Insulation install on newly built home

In modern-day construction, meeting the demands of energy efficiency and structural integrity is paramount for any builder.

Initiatives such as 45L are driving architects, specifiers, builders, contractors, and building owners to incorporate green building practices and sustainability into every one of their projects.

Given this backdrop, continuous insulation has transformed into a preferred solution, and those who select it as a building material can tout its benefits to prospects and customers to earn more business.

What is Continuous Insulation?

Continuous insulation, such as OX-IS, is installed continuously around the exterior walls of a building. Unlike traditional insulation methods that may have gaps and ultimately become susceptible to thermal bridging, continuous insulation provides a seamless thermal barrier, reducing heat transfer and improving energy efficiency.

Many industry professionals refer to continuous insulation as a “big blanket” that surrounds the entire structure. Unlike traditional batt insulation that is split by the stud, there are no spaces or breaks in a continuous insulation installation for thermal energy to pass. This has made the material popular in residential, multifamily, and even commercial construction projects.

The Key Advantages

Continuous insulation provides a higher level of thermal performance, helping to reduce heating and cooling costs for owners. When combined with high-performance windows and doors, the material is the perfect solution for lower HERS scores, landing these homes in the top percentile of energy-efficient homes across the country.

Continuous insulation also improves overall occupant comfort by maintaining more consistent indoor temperatures. This is important in both summer and winter seasons and in any region or climate zone.

In addition, because continuous insulation is an effective thermal barrier, it makes homes much less prone to issues such as settling and moisture retention. Reducing moisture is crucial in minimizing the risk of sick building syndrome, which can have adverse effects on the occupants inside.

Finally, one common misconception is that continuous insulation is only suitable for new construction. In reality, it can be used in retrofit applications for existing structures that need a boost in thermal performance.

CI and Code Compliance

One of the most considerable changes to the International Code Council’s 2021 guidelines are updates to insulation’s minimum R-values. For instance, in climate zone three (the Carolinas, Georgia, Alabama, and more), builders of wood frame structures must meet R-values of 19. And in many other regions of the United States, these minimum values jump to R-20.

For builders across the country who are accustomed to using only cavity insulation, supplementing with more efficient continuous insulation solutions can help to maintain compliance with these codes.

In fact, in order to meet the required R-20 in Nashville, one builder (M Squared Homebuilders) switched from using OSB to 1˝ OX-IS (R-6) and blow-in cellulose insulation (R-13.75) to save costs and meet code mandates.

Speaking to its advantages, builder and owner Michael Craddock said, “It is really rewarding to find a product like OX-IS that is code-compliant, eliminates thermal breaks, and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.”

The Bottom Line

Products such as OX-IS are proving to be game changers. The integrated material’s ability to improve energy efficiency, reduce heating and cooling costs, and enhance overall comfort makes it a top choice for builders looking to meet the demands of today's construction industry.