   create signage or artwork). EIFS is not a roofing  material.

EIFS can be used on new buildings and also   can be installed on existing walls, called "retrofitting", to   upgrade the appearance and provide insulation, without affecting the   activities indoors during the renovation (EIFS is installed completely from   the outside of the building).

EIFS has a number of features that   contribute to its popularity, including a modern seamless look (although   control joints are required at regular intervals to prevent splitting from   thermal expansion/contraction), the ability to mimic other materials,   reasonable cost, and high energy efficiency. EIFS looks like traditional   stucco or concrete, and is very common through North America.

The use of EIFS is regulated by the building   codes. However, since EIFS is a relatively new type of wall cladding, many   codes do not refer to EIFS by name. EIFS is generally regulated by Evaluation   Reports ("ER's") which are technical reports issued by code   agencies for a specific product. The ER's go into great detail about how a   specific EIFS product can be used. The primary source of ER's in the USA is   the Evaluation Services division of the International Code Council.

Known within the UK as "External Wall   Insulation Systems" or EWIS.

How   EIFS are installed

EIFS is attached to the outside face of   exterior walls with an adhesive (cementicious or acrylic based), it should   never be attached by using mechanical fasteners such as nails, screws, etc.   unless using on a foam shape sometimes called "popouts" or   "trim band". Mechanical fasteners can cause virtually unsealable   holes in the system, thus making it impossible to be water proof. The   supporting wall surface is continuous (not "open framing") and   flat, and can be a solid material, or some type of sheathing that is attached   to studs. The surface to which an EIFS is applied is called the substrate.   Common substrates include concrete, cinder block, brick, cement board   sheathing, Dens Glass Gold, USG Securock, exterior grade gypsum sheathing,   glass fiber-faced gypsum sheathing, oriented-strand board (OSB), and plywood.

EIFS is usually installed at the   construction site by hand by independent professional plastering contractors;   EIFS producers do not install EIFS products. EIFS is not a do-it-yourself   product - it is not sold through retail stores.

EIFS can also be made as panels. The panels   are made in a factory and have a lightweight welded metal subframe. When   completed they are trucked to the building site, raised with a crane, and   attached to the building frame.

Composition   and types of EIFS

EIFS consists of a number of layers that   are installed in the following order. The most basic EIFS (a barrier EIFS)   consists of 3 layers:

  • A layer of        foam plastic insulation (also called simply "foam") that comes        in the form of sheets 2' x 4'. If an adhesive is used to attach the        insulation, the adhesive is applied to the foam with a trowel. Most EIFS        use a type of insulation called Expanded Polystyrene,        also known as EPS. EPS is 1 lb. density Expanded Polystyrene, similar to        the white foam that coffee cups are made of. The usual range of        thickness for EIFS insulation is 3/4" to 4", although thicker        pieces are sometimes used for decoration accents - called foam shapes.
  • A        reinforced layer that is applied onto the face of the insulation with a        trowel, consisting of a fiberglass reinforcing mesh ( or        "mesh") embedded in a cementitous adhesive. The mesh has an        open weave, somewhat like window screening but with opening about        1/4" square. It is made of fiberglass and can be cut with a utility        knife. The mesh is available in various weights, the        "heaviness" determines the impact strength of the surface        (resistance to damage by being "hit"). The standard weight is        4oz, the high-impact mesh weight goes up to 15 or 20oz. This 2-part        layer is called the Base Coat.
  • A final        topcoat,or finish, which is a colored, textured paint-like material that        is applied with a trowel or, very rarely, by spraying. A wide range of        colors and textures are available as well as custom colors. Available        textures include smooth surfaces, rough "stucco-like" textures,        embedded stone chips, multi-color (granite-like mixtures,) and even        brick-like treatments. This layer is called the finish. It is acquired        by floating.

If an EIFS with Drainage, or water-managed   EIFS is installed, a water resistive barrier (aka a WRB) is first installed   over the substrate (generally DensGlas Gold, exterior-grade gypsum sheathing,   OSB or plywood).[citation needed]  The moisture barrier is applied to the entire wall surface with a mesh tape   over joints and a liquid-applied membrane or a protective wrap like Tyvek or   felt paper. Then a drainage cavity is created (usually by adding some sort of   space between the foam and the WRB). Then the other 3 layers, described   above, are added. This type of EIFS is required by many building codes areas   on wood frame construction, and is intended to provide a path for incidental   water that may get behind the EIFS with a safe route back to the outside. The   purpose is to preclude water from damaging the supporting wall.

Adhesives and Finishes are water-based, and   thus must be installed at temperatures well above freezing. Two types of   Adhesives are used with EIFS: those that contain Portland Cement   ("cementitious"), or do not have any Portland Cement   ("cementless"). Adhesives that contain Portland Cement harden by   the chemical reaction of the cement with water. Adhesives and Finishes that   are cementless harden by the evaporation of water - like house paint. Adhesives   come in two forms. The most common is in a plastic pail as a paste, to which   Portland Cement is added. Adhesives are also available as dry powders in   sacks, to which water is added. Finishes come in a plastic pail, ready to   use, like paint.   EIFS insulation comes in individual pieces, usually 2' x 4', in large bags.   The pieces are trimmed to fit the wall at the construction site.