What Is ISO Board Insulation?
ISO board insulation originally used chlorofluorocarbons as its blowing agent, which has harmful environmental effects. Now, it uses pentane, which negates these. Keep reading to find out more about ISO board insulation, its uses, and sustainable benefits.
What Is ISO Board Insulation?
ISO board insulation, also called polyiso or polyisocyanurate insulation, is a type of rigid foam insulation material used in approximately 70% of commercial roof systems. ISO board insulation is a major component of modified bitumen roofs, built-up roofs (BUR), and single-ply roofs. Its superior insulation capabilities have given it a reputation as a cost-effective, energy-reducing continuous insulation solution.
What Is ISO Board Insulation Made Of?
ISO board insulation is composed of four main elements: methylene diphenyl diisocyanate (MDI), polyol, flame retardant, and a blowing agent. Pentane is used as a blowing agent because it has zero ozone depletion and global warming potential (GWP).
These four substances are mixed with catalysts and surfactants, creating an exothermic reaction that causes the blowing agent to bubble and boil. This process produces small, gas-filled cells that give ISO boards their excellent thermal resistance and insulation.
During the manufacturing process, facers are added to help the foam board insulation maintain its shape while also improving its durability. Plywood, aluminum foil, and coated glass are a few examples of facers. They improve durability and provide a layer of separation between the insulation and other components of the roofing system. This prevents degradation and improves the lifespan of the insulation board.
History of ISO Board Insulation
When polyisocyanurate was first introduced into the roofing industry in the 1970s, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) were used as the blowing agent. This is before it was known that they are harmful to the atmosphere.
Around the same time, though, concerns were rising about the effects of industry on the environment. In 1987, the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer was signed. This protocol included a plan to phase out both the production and consumption of CFCs. In 1992, all commercial production of CFCs was cut off.
Soon after, the Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association (PIMA) was created to find new, ozone-friendly alternatives to CFCs. They eventually settled on using pentane as a blowing agent, which, as mentioned earlier, has an inconsequential effect on the ozone layer.
As you can see, modern ISO board insulation has been used as a sustainable alternative to environmentally-harmful roofing materials since its inception.
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Benefits of ISO Board Insulation
ISO board insulation offers a number of benefits to any commercial roof system. Below, we’ll explore some of the key factors that make it one of the most effective insulation products on the market.
R-value is a way to measure a material’s resistance to heat exchange. ISO board insulation has one of the highest R-values of any insulation material, making it an ideal choice for any roofing application. Here’s how it stacks up against other insulation products and building materials:
- Insulation Material
- Graphite Polystyrene (GPS)
- Extruded Polystyrene (XPS)
- Expanded Polystyrene (EPS)
- Mineral Wool
- R-Value per Inch
R-value is calculated by dividing the thickness of the insulation material by its thermal conductivity. As you can see, ISO board insulation is one of the most effective insulation products.
Great Performance on Fire Tests
ISO board insulation is a great choice for commercial roofs because of how fire resistant it is. As mentioned above, flame retardant is one of the four main components of polyiso insulation—fire resistance is literally built into the insulation material.
Moreover, ISO board insulation passes both the FM 4450 calorimeter flame test and the UL 1256 resistance to interior spread of flame test. Although both of these tests are used to assess the fuel contribution of roofing material to an internal flame, the FM 4450 is much more stringent and relates only to insulated metal roof systems. It tests for wind uplift, live load resistances, corrosion of metal parts, and fatigue of plastic parts, while the UL 1256 tests only for under-deck fire resistance.
Because ISO board insulation offers a significantly better R-value per inch than other insulation materials, it’s considered to be one of the most cost-effective insulation options.
ISO boards also help you cut down on heating and cooling costs. With less heat transfer between your internal environment, roofing materials, and the outside world, your HVAC system has to do less work to maintain a stable internal temperature. This also allows your building to be more energy efficient. With ISO board insulation, you won’t be paying to heat the outside.
Low Water Absorption and Vapor Transmission
Water is often your roof’s greatest threat. If it is allowed to permeate your roofing material, it can cause rot and structural damage. That’s why you need an insulation material that doesn’t absorb water or allow water vapor to pass through it.
ISO board insulation has a closed-cell structure and moisture-resistant foam core that prevent water and water vapor from penetrating it. This ensures that your insulation is aiding in your roof’s fight against the elements, not working against it.
High Compression Strength
Another advantage of ISO board insulation is its high compression strength. For commercial flat roofs, compression strength is an important factor to consider because foot traffic can easily damage your roofing materials and substrate. As such, you need a material that can withstand foot traffic. If you’re up on your roof inspecting it for damages, ISO board insulation reduces the possibility of you damaging it further.
Floridian Roofing and Solar: Your Roofing Solution
At Floridian Roofing & Solar, we’re dedicated to providing you with long-lasting, high-quality roofs that can survive any type of weather. If you’re not sure if ISO board insulation is the right material for your roof, contact us today for a free roof inspection. We’ll help you find the right roofing solution for your business.
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Floridian Roofing & Solar is a full-service provider of commercial and residential roofing services. We use our 20 years of experience to put a durable roof over your head.