Geofoam - Did You Know?

Geofoam - Did You Know?

From foundations to theatre seating to road embankments EPS geofoam is inherently multi-functional. EPS geofoam enables engineers, architects and builders to design for key geosynthetic functions and select the best combination of products to achieve project goals. Watch a geofoam foundation installation on a passive house project in Oregon.

Key Applications

  • Road construction
  • Road widening
  • Bridge abutment
  • Bridge underfill
  • Culverts, pipelines & buried structures
  • Rail embankment
  • Landscaping
  • Green roofs
  • Retaining and buried wall backfill
  • Slope stabilization
  • Stadium and theatre seating
  • Levees
  • Airport runways
  • Foundations
  • Noise and vibration damping
  • Permafrost embankments
  • Noise and vibration damping


Road Embankments

Geotechnical engineers have long recognized the usefulness of lightweight fill to reduce load strain. Traditional lightweight materials used in embankment construction include chipped bark, sawdust, dried peat, fly ash, slag, cinders, cellular concrete, lightweight aggregates, shredded tires, and seashells. A major advantage of using geofoam as fill material in embankments is that it is up to 50 times less massive than other lightweight fills, thus providing:

  • Maximum available right-of-way for road construction
  • Faster construction schedule
  • Lower traffic impact
  • Comparatively clean construction near waterways
  • Reduced labor
  • Minimal future maintenance

Doing More with Less

The philosophy of “less is more” has permeated almost every facet of modern life – construction engineering notwithstanding. EPS geofoam is a perfect fit, giving designers a unique product that works in conjunction with other, more traditional materials to solve construction problems with unprecedented strength and flexibility.

EPS geofoam enables engineers, architects, builders and other industry professionals to design by function, that is, to focus on the key geosynthetic functions they’re looking for in a particular project, then select the best combination of products to achieve the goals most cost efficiently.

EPS geofoam provides several unique functions not available with other types of geosynthetic materials. This multi-functionality replaces the need for many different products to achieve the desired results, making EPS geofoam highly cost effective. At the same time, EPS geofoam products work very well as a complementary resource with EPS geofoam-based composites and new synergies enabling end users to design with even greater flexibility and more options, not to mention unique results that would not be otherwise attainable.

EPS geofoam products help reduce and absorb the impacts of naturally occurring forces such as gravity and earthquakes rather than trying to strengthen or stiffen a structure to resist the forces. By working with, rather than against these forces, EPS geofoam gives engineers more flexible solutions to construction challenges.


Inside Geofoam

The two key properties that make EPS geofoam so attractive in design and construction are its low density for stress and deformation-related construction problems, and its thermal insulation properties that help combat frost-heave problems.

The density of EPS geofoam is controlled during the manufacturing process, and ranges from 15 to 22 kg/m3 for lightweight fill applications. This low density is only about 1-2% of the density of soil and rock, making EPS geofoam a superior, ultra lightweight fill material that significantly reduces the stress on underlying subgrades. The lighter load reduces settlements and boosts stability against bearing and slope failures.

Because it is approximately 98% to 99% air by volume, geofoam is a very efficient thermal insulator. EPS geofoam can be produced with higher densities to obtain the higher R-values preferred for insulation purposes, as well as to achieve lower deformation. EPS geofoam has been used in road and airfield pavements and railway track systems, beneath refrigerated storage buildings, sports arenas and storage tanks to prevent ground freezing and heaving, and in below-ground building segments to reduce seasonal heating and cooling requirements.

Other notable geofoam properties include:

  • High compressive strength – makes EPS geofoam durable and resistant to damage over time
  • Low moisture absorption – moisture absorption rates increase as density increases, but are still minimal
  • Low interface friction – in direct shear tests, the interface friction between sand and EPS geofoam is comparable to the internal friction of sand alone

*Information provided by and obtained from 

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Drew Foam Co, Inc.

1093 Hwy 278 East
Monticello, AR 71655
(800) 643-1206

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3050 Barry Dr
Portland, TN 37148
(800) 643-1206

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107 Service Road
Anderson, SC 29625
(800) 643-1206

For over 50 years,

Drew Foam has prided ourselves on customer service, providing quality products while exceeding customers expectations and meeting their needs. Whether you are looking for our EPS foam packaging products, insulation, construction materials, or OEM applications, Drew Foam can help.

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