What is the cost of continuous insulation for commercial buildings?

December 28, 2016 anthony

What is the cost of spray foam insulation used as commercial continuous insulation?

Most of us, at one time, have encountered the constraints of a design and construction budget. Whether commercial or residential, the cost of materials and services often impacts the end result of a building’s design as well as its functionality. Sometimes this means a compromise in the design or sourcing a cheaper alternative to meet the budget constraints.

Like other building materials, so too does the cost of continuous insulation for commercial buildings have an impact on the overall construction budget.   When considering a continuous insulation product for commercial buildings, a common choice is XPS rigid foam board. Standard pre-cut rigid foam panels are fastened to the exterior of a wall with fasteners penetrating at regular intervals.  Once affixed to the wall, all the joints are sealed or taped. 

According to building construction cost research data compiled by R.S. Means in 2014, the cost of a continuous insulation application using XPS rigid foam board in a CMU masonry wall assembly totals $34.30 per square foot (installed cost).  The breakdown of each component includes:

1/2” Gypsum Wallboard, Taped and Finished                      $1.55

8” CMU                                                                                        $11.45

Polyethylene and Rubberized Asphalt Sheet Barrier          $2.78

3” Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) Insulation (R-15)                   $2.42

Brick Veneer                                                                               $16.10

The research data also shows that the same materials in a steel frame assembly totals $29.31 per square foot (installed cost), with the breakdown as follows:

1/2” Gypsum Wallboard, Taped and Finished                      $1.55

Metal Stud & Track, 16” O.C.                                                    $4.58

Gypsum Sheathing with Embedded Glass Mats                  $1.88

Polyethylene and Rubberized Asphalt Sheet Barrier          $2.78

3” Extruded Polystyrene (XPS) Insulation (R-15)                   $2.42

Brick Veneer                                                                               $16.10

Are there any alternatives for continuous insulation products?

While XPS rigid foam board is a commonly specified continuous insulation product, there are alternative continuous insulation products available for consideration. Increasing awareness of spray foam insulation used as continuous insulation in commercial buildings has allowed designers to include a product that  not only offers better performance, but is also cost effective.

The 2014 research data from R.S. Means shows that the cost of a continuous insulation application using closed cell spray foam in a CMU masonry wall adds up to $31.93 (compared to $34.30) per square foot (installed cost). The breakdown of each component includes:

1/2” Gypsum Wallboard, Taped and Finished                       $1.55

8” CMU                                                                                         $11.45

3” Closed-Cell Spray Polyurethane Insulation (R-15)            $2.83

Brick Veneer                                                                                $16.10

The savings per square foot found within this assembly can quickly add up and make a positive, noticeable impact on your client’s construction budget.

There are savings to be found in a steel frame assembly too. The total installed cost per square foot in a steel frame assembly is $26.94 compared to $29.31, with the breakdown per component as follows:

1/2” Gypsum Wallboard, Taped and Finished                      $1.55

Metal Stud & Track, 16” O.C.                                                    $4.58

Gypsum Sheathing with Embedded Glass Mats                   $1.88

3” Closed-Cell Spray Polyurethane Insulation (R-15)            $2.83

Brick Veneer                                                                                $16.10

It is important to note that the costs and details above are aimed at providing a general cost comparison of commercial air barrier assemblies designed with foam plastic insulation materials of the same thickness, other costs such as scaffolding (which can vary) are not included.

Additionally, some rigid foam board products may offer installation techniques allowing for the elimination of some of these generic assembly components such as Gypsum sheathing with embedded glass mats. It is recommended that you work with manufacturers for specific details pertaining to your design/project.

Yet, as you can see, there are opportunities to find high performance, cost effective alternatives that help your designs stay within budget and offer you the opportunity to ensure that your design vision comes to fruition without compromise.

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