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Old 10-28-2010, 11:33 AM   #1
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How to attach insulation panels to block wall

I've got a basement I want to insulate with extruded polystyrene (XPS) panels. Most of these XPS panels will be covered by wood frame walls. I need suggestions as to how these XPS panels should be attached to the concrete block walls. Once the frame wall is up, that should hold the panel upright. But I understand that a tight seal between the block wall and the XPS is desirable. I'm wondering if there is some sort of adhesive that I could use. The block wall is not perfectly smooth, so the adhesive might have to span small gaps in some places.

My alternative solution is to use concrete screws in drilled pilot holes, but I fear that would ruin the vapor barrier provided by the XPS panels.

Any suggestions and comments would be most appreciated.
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Old 10-28-2010, 12:30 PM   #2
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There are adhesives manufactured specifically used for Foam insulation.
Check your local hardware supplier.

DO NOT USE regular construction adhesive before reading the label. Many of them will destroy the foam.
The type you need will declare that it can be used for plastics.
Short of cutting off a body part, the worst that can happen in woodworking is manufacturing really nice looking kindling. --- Quoted from lenaitch
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Old 10-28-2010, 04:21 PM   #3
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PL300 for foam worked for me.
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Old 10-29-2010, 04:01 PM   #4
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I did this myself and the stud walls do not touch the foam. Even if I wanted them to they are not always able to if they are bowed or my block wall is off here and there.

Use PL300 foam safe adhesive. Use one $3.5 tube per two 2X8' sheets of foam. You may need to temporarily hold the sheets against the block until they cure (I'd wait overnight and then relieve the pressure but that may be overkill,I've found it takes a good 24 hours at least for full strength of this stuff in an unpainted block wall [yes I tested]). If you don't want to do that (I didn't), you could also use 2 3/4 3/16" tapcon screws with as big a washer as you can get (but small enough hole for the screw's head to hold) and after gluing put two of these per sheet to hold against the wall, but you will be piercing your blocks.

I'd also put a bead of the glue along each edge of the sheet where they key into each other, it will help keep them together and I think limit air that gets through any gaps that may form over time if your taped edges fail.

Most people recommend tyvek house wrap tape for edges. I think foil tape is better and easier to mold around unevenness.

My block wall wasn't perfect, either. The reality is that there will be air spaces behind foam unless it's against a wall created by God Himself, and there is no way around it. More important is to seal the edges and transition points, like from joist area to wall.

I suppose the screw holds could cause issues with the vapor barrier and you could pre-fill them with silicone if you wanted to. to be honest with you I remember last winter on a cold day noticing very small bits of condensation on the washers on the inside of my screwed stuff. The cold transfers through the screw into the washer. I may end up squirting bits of foam over these ends or even just removing them now that everything as cured.

Last edited by Skoorb; 10-29-2010 at 04:04 PM.
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