Foam cement: It’s not only about bricks

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True, Styrofoam bricks are wonderful, but you shouldn’t get hung up on bricks. The real magic is in the foam cement itself. There are many things you can do with the stuff. Let’s start by reviewing the winning virtues of foam cement itself.

Why is foam cement cool?
Foam cement has many virtues best divided into three categories: environmental, material and social.

1. Foam cement’s environmental virtues
• Foam cement
o Removes Styrofoam from the environment for a long time
o Provides quick and easy roof insulation to cut energy use and costs
o Can provide low-cost sound and thermal insulation for buildings

2. Foam cement’s material virtues
• Foam cement is:
o A great thermal and sound insulator
o Heat and fire resistant
o Cheap
o Easy to use

3. Foam cement’s social virtues
• Foam cement is
o Light
o Easy to make and form
o A perfect microenterprise product for the elderly and disabled

Things you can do foam cement

1. Add low-cost insulation to a building’s roof to cut energy costs

Many buildings have flat roofs, most of which are black. They absorb lots of heat as the sun shines on them all day long. That heat radiates down into spaces below and is retained long into the night by the building’s mass.

Residents can be either very uncomfortable or pay a huge amount for air conditioning. Solution? Pour a thin layer of light foam cement (2-3 inches/5-8 cm) across the roof. This will reduce heat penetration to near zero.

Detail of styrofoam cement roof laid on biochar lab tin roof for insulation

To be certain that you have no weight problems, put metal flashing around the edges and paint the cement with polyurethane. If you really want to do the job right, put a coat of white paint on top of the urethane to increase reflectance.

2. Construct a super-insulated, low energy cost, one- or two-story building

Where we live and work, most houses and small buildings use cement columns to support upper floors and the roof. Bricks only fill in the empty spaces between the columns.

Without building codes that consider the environment, few buildings are constructed with insulation. Most modern buildings today use the cheapest possible materials, cinder blocks that provide no thermal insulation at all, making them uncomfortably hot or cold depending on the season.

Replacing the cinder blocks with foam cement bricks will reduce costs and provide tremendous insulation. A building constructed with foam cement bricks should be comfortable year around. Foam cement bricks will also minimize energy costs if the resident choses to air condition or heat.

3. Insulate a structure against highway sounds

As traffic increases everywhere, the 24 hour a day roar has become a major concern to anyone who works or lives near a big road.

Constructed without insulation, existing buildings – and new construction, too – does nothing to dull the sound.

A low cost, fast, Do It Yourself solution is to glue foam cement panels to the outer walls of a building and paint. The result will be a sharp reduction in noise pollution and lower energy bills.

4. Save energy and energy costs by insulating your building against the sun

Because buildings a meant to last a long time, most people live and work in structures that were constructed long before anyone thought of insulation.

Where we live, this means that our homes and workplaces get very hot during the day as they absorb energy from the sun. They stay hot long into the night, too, as their “thermal mass” (think all that cement) retains heat that it “gives back” after the sun sets.

If you air condition your house or office, you are, therefore, fighting not only the hot air outside; you are also fighting the heat of the sun that your building is soaking up.

What to do? Well, the first step is obviously to put a foam cement “hat” on your building (see above).

But after that, what?

Why not lay a second foam brick wall along the existing walls of your building that face the sun? The bricks are cheap and super insulating.

Combined with the hat, you should see a notable reduction in temperatures inside your building – and an equally pleasurable reduction in the electricity bill!

So how do you make styrofoam cement?

Easy! Just follow our step by step directions to make styrofoam cement.

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