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What’s the most cost effective alternative to PIR floor insulation?

 

In our latest “Your Questions, Answered” video, Jason Martin answers a question we have received as a result of recent price increases in PIR insulation, “What’s the most cost effective alternative to PIR floor insulation?”

 Firstly, what has caused these price increases? Methylene Diphenyl Diisocyanate or MDI is one of the key components in the manufacture of PIR insulation. MDI is manufactured on a global scale by a small number of large companies. Due to recent outages at some of these plants in Asia and in Europe MDI has become extremely hard to get. This has a number of knock on effects for PIR manufacturers.

 Firstly, reduced output: if less MDI is available to PIR manufactures, then they can produce less product, so output is reduced.

Secondly, increased cost:  as MDI is currently in high demand, it is commanding a higher price and this has a knock-on effect for the production of PIR insulation, and ultimately a higher cost for PIR insulation on the market.

PIR insulation alternatives

So, what’s the alternative to PIR? If we look at cavity walls and roofs, increasing the thickness of the insulation can often be problematic and can increase your bill costs even further. For this reason, we still recommend that PIR insulation is the most cost effective solution for these applications.

If we look at floors however, we have scope to increase the thickness of the insulation by either increasing the depth of the dig or by reducing the amount of hard core we use.

If we can increase the thickness of the floor insulation, EPS is a very cost effective solution for floor applications.

PIR and EPS insulation comparison

So how does PIR compare with EPS insulation?

We’ll have a look at our Quinn Therm PIR insulation and compare it to our Quinn Lite Pac EPS insulation. The thermal conductivity of our Quinn Therm PIR is 0.022W/mK. Fig. 1 shows the thermal conductivity of our Quinn Lite Pac EPS products, which ranges from 0.038W/mK to 0.031W/mK.

 

EPS vs PIR insulation thermal conductivity
Fig. 1: PIR and EPS insulation thermal conductivity

  

So, our Quinn Therm insulation is obviously more thermally efficient than our range of EPS insulations. However, we can achieve the same U-value by increasing the thickness of the EPS insulation.

The table in Fig. 2 shows the required depth of Quinn Lite Pac EPS insulation required to achieve the same U-value as each of our Quinn Therm PIR insulation thicknesses.

If we look at a typical depth of Quinn Therm PIR insulation of 100mm, you can see that the same U-value can be achieved using Quinn Lite Pac EPS with a depth increase of as little as 40mm.

Looking at another typical depth of 150mm Quinn Therm PIR, an increased depth of as little as 60mm is required to achieve the same U-value when using our Lite Pac EPS insulation.

 

Quinn PIR and EPS insulation comparison
Fig. 2: Substituting PIR for EPS insulation and achieving the same U-values

 

So the exact same U-values can be easily achieved by substituting PIR insulation with these depths of EPS insulation.

These EPS thicknesses can be easily accommodated by increasing the depth of the dig, or by reducing the depth of the hard core, so it should always be considered.

PIR and EPS insulation strength requirements

The compressive strength of our Quinn Therm PIR is greater than 150 kPa, which is equivalent to 150 kN/m2. This is comparable to our Quinn Lite Pac EPS 150, which has the same compressive strength.

Our EPS 70 and EPS 100 have a slightly reduced compressive strength, however these are still suitable for all domestic and most commercial applications, and so should be considered for these.

Quality of insulation products

When you are choosing your insulation, you will also be looking at the quality of the product, and will be looking for the right certifications and accreditations.

In Quinn Lite Pac, we have BBA and IAB certification. We also have ISO 9001 quality management system. So, we have a full range of accreditations and certifications to prove the high quality of our EPS insulation products.

In addition to that we have a full team of highly experienced technical support staff available to answer all your queries. If you have further questions, don’t hesitate to contact the team on +44 28 67748866 or technical@quinn-buildingproducts.com.
Quinn Lite Pac EPS Insulation Quinn Therm PIR Insulation