Geofoam is an incredibly durable and cost-effective material used in a variety of construction projects, from retaining walls, to rooftop garden boxes, to tiered stadium seating. It is commonly made from expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam, which makes it lightweight and ideal for projects where a reduction of material weight is essential.
How Is Geofoam Used?
Geofoam can be used in a number of construction applications. Since the density of geofoam is 50 to 100 times lower than soil, it is an ideal lightweight fill material in soil and road embankment projects. It can be used as backfill behind retaining structures, as it reduces lateral pressure, provides better waterproofing, and reduces ground settling, all without adding significant load.
When used for slope stabilisation, the existing soil is removed and replaced with EPS geofoam. Since it significantly reducing stress to underlying sub-grades, it can be used on both soil and rocky slopes.
Geofoam is also an excellent choice as pavement insulation for both highway and airport roadways, and provides a lightweight, stable base in construction over utility lines.
Where weight reduction is vital, geofoam is an ideal material choice. When used to make roof-top planters for urban gardens, it provides a water-resistance medium that does not add significant load to the roof structure. A popular material in stadiums, theatres, and gymnasiums, geofoam is the fill material of choice for places where tiered seating is needed.
Geofoam is easy to use and can be installed without the special lifting equipment usually needed with steel, wood, concrete and other heavy materials. Its high compressive resistance and low weight make it effective for both new construction and renovation projects.
Why Use Geofoam?
Saving time and money is always important on any construction project. Using EPS geofoam blocks accomplishes this in several ways:
- First, and perhaps the most significant, is reduced labour and equipment costs. Since geofoam is so light and easy to install, it can quickly be carried to the work site and set in place by a labourer. If alterations are needed for blocks to fit properly, there is no need to send them back to the factory or to arrange for special on-site equipment. EPS geofoam can easily be trimmed using a hot wire cutter or hand saw.
- Geofoam can be installed in most weather conditions and there is no need for soil compaction and stabilisation before blocks can be set into place.
- Safety of employees and the environment is a top priority on the construction site. Geofoam is lightweight and does not require heavy lifting to set it place, reducing on-the-job injuries.
- The blocks are non-toxic and do not attract animals or insects. Since EPS geofoam does not provide nutrients, plant roots will not infiltrate the foam blocks and compromise structural integrity. In addition, there are no negative effects on soil and groundwater quality, and geofoam reduces runoff to site-adjacent water sources.
When it comes to customisation, geofoam is beyond comparison. Companies like Foam Technologies make expanded polystyrene (EPS) geofoam blocks that come in standard block sizes, or that can be factory cut into custom shapes and sizes depending on the specific needs of the project. When you consider all its advantages, it’s easy to see why geofoam is one of the best-selling lightweight fill materials for new and remodelling of landscape features in construction projects