The Case for Continuous Insulation Heats Up

Recently, we attended a Continuous Insulation webinar put on by Owens Corning for the ICAA,  and we loved this opening analogy by Drew Clausen:

Imagine you are traveling up in northern Wisconsin. Your car breaks down and it’s the middle of winter.  You get out of the car to inspect the problem and quickly realize:  You are cold.  Why? Because this is your jacket.  All your heat is escaping from the holes.


Then Rufus jumps out of the car to see what’s going on. Rufus is not cold. He is completely warm. Then again, his body is encased in a continue layer of fur, thermal and moisture resistant fur. That’s the idea behind continuous insulation.

ECHOtape has covered continuous insulation here and here, but like Clausen indicates early on, it’s an ever-expanding conversation in the building and construction industry. With the clear benefits demonstrated in using continuous insulation and its increasing availability as a practical material, it is not surprising that building and energy codes are not only recognizing it, but in some cases are now requiring it to be used. Indeed, Ashrae 90.1 and IECC now prescribe CI in most every climate zone.

Energy Codes State by State | via TAPED, the ECHOtape blog

Filled with a plethora of information,  the key points Clausen delivered are:

  • CI minimizes thermal bridging, and minimizes moisture concerns;
  • Energy codes are prescribing more and more CI;
  • There are 4 Steps to Compliance (code + climate zone + type + path);
  • Multiple types of CI exist with up to 8 differentiators (i.e. moisture resistance, fire resistance, sustainability, etc.);
  • Some CI can also serve as an air/water barrier;
  • There are multiple attachment options with varying degrees of thermal efficiency;
  • Cladding choice often dictates which CI is the best choice for the job.

What does this have to do with tape? Well…. here’s our takeaway: Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) can be used as CI in above-grade exterior walls, making it ideal behind claddings such as brick, stone and stucco. It’s also readily used in foundation walls, beneath concrete slabs and low slope roofing. In addition to providing thermal protection, XPS may also serve as air and water barrier, where building and energy codes require taping seams with approved non-permeable adhesives.

Secondly, tape can be used to help create continuous air/water barrier at the roof and foundation wall interface by taping all transition seams.

Lastly,  we’ll be looking into how tape might eventually replace industry-standard fasteners and washers.