Applications, Design & Construction Considerations for EPS Geofoam

Originally posted on CE News online in Progressive Engineering

Geofoam: A lightweight fill alternative

Pacific Bridge

To widen the Pacific Street Bridge over I-680 in Omaha, Neb., Hawkins Construction excavated the soil between the existing abutment wall using EPS geofoam as lightweight backfill for the bridge approach.

Geofoam is a rigid, engineered, lightweight fill material typically made of expanded polystyrene (EPS). For fills, a key advantage of EPS geofoam is its low weight — approximately 1 to 2 percent the weight of soil. Typical densities for EPS fill are between 0.7 and 2.85 pounds per cubic foot, therefore maintaining a predictable compressive strength that is suitable for many structural applications (see “Geofoam physical properties”).

Today, geofoam is fully recognized and accepted as a lightweight fill alternative and has seen increased use in commercial and residential applications. Since the first installation of geofoam in 1965 (see “A short history of geofoam”), numerous projects around the world that have relied on the material to solve construction problems.

Given EPS geofoam’s low weight, strength, and ease of use, more project teams are using it to solve regular construction challenges in five basic applications.  Read the full article featured on CE NEWS as our Geofoam Specialist, Nico, discusses:

  • The five basic applications and specific project examples:  1.)  Lateral load reductions on structures  2.)  Soft soil remediation  3.)  Slope stabilization  4.)  Lateral and dead load reductions over buried utilities  5.)  Lightweight structural void fill.
  • Geofoam physical properties
  • Short history of geofoam
  • Construction considerations
  • Cost saving advantages

Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Geofoam Vs. Traditional Fill

Public Works_2013 cover photo

2013 Public Works Magazine

Developed in the 1960’s as an engineered geotechnical material, expanded polystyrene (EPS) geofoam performs well in numerous applications and was designated by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) as a “priority, market-ready technology” in 2006.  As outlined in the spring 2013 Public Works magazine annual reference “Manual”, geofoam is 100% recyclable and non-toxic and it’s lightweight fill is used to reduce vertical stresses beneath embankments and lateral stresses on retaining walls, abutments, or foundations.  

Read more in the Public Works magazine:

  • geofoam defining properties
  • how to choose a geofoam supplier
  • per-cubic-yard costs of various fills
  • public works applications
  • key benefits
  • EPS goefoam cost vs. other fills

Read more on Geofoam:


Nico Sutmoller, Insulfoam Geofoam Specialist

Nico Sutmoller, Insulfoam Geofoam Specialist

Contact Nico Sutmoller, Geofoam Specialist

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