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Topic: is block foam insulation better than the pink stuff ??

Posted By: Bright Stars on 02/23/08 10:32pm

Am getting ready to order a new 5er. Been awhile. Going to dog agility trials. Need to keep unit cool longer when sitting in hot sun in early summer. Also warm on early winter days. North Trail (new) from Heartland has block foam insulation. Crossroads Cruiser has the pink stuff. Anyone ever notice much difference ??
Any feed back appreciated - on units also. 26' long units.
3 floorplans - like pieces of each.

Posted By: cm on 02/23/08 11:13pm

Without knowing the type of insulation the terms block foam and the pink stuff are almost meaningless. To say that the insulation is pink only tells you one thing. That the manfuacturer of the insulation is Owens Corning.

Owens Corning uses the pink color as their marketing color. For a lot of years they have used the cartoon character the Pink Panther in their advertising and product labels. The pink stuff could be fiberglass batts R-3.14 to R-3.8 per inch, expanded polystyrene - bead board R-4 per inch, or extruded polystyrene R-5 per inch. Owens corning produces all three types in the pink color.

The "block foam" insulation that you mention Heartland uses is probably bead board - R-4 per inch. This is the most common foam board insulation used by RV manufacturers. If you see a piece of the insulation you will see it has a small pebble like or beed like structure. It is the least expensive and that is why it is commonly used.

The thickness of the total insulation and the R-value will mean more than the description block foam or the pink stuff.

Posted By: dirtengineer on 02/23/08 11:16pm

If you mean better by more insulating, just look at the R value. More is better.

If you mean better in other ways, the board isn't as effected by moisture and tends to be more durable.

Posted By: creeper on 02/23/08 11:17pm

The block insulation is used in lots of RVs.

Posted By: javaseuf on 02/24/08 02:37am

I have removed the aluminum siding off of a number of trailers over the years, only to find the fiberglass insulation had slide down and left many voids in the wall.

Posted By: RetiredGuy on 02/24/08 04:30am

I know of 3 kinds of insulation used in RVs (there are probably more). The first is fiberglass batting like that used in home construction. It doesn't work very well because as Steve pointed out, the vibration in an RV can cause it to slide down leaving places with no insulation. The second is styrofoam blocks. This is the same stuff used to make things like coffee cups. While better than fiberglass batting, it is not great. The method of construction is the same as batting. In other words, it is used to fill the space in the walls but it adds no strength and over time it will absorb moisture and lose some of its insulation rating. The third is the dense foam such as Blue Dow Foam. This stuff is stronger then styrofoam and the same thickness has a higher R rating. Some manufacturers glue the inside and outside skin directly to the blue foam creating a much stronger wall. NuWa is one such manfacturer.

If you would be comfortable in a tent, then the kind of insulation doesn't make much difference. However, if staying cooler in hot weather and warmer in cold weather are important, my vote is for the dense foam such as Blue Dow.

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Posted By: Bumpyroad on 02/24/08 05:44am

in case of a leak, the pink stuff will soak up water won't it?

Posted By: Dave J on 02/24/08 06:16am

BUT!!!! the R value styrofoam of is surprisingly LITTLE!! 2" of foam board only has a R value of 2 maybe 3 where 6" fiberglas (can be compacted) has a R value of maybe 13. I always had assumed it'd be the other way around but found out different!!
If you get water in where there is the pink stuff and its styrofoam instead, what have ya got?? kinda like saying I'd rather have aluminum it don't rust!! but it darn sure corrodes!! take your RV down to S. Padre Island or Key West for a month then tell me what ya got!
The materials all have their own advantages I reckon!

AND BumpyRoad, LOOK at how simular our maps are!!! seems we might ought to have "crossed paths" some where along the way!!

* This post was edited 02/24/08 06:29am by Dave J *

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Posted By: Dick_B on 02/24/08 07:44am

Are these the only two brands you are looking at? There might be even a better made (insulated) model out there eg. one made more for four seasons.
Try for their ratings on 5ers.

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Posted By: Bright Stars on 02/24/08 07:56am

OK - we are talking about 2" aluminum frames all 6 sides both units with fiberglass sides. I said the pink stuff because everyone understands what that is. Actually it is yellow, but it is the same stuff. Yes, the Heartland uses the bead board laminated foam board on their walls.

javaseuf - I remember the older units had problems with the fiberglass sliding down - but I thought/assumed all that stopped when they started spraying glue on the walls and then sticking the fiberglass insulation to it. Do you still see those problems ??

Retired Guy - I was not aware that bead board insulation could/would absorb water. Interesting. I can understand why the Dow Blue Board would be better and Nu Way makes some nice coaches. But I am limited to short (parking) and light (muddy parking areas) and want mid profile. At least 2 of those (last time I looked) lets Nu Way out. However - as someone said last night about insulating their units for winter camping - on units that do not have bead foam block insulation under the bath and part of the bedroom - a good fall project is to add that type of insulation in those exposed areas.
And I hate it when they have all these exposed furnace ducts in the storage area, especially under the front where you can see right out - why do they think I need to insulate that area ??

Bumpy - in case of a leak - with fiberglass made the way it is, I don't think it absorbs water. I think the water runs thru it - but it will stay glumped up and wet until there is some place for the water to get out. Then come to think of it (with problem here at the house this year) the fiberglass will stay matted and not fluffy.

Dave J - It has always been told to me that when you smash more fiberglass insulation into a space that you start losing insulating power as you are eliminating the air gaps that are part of the insulating work. And they have always said they cannot correctly measure R vlaue in foam.

IMHO - The best would be bubble foil wrap over either one. But there is only a little bit of that done and then on high end big, long, heavy, full time units and that lets me out for now.

Posted By: Bright Stars on 02/24/08 07:57am

Hey Dave J - if I go to S Padre Island for a month - which do you say will be better ?? Thanks

Posted By: Bright Stars on 02/24/08 08:00am

Dick B - thanks - I'll check it out. Those have been the only 2 brands that I have found that fit - short - mid profile - aerodynamic - light weight - fiberglass siding - alminum frame

Posted By: lazyboy on 02/24/08 08:21am

If you go to Lowe's or Home Depot you will see that Rigid board or block as you call it has a higher R value per inch than fiberglass. Rigid will not sag or soak up water and actually makes for a stronger wall.
Blue board is probably the best. If you do a search you can see Rigid board has an R value of 3-5 per inch. If you take R19 fiberglass which is mfg. for a 6" wall and compact it to a 3" or 4" wall you will loose R value That is why the R-11 says for 2 x 4 wall and R 19 says for 2 x 6 wall. I think some of the fiberglass has increased to R 13 and R 21 for walls. So your looking at 1 1/2" or 2" max for an RV.
I would go with Blue board if I had the choice.[emoticon]

Posted By: kakampers on 02/24/08 08:26am

We've owned both types. Holiday Rambler with "batten" or "the pink/yellow stuff", and now a Heartland Bighorn with the vacuum bonded, bead foam insulated walls. There is no comparision. The Heartland wins hands down. We have been much warmer this winter than last and it keeps alot cooler in hot weather without the a/c running constantly! We've also noticed we've used much less propane this winter as compared to last with the HR.

For us it's a no brainer...vacuum bonded, bead foam walls from now on!!

2013 Heartland Landmark Key Largo with Mor Ryde IS and disc brakes
2011 Chevy Silverado 3500 DRW Crew Cab Duramax Diesel

Posted By: Bumpyroad on 02/24/08 10:42am

Dave J wrote:

BUT!!!! the R value styrofoam of is surprisingly LITTLE!! 2" of foam board only has a R value of 2 maybe 3 where 6" fiberglas (can be compacted) has a R value of maybe 13. I always had assumed it'd be the other way around but found out different!!
If you get water in where there is the pink stuff and its styrofoam instead, what have ya got?? kinda like saying I'd rather have aluminum it don't rust!! but it darn sure corrodes!! take your RV down to S. Padre Island or Key West for a month then tell me what ya got!
The materials all have their own advantages I reckon!

AND BumpyRoad, LOOK at how simular our maps are!!! seems we might ought to have "crossed paths" some where along the way!!

almost eerie. but you missed the two good ones, MN and WI.
bumpy [emoticon]

Posted By: cm on 02/24/08 11:28am

Unfortunately, several of the answers posted about the types of insulation are incorrect or have answers with mixed up terminology.

There is no product that is correctly called styrofoam (small s). The Dow Chemical Company produces the Styrofoam brand which is extruded polystyrene (XPS). Styrofoam is a specific brand and is not a generic term describing any type of foam insulation. Dow Chemical uses blue as their marketing color for Styrofoam. That is why many people in the construction industry refer it to it a blue board or Dow board. But Dow also produces foam board with higher R-Values than Styrofoam - polyisocyanurate with a R-6.5 per inch.

Owens Corning markets their pink extruded polystyrene under the brand name of Foamular. Extruded polysytrene (XPS) is rated R-5 per inch. Bead board (EPS) is rated R-4 per inch.

Coffee cups and coolers are not made with Styrofoam - extruded polystyrene (XPS). They are made with expanded polystyrene - bead board (EPS). You cannot mould extruded polystyrene into shapes.

Dave J’s numbers on R-Values of foam board are not the accepted R-Values used by the various manufacturers. Also compacting fiberglass reduces the R-Value and still has the same problems of fiberglass batts on of which is absorbing and holding moisture.

And when you talk about compacting fiberglass batts you need to remember that the thickness of the wall cavity in a RV is not near as thick as a wall in residential construction. Due to nominal sizing of construction lumber the thickness is 1/2” smaller. A 2 x 4 wall is a 3 1/2” cavity. A 2 x 6 wall is a 5 1/2” cavity. The usual RV construction is only about 1 1/2” or 2” thick. R-Value per inch gives a better comparison.

As far as the bubble foil being the best that is open to debate. Astrofoil and Reflectix are two brands of bubble foil insulation. There has been some studies that say that the R-values claimed for bubble foil are sometimes overrated. The manufacturers in their installation instructions say that you should have a 1/2” to 3/4” of air space when you install these and the RV manufacturers do not usually leave any space. This reduces the R-Value.

Another choice in foam board would be using polyisocyanurate foam board. Polyiso is usually rated at R-6.5 per inch.

The best insulation would probably be injected urethane foam like Bigfoot uses in their 3000 Series motor homes and pick up campers. With the newer blowing agents it is rated at R-6.5 per inch and because it is sprayed it seals better.

Using the common incorrect terms for insulation does not help anything. The incorrect information just confuses the issues. I have toured 10 RV manufacturing plants and even some of the company employees don’t know the correct names for the insulation they are using.

If not using the correct terms is not important then we can just call all pickup trucks the same because they have an 8 foot bed. Brand name or half ton or one ton isn’t important as long as the truck has a 8 foot bed.

Posted By: frank henn on 02/24/08 12:04pm

The Crossroads normal insulation is R7 When I ordered our new unit we got the upgraded Insulation package, and the 15K AC. They now have the insulated glass that I would have ordered had I known about it. Have camped out in all kinds of weather this winter have been real comfortable

Posted By: Bright Stars on 02/24/08 01:16pm

Sorry CM for not using the exactly correct words.
Have spent the morning going over all the manufacturers I could find.
Units too tall, mostly too long or too high $$$.
So having just learned more about the Sundance XLT from Heartland - it still comes back to the North Trail/Sundance XLT from Heartland (bead board insulation) or Cruiser from Crossroads with fiberglass batts.
With DH still having his MH that I can't/won't use, I'm still having trouble justifying this purchase. Pluses & minuses with each like with windows that do or not open and the more $$ for the Heartland make the decision even more difficult.

Posted By: johncrazyels on 02/24/08 04:33pm

The type of insulation is obviously important, but other factors are equally if not more important, e.g., amount of insulation in the roof (50% of heat loss); the amount of insulation in the floor (25% of heat loss); size and number of windows (compare the large windows on a Titanium to those on a HitchHiker); the exterior colours of the trailer (large, dark graphics will suck in the heat); the range of temperatures in which the trailer will be used; the cleanliness of the roof, etc., etc.

Posted By: sirdrakejr on 02/24/08 04:38pm

If the foam is yellow it is probably injected urethane expanding foam which is better since it fills the cavities and wont loosen up.

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