EPS Vs XPS: What Is the Difference Between EPS And XPS Insulation?

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Explore the distinctions between EPS and XPS insulation as we delve into the key differences between these two popular insulation materials. Discover the benefits of EPS versus XPS to make an informed decision for your insulation needs.

Uncover the unique features of EPS and XPS insulation and gain insights into which option might be the ideal choice for your specific requirements. Stay informed about the essential factors that set EPS apart from XPS and vice versa, ensuring you select the most suitable insulation solution for your project.

What Is EPS?

EPS, or expanded polystyrene insulation, is crafted by subjecting foam beads to heat or steam within a mold. This process prompts the beads to expand and amalgamate.

A single cubic meter of EPS encompasses around 10 million beads, each boasting roughly 3,000 closed-off cells filled with air.

Essentially, EPS consists of 2% polystyrene and a whopping 98% air. While the manufacturing process yields a closed-cell structure, it doesn’t produce a fully closed-cell insulation board, primarily due to potential voids that may form between the beads.

What Is Polystyrene?

Polystyrene is a synthetic polymer made from the monomer styrene. It is a versatile and widely used plastic material known for its lightweight and insulating properties. Polystyrene can be produced in various forms, including solid and foam.

What Is XPS?

XPS, or extruded polystyrene insulation, is produced through extrusion, a continuous manufacturing process that yields a closed-cell structure featuring smooth surfaces on both the top and bottom of the board.

The closed-cell design of XPS serves as a barrier, preventing water infiltration into the insulation board’s structure, and ensuring prolonged strength and durability.

Thermal Conductivity of EPS and XPS

The thermal conductivity of EPS (expanded polystyrene) and XPS (extruded polystyrene) refers to their respective abilities to conduct heat.

EPS typically has a lower thermal conductivity compared to XPS. This means that EPS generally offers better insulation properties, as it is less effective at conducting heat through its structure.

In practical terms, a lower thermal conductivity indicates that the material is more resistant to heat transfer, making it a suitable choice for insulation applications.

Both EPS and XPS are commonly used as insulation materials in construction, with their distinct manufacturing processes contributing to variations in their thermal conductivity values.

Compressive Strength of EPS and XPS

The compressive strength of EPS (expanded polystyrene) and XPS (extruded polystyrene) refers to their ability to withstand applied loads or pressure without significant deformation. In general, XPS tends to have a higher compressive strength compared to EPS.

XPS is known for its closed-cell structure and higher density, which contributes to its greater compressive strength. This property makes XPS well-suited for applications where the insulation material needs to bear heavy loads, such as under concrete slabs or in roofing systems.

On the other hand, EPS has a lower density and may exhibit lower compressive strength compared to XPS. It is often used in applications where the material is not subjected to heavy loads or pressure.

In summary, when considering compressive strength, XPS is typically chosen for applications that require a higher resistance to deformation under pressure, while EPS may be suitable for lighter load-bearing scenarios.

Applications of EPS and XPS

Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) and Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) are widely used insulation materials with various applications in construction and other industries. Here are some common applications for EPS and XPS:

EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) Applications:

  1. Building Insulation: EPS is commonly used as insulation in walls, roofs, and floors of residential and commercial buildings.
  2. Geofoam: Used in civil engineering applications, EPS can be employed as lightweight fill material for highway embankments, bridge abutments, and other construction projects.
  3. Packaging Material: EPS is widely used for packaging fragile items due to its lightweight and shock-absorbing properties.
  4. Floatation Devices: The buoyant nature of EPS makes it suitable for crafting flotation devices, such as life jackets and buoys.
  5. Craft and Art Projects: Due to its ease of shaping and lightweight characteristics, EPS is often used in crafting and art projects.

XPS (Extruded Polystyrene) Applications:

  1. Underground Insulation: XPS is used for insulating foundations, basement walls, and under-slab applications to prevent heat loss.
  2. Roofing Insulation: XPS is employed in flat roofing systems to provide insulation and resist moisture penetration.
  3. Cold Storage: XPS is used in the construction of refrigerated storage facilities and cold rooms due to its resistance to moisture and temperature stability.
  4. Road and Rail Construction: XPS can be used in transportation infrastructure projects to provide insulation and stability.
  5. Facade Systems: XPS is utilized in external insulation systems for building facades, contributing to energy efficiency.
  6. Hydronic Heating Systems: XPS is often used in hydronic heating applications, providing insulation under the flooring to improve energy efficiency.

Both EPS and XPS offer excellent thermal insulation properties. Still, their different manufacturing processes and material characteristics make them suitable for various applications based on factors such as compressive strength, moisture resistance, and cost considerations.

Sustainability of EPS and XPS

The sustainability of EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) and XPS (Extruded Polystyrene) involves considerations related to their environmental impact, recyclability, energy consumption in manufacturing, and long-term performance. Here’s an overview of sustainability aspects for both materials:

EPS (Expanded Polystyrene):

  1. Recyclability: EPS is recyclable, but the effectiveness of recycling programs can vary regionally. In some places, EPS foam is accepted for recycling, while in others, it might be more challenging to find recycling facilities.
  2. Resource Use: EPS is derived from petroleum-based raw materials. The extraction and processing of these non-renewable resources contribute to the environmental footprint of EPS.
  3. Energy Consumption: The manufacturing process of EPS typically requires less energy compared to XPS. It involves expanding polystyrene beads with steam, creating a lightweight and insulating material.
  4. Biodegradability: EPS is not easily biodegradable and can persist in the environment for a long time if not properly managed. This characteristic raises concerns about its impact on ecosystems and wildlife.

XPS (Extruded Polystyrene):

  1. Recyclability: XPS is more challenging to recycle than EPS due to its closed-cell structure and the blowing agents used in its production. Recycling options for XPS are limited, and the material is often disposed of in landfills.
  2. Resource Use: Similar to EPS, XPS is derived from petroleum-based materials, contributing to the depletion of non-renewable resources.
  3. Energy Consumption: The manufacturing process of XPS involves extrusion and requires more energy compared to EPS production. The extrusion process involves melting and shaping the polystyrene material, making it more energy-intensive.
  4. Longevity: Both EPS and XPS are durable materials with a long lifespan, contributing to the longevity of structures in which they are used. This durability can be considered a positive aspect from a sustainability perspective.

While both EPS and XPS offer effective thermal insulation properties, their sustainability profiles differ. EPS tends to have a somewhat better recycling profile and lower energy consumption during manufacturing.

However, concerns about the persistence of EPS in the environment and its reliance on petroleum-based resources persist. XPS, on the other hand, faces challenges in recycling and has a higher energy-intensive manufacturing process. Consideration of local recycling capabilities, energy sources, and disposal practices should be taken into account when evaluating the sustainability of these materials in specific contexts.

The Importance of Insulation

Insulation plays a crucial role in maintaining comfortable and energy-efficient environments in various structures. Here are key aspects highlighting the importance of insulation:

Energy Efficiency:

Insulation helps regulate indoor temperatures, reducing the need for excessive heating or cooling.

Properly insulated buildings retain heat during colder months and remain cooler in warmer weather, leading to significant energy savings.

Cost Savings:

By minimizing heat transfer, insulation contributes to lower energy consumption and, consequently, reduced utility bills.

Well-insulated homes and commercial spaces require less energy for heating and cooling, resulting in long-term cost savings.

Environmental Impact:

Improved energy efficiency through insulation reduces overall energy consumption, lowering greenhouse gas emissions and environmental impact.

Using sustainable insulation materials and practices can further contribute to environmentally responsible building practices.

Comfort and Livability:

Insulation helps create a more comfortable indoor environment by stabilizing temperatures and minimizing drafts.

Proper insulation also reduces noise transmission, enhancing the overall livability and tranquility of indoor spaces.

Structural Integrity:

Insulation can protect buildings from temperature-related stress, preventing issues such as moisture condensation and thermal expansion/contraction that may compromise structural integrity.

Health and Well-being:

Effective insulation contributes to healthier indoor air quality by minimizing the infiltration of pollutants and allergens.

It helps create a more consistent and comfortable living or working environment, positively impacting occupants’ well-being.

Condensation Prevention:

Insulation prevents the formation of condensation on surfaces, which can lead to mold growth and damage over time.

Controlling moisture through insulation is crucial for maintaining the integrity of building materials and preventing potential health hazards.

Regulatory Compliance:

Many building codes and energy efficiency standards require the inclusion of insulation to meet specific performance criteria.

Proper insulation ensures compliance with these regulations, supporting the durability and sustainability of structures.

Insulation is a fundamental element in modern construction, contributing to energy efficiency, cost savings, environmental responsibility, and overall comfort. Whether in residential, commercial, or industrial settings, the inclusion of high-quality insulation is a strategic investment with wide-ranging benefits for both occupants and the environment.

What Is EPS Insulation?

EPS insulation stands for Expanded Polystyrene insulation. It is a type of rigid foam insulation material that is widely used in construction for its excellent thermal insulation properties.

EPS insulation is derived from the polymerization of styrene, a synthetic hydrocarbon, and is manufactured through a process of expanding polystyrene beads with steam.

What Are the Advantages of EPS Insulation?

EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) insulation offers several advantages, making it a popular choice for various construction and insulation applications. Here are some key advantages of EPS insulation:

Excellent Thermal Insulation:

EPS has outstanding thermal insulation properties, effectively reducing heat transfer and helping to maintain comfortable indoor temperatures in both hot and cold climates.


Being lightweight makes EPS easy to handle and install. It simplifies transportation, reduces the load on structures, and facilitates quicker installation.

Versatility in Applications:

EPS insulation comes in various forms, including boards, panels, and custom shapes, making it versatile for different applications such as walls, roofs, floors, and foundations.

Moisture Resistance:

The closed-cell structure of EPS provides resistance to moisture absorption, contributing to its durability and preventing the insulation material from losing its effectiveness over time.


EPS is often more cost-effective compared to some other insulation materials. Its affordability makes it an attractive option for a wide range of construction projects.

Ease of Installation:

The lightweight nature and versatility of EPS make it easy to cut, shape, and install. It can be customized to fit specific spaces, contributing to efficient and straightforward installation processes.


EPS insulation is durable and long-lasting, providing reliable thermal performance over an extended period. It can withstand the rigors of construction and maintain its effectiveness over time.


EPS is recyclable, contributing to its environmental sustainability. Efforts are being made to improve recycling infrastructure, making it an increasingly eco-friendly option.

Sound Insulation:

EPS also exhibits good sound insulation properties, helping to reduce the transmission of noise between different areas of a building.


EPS is non-toxic and inert, posing no threat to human health. It does not contain CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) or HCFCs (hydrochlorofluorocarbons), contributing to its safety profile.

Resistance to Pests and Mold:

EPS is resistant to pests, such as rodents, and does not provide a favorable environment for mold growth, contributing to healthier indoor air quality.

Consistent Performance:

The thermal performance of EPS is stable over time, ensuring that the insulation maintains its effectiveness throughout the lifespan of the building.

What Is XPS Insulation?

XPS insulation stands for Extruded Polystyrene insulation. It is a type of rigid foam insulation material widely used in construction for its excellent thermal insulation properties.

XPS insulation is manufactured through an extrusion process that involves melting polystyrene pellets and forming them into a continuous, closed-cell structure.

What Are the Advantages of XPS Insulation?

Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) insulation offers several advantages, making it a popular choice for a variety of construction and insulation applications. Here are some key advantages of XPS insulation:

Excellent Thermal Insulation:

XPS provides outstanding thermal insulation, effectively reducing heat transfer and contributing to energy efficiency in buildings. It helps maintain stable indoor temperatures in different weather conditions.

Closed-Cell Structure:

The closed-cell structure of XPS enhances its resistance to moisture absorption, making it a reliable choice for applications where water resistance is crucial. This property helps maintain the insulation’s performance over time.

High Compressive Strength:

XPS insulation possesses high compressive strength, making it resistant to deformation under heavy loads. This characteristic makes it suitable for applications where the insulation material needs to support structural weight, such as under concrete slabs.

Resistance to Moisture:

Due to its closed-cell structure, XPS is resistant to moisture infiltration. This property is particularly beneficial in areas prone to damp conditions, such as basements and below-grade applications.

Low Water Absorption:

XPS has low water absorption properties, ensuring that it maintains its thermal performance even when exposed to moisture over an extended period.

Dimensional Stability:

XPS insulation exhibits good dimensional stability, retaining its shape and size over time. This characteristic contributes to the longevity and effectiveness of the insulation.

Versatility in Applications:

XPS is available in various forms, including boards and panels, making it versatile for use in walls, roofs, floors, and foundations in both residential and commercial buildings.

Ease of Installation:

The rigid nature of XPS makes it easy to cut and install, offering flexibility in adapting to different construction requirements. It is suitable for both new construction and retrofit projects.

Resistance to Chemicals:

XPS is resistant to many chemicals, enhancing its durability and suitability for various construction applications where exposure to certain chemicals may occur.

Fire Retardant Properties:

XPS is treated with fire retardants during manufacturing to enhance its fire resistance. This is an important safety feature, especially in building applications where fire safety is a consideration.

Long-Term Performance:

XPS insulation is known for its long-term durability, providing consistent thermal performance throughout the lifespan of a building.


While not as easily recyclable as some other materials, efforts are being made to recycle XPS insulation. Some facilities accept XPS for recycling, contributing to environmental sustainability.

In summary, XPS insulation combines excellent thermal performance, resistance to moisture, high compressive strength, and versatility, making it a preferred choice for various construction applications. These advantages contribute to its widespread use in both residential and commercial building projects.

EPS Vs XPS Compare

Here’s a table summarizing key differences between Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) and Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) across various characteristics:

CharacteristicEPS (Expanded Polystyrene)XPS (Extruded Polystyrene)
R-value (Thermal Resistance)Typically ranges from 3.75 to 4.7 (GPS) per inch of thicknessTypically ranges from 4.5 to 5 per inch of thickness
Long-term Thermal Resistance (LTTR)LTTR values may vary depending on manufacturer and conditionsGenerally, LTTR values are stable and predictable
Environmental ImpactRecyclable, but recycling availability varies by regionMore challenging to recycle; often disposed of in landfills
Water AbsorptionCan absorb water, but tends to dry out over timeResistant to water absorption, making it more stable
Compressive ResistanceLower compressive strength compared to XPSHigher compressive strength, suitable for heavy loads
Dimensions AvailableAvailable in various sizes and thicknessesCommonly available in standard sheets and thicknesses
Manufacturing ProcessExpanded through beads and steam, lower energy consumptionExtruded and expanded with blowing agents, higher energy consumption
DensityGenerally lower densityHigher density, contributing to increased strength
CostOften lower cost due to manufacturing processGenerally higher cost due to production complexity
BiodegradabilityNot easily biodegradable, can persist in the environmentNot easily biodegradable, can persist in the environment
Common ApplicationsPackaging, insulation, Geofoam, craft projectsInsulation for foundations, roofs, cold storage, facades
Overall PerformanceEffective insulation with lower compressive strengthEffective insulation with higher compressive strength

It’s important to note that specific product characteristics may vary between manufacturers, and regional availability of recycling facilities can impact the environmental sustainability of both EPS and XPS. When choosing between EPS and XPS, it’s advisable to consider the specific requirements of the application and the environmental considerations relevant to the location.

EPS Vs XPS Insulation

EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) Insulation vs. XPS (Extruded Polystyrene) Insulation:

  1. Manufacturing Process:
    • EPS: Expanded through beads with steam.
    • XPS: Extruded and expanded with blowing agents.
  2. Cellular Structure:
    • EPS: Generally has a more open-cell structure.
    • XPS: Has a closed-cell structure.
  3. Density:
    • EPS: Lower density compared to XPS.
    • XPS: Higher density, contributing to increased strength.
  4. Thermal Conductivity (R-value):
    • EPS: Typically ranges from 3.5 to 4.5 per inch of thickness.
    • XPS: Typically ranges from 4.5 to 5 per inch of thickness.
  5. Compressive Strength:
    • EPS: Lower compressive strength compared to XPS.
    • XPS: Higher compressive strength, suitable for heavy loads.
  6. Moisture Resistance:
    • EPS: Can absorb water, but tends to dry out over time.
    • XPS: Resistant to water absorption, making it more stable.
  7. Environmental Impact:
    • EPS: Recyclable, but concerns about long-term environmental impact.
    • XPS: More challenging to recycle, disposed in landfills; concerns about environmental impact.
  8. Recycling:
    • EPS: More widely recyclable; recycling options may vary by region.
    • XPS: Limited recycling options; often disposed in landfills.
  9. Flammability:
    • EPS: Generally flammable, flame retardants may be added.
    • XPS: Treated with fire retardants; enhanced fire resistance.
  10. Cost:
    • EPS: Often lower cost due to manufacturing process.
    • XPS: Generally higher cost due to production complexity.
  11. Versatility:
    • EPS: Versatile, available in various sizes and thicknesses.
    • XPS: Commonly available in standard sheets and thicknesses.
  12. Applications:
    • EPS: Commonly used in packaging, insulation, and craft projects.
    • XPS: Widely used in insulation for foundations, roofs, cold storage, and facades.

Comparison Table:

CharacteristicEPS (Expanded Polystyrene)XPS (Extruded Polystyrene)
Manufacturing ProcessExpanded through beads with steamExtruded and expanded with blowing agents
Cellular StructureThe generally more open-cell structureClosed-cell structure
DensityLower density compared to XPSHigher density, increased strength
Thermal Conductivity (R-value)Ranges from 3.5 to 4.5 per inchRanges from 4.5 to 5 per inch
Compressive StrengthLower compressive strengthHigher compressive strength
Moisture ResistanceCan absorb water, tends to dry outResistant to water absorption, stable
Environmental ImpactRecyclable, concerns about long-term impactChallenging to recycle, environmental concerns
RecyclingMore widely recyclable, regional variationsLimited recycling options, often in landfills
FlammabilityGenerally flammable, flame retardants addedTreated with fire retardants, enhanced resistance
CostOften lower cost due to manufacturingGenerally higher cost due to complexity
VersatilityVersatile, available in various formsCommonly available in standard sheets
ApplicationsPackaging, insulation, craft projectsInsulation for foundations, roofs, facades

It’s important to note that the choice between EPS and XPS depends on specific project requirements, local availability, environmental considerations, and cost factors. Each material has its strengths and weaknesses, and the optimal choice may vary based on the intended application and regional constraints.


In comparing Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) and Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) insulation, it is evident that both materials offer unique advantages and considerations.

EPS, with its generally lower cost, recyclability, and versatility, is well-suited for various applications such as packaging and crafting. On the other hand, XPS stands out with its higher compressive strength, lower water absorption, and enhanced fire resistance, making it preferable in construction applications where durability and stability under heavy loads are paramount.

The choice between EPS and XPS depends on specific project requirements, environmental concerns, and budget considerations. While EPS presents advantages in terms of recyclability and cost-effectiveness, XPS excels in areas requiring superior compressive strength and resistance to moisture. Selecting the appropriate insulation material should involve a thoughtful evaluation of these factors, taking into account the unique demands of each project and the desired long-term performance.

As you embark on insulation decisions for your projects, consider the specific needs and conditions of the application. Conduct a thorough assessment of factors such as thermal performance, water resistance, load-bearing requirements, and environmental considerations.

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