Getting the Biggest Bang for your Insulation Buck

Getting the Biggest Bang for your Insulation Buck

Getting the Biggest Bang for your Insulation Buck

In the midst of rising material costs and severe labor shortages, finding rigid foam insulation products that are high performance, budget-friendly and help minimize labor is increasingly important for turning a profit. The challenge comes in finding the right product in a market that is flooded with options.

Commonly available rigid foam insulations include: polyisocyanurate (polyiso), extruded polystyrene

(XPS) and expanded polystyrene (EPS). While each of these

product’s purpose is to prevent heat loss during the winter and heat gain during the summer, their efficiency and features vary dramatically. In

order to favorably promote their products, some manufacturers use these positioning statements: “highest R-value per inch” or “highest R-value per dollar.” Understanding the difference between these marketing terms will help you determine which product will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

R-Value per inch

When rigid foam insulation manufacturers promote their products in terms of R-value per inch, they are stating R-value as a product of the thickness of the rigid foam board. As a general rule, the higher the R-value per inch, the more efficient the insulation is at heat blocking. This is a helpful metric to have if your building goals include assembling the thinnest walls or roofs possible. The issue is that this positioning statement does not provide any information of the insulation’s benefit vs. cost.

If you were only to consider an insulation’s R-value per inch, it would be similar to buying gas strictly for its octane rating. This may be important for some car owners or in racing applications, but may be irrelevant to what most people care about: price per gallon.

R-Value per dollar

Alternatively, some manufacturers promote their products with an R-value per dollar emphasis. This is an important distinguishing factor because it compares the R-value to the insulation’s material and labor installation costs. Consider this the insulation’s “bang for the buck.” Among the rigid foam insulation choices, EPS provides the highest R-value per dollar.


Builders often choose EPS insulation for its budget-friendly performance benefits. Given that this rigid foam insulation is easily installed, performs well against moisture and retains a high R-value per dollar in labor and materials, EPS helps builders reduce overall project costs. With additional product options available for rapid deployment, EPS insulation can offer further project savings.


R-value per inch has its place when the building goal is thinner walls, but R-value per dollar is the more favorable, budget-friendly rigid foam insulation descriptor. When you are considering which rigid foam insulation provides the biggest bang for your buck, EPS fits the bill with the highest R-value per dollar of any rigid foam.