Where Can I Buy Styrofoam?

Table of Contents

What is Styrofoam?

Styrofoam is a trademarked brand name for a type of polystyrene foam. It’s lightweight, versatile, and often used for insulation and packaging. The material’s official name is expanded polystyrene (EPS), but it’s commonly referred to as styrofoam.

Common Uses of Styrofoam

Styrofoam is used in a variety of applications:

  • Packaging: Protecting fragile items during shipping.
  • Crafts: Creating lightweight and easy-to-mold shapes.
  • Insulation: Used in construction to insulate homes and buildings.
  • Floral Arrangements: Providing a stable base for flower displays.

Types of Styrofoam

Styrofoam, a brand name for a type of polystyrene foam, is used in a variety of applications due to its lightweight, insulating, and cushioning properties. There are several types of Styrofoam, each designed for specific uses. Here’s an overview of the main types:

1. Expanded Polystyrene (EPS)

EPS is the most common type of Styrofoam. It is made from small beads of polystyrene that are expanded and fused together. EPS is widely used for packaging, insulation, and in products like disposable cups and plates.


  • Lightweight: Consists of 95-98% air.
  • Good Insulation: Excellent thermal insulation properties.
  • Shock Absorption: Commonly used in packaging to protect fragile items.

2. Extruded Polystyrene (XPS)

XPS is produced by extruding polystyrene, resulting in a closed-cell structure. This makes it more durable and moisture-resistant compared to EPS.


  • Higher Density: More rigid and stronger than EPS.
  • Moisture Resistant: Better resistance to water absorption.
  • Thermal Insulation: Superior insulating properties, used in building insulation.

3. Expanded Polypropylene (EPP)

EPP is similar to EPS but made from polypropylene. It is more flexible and resilient, making it suitable for repeated use.


  • Durability: Highly resilient and can withstand multiple impacts.
  • Lightweight: Retains lightweight properties while being more robust.
  • Reusable: Often used in automotive and reusable packaging applications.

4. Polyisocyanurate (PIR) and Polyurethane (PU) Foams

While not strictly polystyrene, PIR and PU foams are often grouped with Styrofoam for their similar insulating properties. They are used in more demanding insulation applications.


  • High Insulation Value: Excellent thermal resistance.
  • Fire Resistance: Often have better fire-resistant properties compared to EPS and XPS.
  • Rigid: Commonly used in construction for roof, wall, and floor insulation.

5. Molded Expanded Polystyrene (MEPS)

MEPS involves molding EPS beads into specific shapes. It is commonly used in construction and specialty packaging.


  • Versatility: Can be molded into various shapes and sizes.
  • Insulation: Retains the good insulating properties of EPS.
  • Customization: Ideal for specific, shaped applications in packaging and construction.

Applications of Styrofoam

  • Packaging: Protects goods during shipping, used for food containers.
  • Construction: Insulation for buildings, under slabs, and in walls.
  • Crafting: Lightweight material for various DIY projects and decorations.
  • Automotive: EPP is used in car parts for its durability and impact resistance.
  • Marine: Buoys and flotation devices due to its buoyancy.

Environmental Considerations

While Styrofoam is highly useful, it poses environmental challenges due to its non-biodegradable nature and difficulty in recycling. Efforts are being made to develop biodegradable alternatives and improve recycling processes.

Recycling and Disposal

  • Challenges: Difficult to recycle due to its lightweight and bulk.
  • Processes: Mechanical recycling, where it’s shredded and melted, and chemical recycling, breaking it down to its original monomers.
  • Alternatives: Development of biodegradable foam and initiatives to reduce Styrofoam use in favor of more sustainable materials.

Understanding these different types of Styrofoam and their applications helps in making informed decisions about their use, recycling, and environmental impact.

Local Stores to Buy Styrofoam

Hardware Stores

Places like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Ace Hardware carry styrofoam products, especially in the insulation section. You can find sheets of various thicknesses for construction purposes.

Craft Stores

Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and Joann Fabrics are excellent places to find styrofoam for crafting. They offer a variety of shapes, sizes, and sometimes even pre-cut letters and figures.

Office Supply Stores

Office Depot and Staples often stock styrofoam, particularly packing peanuts and sheets for mailing and storage purposes.

Grocery Stores

Larger grocery stores like Walmart and Target sometimes have styrofoam coolers and packing supplies. While the selection may be limited, it’s convenient for quick needs.

Online Retailers for Styrofoam


Amazon has a vast selection of styrofoam products, from craft supplies to insulation sheets. You can easily compare prices and read reviews to find the best product for your needs.


eBay offers both new and used styrofoam products. It’s a good place to find unique sizes or shapes that might not be available elsewhere.


Walmart’s online store has an extensive selection of styrofoam products. You can order online and pick up in-store or have it delivered to your home.

Specialty Websites

Websites like Uline and Foam Factory specialize in packaging and foam products. They offer a wide variety of styrofoam products, often in bulk quantities.

Specialty Stores for Styrofoam

Packaging Suppliers

Packaging suppliers such as Uline and Packagingsupplies.com carry a wide range of styrofoam products, ideal for businesses needing bulk quantities for shipping.

Insulation Suppliers

For construction and insulation needs, suppliers like Insulation4Less and Rmax offer styrofoam boards specifically designed for insulation.

Medical Supply Stores

Medical supply stores sometimes stock specialized styrofoam products for packaging medical equipment and supplies.

Tips for Buying Styrofoam

Consider the Purpose

Always think about what you need the styrofoam for. Insulation? Crafting? Packing? Each use may require a different type or size of styrofoam.

Size and Thickness

Make sure to measure the area where you’ll use the styrofoam. Buying the right size and thickness can save you from having to make multiple trips or orders.

Environmental Impact

Styrofoam is not eco-friendly. Consider how you’ll dispose of it or if there are more sustainable alternatives that can serve the same purpose.

Cost Considerations

Price Variations

Styrofoam prices can vary widely based on type, size, and quantity. Compare prices at different stores to find the best deal.

Bulk Purchases

Buying in bulk often reduces the cost per unit. This is especially useful for businesses or large projects.

Discounts and Deals

Look out for seasonal sales, discount codes, and store coupons. Many stores offer promotions that can significantly lower the cost.

Sustainable Alternatives to Styrofoam

Biodegradable Packing Peanuts

Made from corn starch or other plant-based materials, these packing peanuts dissolve in water and are much kinder to the environment.

Recycled Paper Products

Recycled paper can be used for insulation and packing. It’s a great way to reduce waste and recycle materials.

Mushroom Packaging

This innovative packaging is made from agricultural waste and mycelium. It’s compostable and offers similar protective qualities as styrofoam.

DIY Styrofoam Alternatives

Using Cardboard

Cardboard can often replace styrofoam in packing and crafting. It’s sturdy, versatile, and recyclable.

Crafting with Paper Mache

For creative projects, paper mache is an excellent alternative. It’s easy to make, moldable, and environmentally friendly.


Finding the right styrofoam for your needs involves knowing where to look and what to consider. From local hardware stores to specialized online retailers, there are numerous options available. By considering the purpose, size, and environmental impact, you can make an informed decision. Moreover, exploring sustainable alternatives can benefit both you and the planet.


Can I buy styrofoam in bulk?

Yes, many suppliers like Uline and Foam Factory offer bulk purchasing options, which can be cost-effective for large projects or businesses.

Is styrofoam recyclable?

Styrofoam is technically recyclable, but it’s not accepted in most curbside recycling programs. Check with local recycling centers for specific guidelines.

Are there eco-friendly alternatives to styrofoam?

Yes, there are several alternatives such as biodegradable packing peanuts, recycled paper products, and mushroom packaging.

Can I use styrofoam for insulation?

Yes, both EPS and XPS types of styrofoam are commonly used for insulation in buildings due to their thermal properties.

Where can I buy styrofoam for craft projects?

Craft stores like Michaels, Hobby Lobby, and Joann Fabrics are excellent places to find a variety of styrofoam shapes and sizes for crafting.

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