Why Slopes Fail And How Geofoam Prevents This From Happening




Drive along highways, and you’ll sometimes notice slopes or inclined grounds. Slopes play a significant role in the development of highways, railway embankments, and canals because they are generally a more cost-effective option than retaining walls. However, this brings up several issues, be it artificial or natural, such as slope collapse. As a matter of fact, the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has deemed slope failure one of the most prevalent concerns in highway constructions. As such, we look into some of the reasons why slopes fail and how geofoam prevents slope failure.

Causes of Slope Failure

In most cases, the possibility for slope failure can be determined by four components: water content of the soil, the kind of soil, the soil’s stratification, and the geometry of the rock slope. Slopes collapse as it is unable to withstand pressure from external factors such as soil weight and high groundwater conditions. Slope failures can be attributed to a number of factors, including the following:

  • Excessive Amount of Water

When heavy rains or long duration of rainfall occur, water can seeped into the cracks of slopes, which causes the soil to naturally become heavier and saturated, pulling the slopes’ gravitational pull downward. This also applies to slopes situated near streams or sources of flowing water.

  • Erosion

Water and wind do not go along with slopes. Both of these earth’s elements can erode the top layer of slopes, causing it to become steep and more susceptible to collapsing over time.

  • Natural and Man-Made Conditions

At times, slope failures come about due to the nature of the environment. Natural disasters such as earthquakes can trigger a mass downward movement of soil, especially for hilly slopes, thus resulting in landslides. Humans can also be involved in slopes failing, even though it’s not intentional. Some activities like construction and excavation can weaken the slope, making it more prone to collapse.


How Geofoam Prevents Slope Failure

In recent years, geofoam has been a popular fill material for improving slope stability. This can be seen in many projects throughout the United States, such as the replacement of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge in Virginia and Alabama’s State Route 44. The main reasons are:

  • Decrease Slope Weight

EPS geofoam is incredibly lightweight, weighing only one percent of soil, which is around 110 to 120 pounds per cubic foot. It also has a low density. All these contribute to EPS geofoam not putting too much stress and load against the hillside, as well as lessening the pressure on the underlying soil, thus leading to a more stable slope.

  • Won’t Erode

While soil can be eroded, resulting in slope failure, EPS geofoam is not susceptible to such a problem. Not only is it strong, but EPS geofoam also boasts a high resistance to compression, allowing it to withstand harsh conditions. What’s more, due to its closed-cell structure, EPS geofoam can hinder moisture seepage and resist vibrations from natural disasters.

Why Geofoam Should Be Part Of Your Green Construction Projects

Green construction projects are booming, with an increased demand for buildings and structures that are environmentally responsible and utilizes resources efficiently. It’s important to stay in touch with climate change and the ever-changing state of the environment. Here are some reasons why geofoam should be used in your next eco-friendly project.

Increased Energy Efficiency

As the green construction industry flourishes, the demand for energy-efficient buildings is becoming widespread. In their aim towards LEEF certification, construction site managers are aiming to design the finest infrastructure with the smallest carbon footprint. Automated lighting, heating, and cooling systems, and smart house technologies are quickly becoming the new cornerstone for building development. Geofoam is increasingly being utilized to move towards the concept of sustainability, as well as to strengthen the foundation of energy efficiency. It is the preferred insulating material for projects like green roofs, pools, and general insulation. Geofoam aids in the reduction of energy loss as it is a lightweight and durable EPS material that serves as an effective thermal barrier, preventing internal and external air transfer.

Promotes Sustainability and Energy Conservation

Along with the rise in green construction comes the trend of engaging more sustainable and energy-conserving resources. Vegetative green roofs constructed with geofoam are one such example. Green roofs are completely or partially covered with plants grown on top of a waterproof membrane. In fact, some green roof designs include extra layers providing a root barrier, as well as a drainage and irrigation system. Geofoam has contributed to green roofing by assisting property owners and governments in developing planet-saving rooftop gardens that enhance air quality and produce for healthy living. Two other environmental advantages are stormwater management and temperature regulation. As for consumers, green roofs are good insulation, which lowers energy expenses and increases the roof’s lifespan, allowing them to save on replacement costs.

Withstands Extreme Weather Conditions

With climate change comes catastrophic weather conditions which have been occurring on a regular basis, wreaking havoc on both business and residential structures. Geofoam is being utilized more than ever before to construct structures that can withstand harsh and often unpredictable weather events like floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes. Insulated geofoam structures are much more resistant to emergency conditions as compared to stick-built structures. This material is also more resistant to strong winds and the detrimental effects of natural weather phenomenon. Furthermore, they are more resistant to earthquakes and fire as a result of the concrete structures they are built into.

Lessens Long-Term Environmental Impact

Geofoam blocks do not contain harmful dyes, formaldehyde, chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs). They will also not leech into the ground in the long term. The geofoam manufacturing process does not use or release potentially hazardous greenhouse gases. The process also includes steam, and the water involved is always reused. Geofoam is also 100% recyclable and can be made with up to 10% recycled materials. Using it in a project in place of a naturally derived material like rock and wood ultimately helps with sustainability efforts.

Use Geofoam in Your Next Project with Poly Molding

Poly Molding is New Jersey’s only geofoam manufacturer specializing in top-quality geofoam products across different sectors and industries. If you would like more information about geofoam and how to incorporate it into your green construction project, contact us and our team of experienced professionals will be able to advise you accordingly.

How Is Geofoam Used in Concrete Construction?

Have you already heard about why expanded polystyrene geofoam is so popular in the construction industry? If you have not, we would like to tell you all about this useful material and why it is so crucial in so many construction applications.

The convenience, flexibility, efficiency, and versatility that expanded polystyrene—also referred to as EPS—geofoam has contributed to the wide variety of construction applications has undoubtedly facilitated the transformation of the construction industry in numerous different ways. Expanded polystyrene geofoam has assumed the role of a better type of filling material, the physical attributes and properties of this unique material have also assisted in paving the way towards new kinds of innovation.

Expanded polystyrene geofoam has allowed landscape designers, engineers, builders, construction contractors, and architects to keep themselves in line with the latest, most innovative trends in their own respective industries. Allow us to tell you all about the wonders of using geofoam in concrete construction and how this material is revolutionizing the construction industry.

Expanded Polystyrene Geofoam is the Most Popular Kind of Lightweight Filling Material

Numerous different construction applications call for the use of filling material that is supportive and durable. For instance, traditional filling materials that are lightweight and have been utilized in embankment construction comprise materials such as cellular concrete, seashells, and sawdust. In an effort to lower the levels of strain that are exerted on surrounding environments, numerous engineers have begun to use lightweight filling materials to remedy such situations.

Its highly lightweight nature is more than capable of assisting in the reduction of manual labor and the minimization of any future maintenance works. This helps to ensure a much faster construction schedule. Not only is expanded polystyrene geofoam extremely lightweight, but it also possesses a low rate of moisture absorption and a very high level of compressive strength. This makes the material more than capable of withstanding compression and issues of wear and tear in the long term.

Expanded Polystyrene Geofoam Widens the Scope of Possibility in Construction

Expanded polystyrene geofoam has proven itself to be an extremely useful construction material that has multiple purposes. This is due to its low-density and lightweight physical characteristics, in conjunction with its high rate of compression. It is truly incredible how much efficiency and flexibility this material is capable of providing to builders, engineers, and architects.

Expanded polystyrene geofoam is utilized in a variety of different construction projects, such as insulation, slope stabilization, seating in stadiums, and road embankments, just to name a few. This material is capable of acting as a protective filling material that will provide protection against the potential damages that can be caused by extreme temperatures and shocks from earthquakes, among other external pressures and natural factors. This material is also able to serve as an effective dampener for ambient noises and vibrations.

The Expanding Role of EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) in Roofing Construction


Roof construction is one of the biggest and most significant disbursements that are made by owners of buildings. These important investments generally comprise of repair, maintenance, installation, insulation, a waterproofing membrane, and a roof deck. Designers of roof systems and contractors have been coming to the realization that roofing systems that make use of expanded polystyrene, which is also referred to as EPS, are capable of fulfilling building requirements that are highly demanding.

Expanded polystyrene is a resilient, lightweight, closed-cell insulation made of foamed plastic. It can offer dimensional stability, robust resistance to water, a long-term R-value, and substantial savings on energy expenditures when it is installed in a proper way and protected from the effects of moisture. Expanded polystyrene insulation is a good match with all the commercial roofing systems. Some examples of these expanded polystyrene-compatible roofing systems are modified bitumen, built-up roof, which is also referred to as BUR, and one-ply membrane systems that are fully adhered, mechanically fastened, or ballasted.

Applications of Expanded Polystyrene

Now, you might be wondering: what are the exact applications of expanded polystyrene, in terms of roof systems? Allow us to elaborate!

Tapered Roof Systems

Insulation for a tapered roof can assume an important role in the good and proper draining of roofing systems, which is highly essential to optimal levels of longevity and performance. The poor and improper drainage of commercial roofing systems can lead to damage that is much more severe than natural events such as strong winds or other types of natural phenomena. Freezing and thawing cycles, along with the ponding of water, have the potential to lead to expensive repair works and perhaps even the premature failure of a roofing system, which is very infrequently covered by insurance or under warranty. Tapered EPS insulation is capable of providing the positive slope that is needed while maintaining the economic and structural benefits that come with a roof deck with a low slope.

Built-Up Roof (BUR)

Expanded polystyrene has been consistently utilized in the applications of built-up roof systems for a period of over three decades. Built-up roof systems that are made with roof decks of concrete will allow for roof insulation to be directly applied to a deck. This is because there is not a need for a thermal barrier, which is due to the concrete deck that is not combustible. Expanded polystyrene foam can be joined to concrete with asphalt by using a technique that is referred to as the “mop and flop.”

Asphalt that has been heated to a high temperature is applied directly to the concrete deck, and it is then allowed to slightly cool, prior to the foam being permanently put in place. After this is done, a cover board is then “mopped and flopped” directly onto the expanded polystyrene insulation, with the joints taped and overlapping. Asphalt is then applied again on the top of the cover board, and this will provide a consistent and uniform base for the weatherproofing system.

Suitable Alternative

The current shortage in other insulating materials like Polyisocyanurate (poly-iso) insulation have made EPS a sustainable and efficient alternative.

Engineered EPS (Expanded Polystyrene) insulation is a suitable Poly-iso replacement. EPS provides several technical advantages over Poly-iso. Some contractors may claim that Poly-iso has a greater R-value, which is true when talking about published R-value, but Service R-value is a different story. Poly-iso’s R-value drops considerably as it ages, according to Long-Term Thermal Performance (LTTP). Further research has revealed that the R-value of Poly-iso falls when the temperature drops, which is when R-value is most needed. When it gets cold, EPS’s R-value changes only by increasing its effectiveness. This is only one of the many advantages of EPS vs Poly-iso.

Meet All Your Insulation Needs with Poly Molding

Poly Molding is New Jersey’s sole geofoam/EPS manufacturer and specializes in the supply and implementation of EPS products across different sectors and industries. Contact our team of experienced professionals if you are interested to find out more about Roofing insulation and how to incorporate it into your next project.

Frequently Asked Questions About EPS Geofoam

Geofoam is garnering widespread praise for its stability, reliability and longevity in the context of construction. Geofoam is now considered to be one of the top materials used for the construction and support of piers and other water-based structures.

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