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A Mountain of Foam

by Tara

We received a small mountain of EPS foam for our shallow frost-protected slabs today, and getting it home was a bit of a fiasco. Our shipment was supposed to arrive on a box truck, but instead, it came on a seventy-foot-long semi. Tyler did his best to convince the delivery driver to bring his gargantuan rig through the hinterland roads that lead to our property, but the man wasn't keen.

And so, rather than unloading the shipment the bottom of our driveway as we'd hoped, we met at a highway pull-off about five miles away. Apparently there was some miscommunication with dispatch—the resulting "shit sandwich", as our driver Stephen put it, was both his and ours to eat. Together, we set about unloading three enormous pallets of foam from his truck, one sheet at a time:

Tyler & Steven Unloading EPS Foam

Some of it went on the side of the road:

3" EPS Foam

...and some of it went right onto our truck and trailer. While we were stacking, Tyler and I had flashbacks of being in Southeast Asia. In Cambodia, they'd probably laugh at our amateur loading!

EPS Foam Load 1 of 4 Khmer Man Pulling Enormous Load Enormous Load of Boxes on Truck

When we were through with one round of stacking, Tyler drove off to unload the sheets at home by himself, while Stephen and I kept moving more foam out of the semi. Eventually, Tyler returned to the scene with an empty pickup and trailer, and we repeated the whole process anew. When all of the foam was out of the semi, Stephen bade us farewell, leaving me to guard the remaining pile of insulation on my own.

As I sat and waited, surveying the dark clouds overhead, I decided that if it started raining, I'd build myself a little foam fort by the side of the road for shelter. I never needed to, but the thought made me smile.

A few hours later, we finally hoisted the last few sheets of the stuff into the trailer, and drove back to our land together. Up our mud-pit of a road we went, until we reached our clearing, and I was able to see Tyler's handiwork: right by our compost bins (oh the irony!) was a mountain of foam. As we stacked the final pieces, rain began to fall.

EPS Foam on Muddy Trailer Tyler Unloading EPS Foam Tyler Unloading EPS Foam EPS Foam Next to Compost Bins

To be perfectly honest, this excursion was the last thing I wanted to do on a cold, grey day, but in the end, it was pretty fun. I had some nice chats with our friendly driver about life and travel and his fascinating family history, and I got to go inside of a semi trailer for the first time ever. Best of all, aside from the concrete itself, we now have everything we need to pour our foundations!



Hi guys,

I recently laid a slab fully insulated just like you...went fairly well. Hopefully should be quite warm in winter.
Posted by Peter on May 26th, 2013 at 4:39 PM
Awesome! Do you have pictures/a blog/etc where we could see? We just laid our insulation in the form today--if the weather holds we'll be pouring in a week or so!
Posted by Tyler on May 28th, 2013 at 9:09 PM
Blog? No way..T&T level dedication levels sadly lacking. Got photos though and happy to share some knowledge/experiences. Sadly there are few alternatives to XPS (or EPS). And the foundations are perhaps not the the place to experiment. Thermal bridging critical - a bucket with a small hole will leak all your heat. I can suggest some good thermal calculations that a person of numbers can use to demystify the witch doctorey that often surrounds making an "eco-house".
Posted by Peter on June 5th, 2013 at 5:48 AM
We'd love to see some pictures and hear anything you'd like to share about the things you learned during your build/mistakes you made/etc. If you feel like it, drop us a note via our contact page or even post it as a comment. No worries if you don't have the time!
Posted by Tyler on June 5th, 2013 at 7:38 AM
Hi, I was wondering where you purchased your EPS? Thanks.
Posted by Brian on October 25th, 2013 at 10:42 PM
Hey Brian--we ordered from
Posted by Tyler on October 26th, 2013 at 12:08 PM
Well i was here wanting to know about this mountain of foam but now i am here want to know about what is research paper, so like could you be able to manage the both of that here, it would be great if you could !
Posted by Lynelle on August 16th, 2018 at 5:26 AM