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Rigid Polyurethane Foam



Heating and cooling costs amount to 50 to 70 percent of the energy used in the average American home, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. To help reduce these costs, maintain uniform temperature, and lower noise levels in homes and commercial properties, builders turn to rigid polyurethane and polyisocyanurate (polyiso) foam—one of today’s most effective insulation materials available for roof and wall insulation, insulated windows and doors and air barrier sealants.

Rigid polyurethane and polyiso products deliver a unique combination of properties, as described below.

Energy Efficiency

  • Polyurethane and polyiso foams have one of the highest insulating R-values per inch of all commercially available products today. With typical R-values in the range R 5.5 to 8 per inch, it is possible to have thinner walls and lower profile roofs while maximizing efficiency, increasing space utilization and reducing operating costs.

  • Increasing the thickness of polyiso roof insulation by 1” or more above the ASHRAE required thickness can significantly reduce your energy costs while providing a positive rate of return on the cost of installation.

  • Entry doors having a rigid polyurethane foam core help inhibit sound and add insulation value that further reduces heating and cooling energy needs.

  • Polyurethane foam sealants, applied on-site, expand to fill energy-wasting, air-infiltrating gaps around window frames, plumbing pipes, and electrical outlets.

  • “Reflective” plastic coverings over polyurethane foam-insulated roofs bounce sunlight and radiant heat away from a building, helping the structure stay cool and reducing energy use for air conditioning.

NIST Net Zero Energy Residential Tour

Join NIST Chief, Energy and Environment Division, Dr. Hunter Fanney as he takes viewers on a tour of the new Net Zero Energy Home just outside of the nation’s capital in Gaithersburg, MD. Watch the video above to see how polyiso exterior rigid board insulation and other plastics technologies are enabling our nation’s Net Zero Energy home.

High Performance

  • Rigid polyurethane and polyiso foams are made with a remarkably strong, yet lightweight, low-density structure that is both dimensionally stable and moisture-resistant with low vapor transmission. This special combination of properties allows manufacturers to design thermal insulating products that are self-supporting, can be combined with a wide range of substrates while requiring no additional adhesive, and—when combined with the proper materials—perform as external weather and moisture barriers.

  • High-performance polyurethane insulation can be spray applied to various substrates, or molded to special shapes in relatively large sizes. It can also be protected against UV degradation and re-coated to extend performance life.

  • Polyurethane and polyiso products, when properly installed, are not affected by oil-based waterproofing.

  • Both polyurethane and polyiso foams are widely used in the fabrication of steel faced building panels for various categories of commercial building construction. Applications range from cold storage warehouses used in the food and beverage industry to high-tech looking offices, medical buildings, airports and even manufacturing facilities. When bonded to metal skins, a composite building unit is formed with long spanning capabilities. The light in weight and high insulation value make these products ideal for renovating exteriors of older buildings because typically the existing building cladding can be left in place and the existing structure does not need to be reinforced.

Versatility

  • Polyiso laminate boardstock is one of the most popular insulations used in conventional roofs. For special exterior designs, foam core panels offer a wide variety of colors and profiles for walls and roofs, and reduced weight for easier handling and a lighter supporting structure.

  • Some rigid polyurethane foams can be applied on-site to seal gaps and cover irregular shapes. Such foams include spray, pour-in-place, and one-component foams.

  • Spray polyurethane foam forms a seamless layer of insulation, fills gaps and seams during application, and covers irregular shapes that are hard to insulate with rigid boards. This reduces drafts considerably while creating stiffer, quieter buildings.

  • For durability and stability, rigid polyurethane foam-cored entry doors and garage doors are available in finishes and styles to suit the client’s preferences.

  • Structural insulated panels (SIPS) have a foam core insulation with both an exterior and interior facing, and can be made part of the structure of a building. Facing materials include gypsum, engineered wood or natural wood products. These insulated panels, manufactured in a controlled environment, improve product quality, speed erection of buildings, and reduce the amount of wood necessary for the structural framing. The finished product can save not only time and energy, but can help save natural resources and the environment as well.

Thermal/Mechanical Performance

  • The qualities of rigid polyurethane and polyiso foam reduce energy transfer, resist moisture, maintain dimensional stability, remain airtight and often support a structural role. Polyurethane and polyiso foams also function in temperature extremes, do not deform or distort, and are not subject to damage by the moisture that may result from condensation. Polyiso is stable over a wide temperature range (-100°F to +250°F) and can be used as a component in hot- asphalt roofing systems.

  • The mechanical strength of these foams is remarkable because high compressive and shear strengths allow low-density insulating cores to be faced with relatively thin steel or aluminum, yet span long distances unsupported. For example, the foam can hold together many of the components in a refrigerator or hot-water heater while it continues to perform as thermal insulation. This unique combination of properties allows rigid polyurethane foams to be used in many diverse applications.

Environmental

  • The environmental benefits of rigid polyurethane foam are significant, and include increasing energy efficiency and reductions in energy-efficient construction costs, reducing project weight and savings of all the construction components that the material replaces. Given the widespread adoption of rigid polyurethane foam in today’s construction, these savings can continue to grow around the world.

  • Better insulation typically results in lower energy use. In some cases, mechanical heating and cooling equipment can be downsized, further increasing space utilization.

  • Buildings can be constructed with thinner walls, while roofs require shorter fasteners.

  • Less complicated and lighter-weight products are usually produced using fewer manufacturing steps, less energy in manufacturing, and less energy in transportation.

Rigid polyurethane and polyiso foams contribute to society and culture by conserving resources. Their ideal properties exceed those of any comparable material in strength-to-weight ratio, R-value and durability, while their versatility enables builders to use them for dozens of different applications, each can yieldi high performance and exceptional energy efficiency.

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