Achieving Continuous Insulation in Exterior Walls

In the face of rising energy costs, most home and business owners want to find ways to help lower their energy usage. Smart thermostats and ultra efficient appliances have become standard across the globe. However, these are only two pieces of a much larger puzzle that affect the way a building uses energy.

In most cases, simply having an efficient system isn’t enough; you also need to stop air and energy transfer through the walls. This is usually accomplished through the addition of insulation on the exterior walls.

Unfortunately, in most framed buildings, only 70 to 80 percent of a building’s exterior can be insulated when using standard insulating procedures. The framing that makes up the other 20 to 30 percent of the exterior will transfer energy at a different rate, lowering the overall efficiency of the building’s insulation.

This is why the construction industry has seen a massive rise in continuous insulation rather than only insulating between the frames.

Understanding Continuous Insulation

Kooltherm Continuous Insulation - Kinzie

In most traditionally framed buildings, the insulation is put between the framing joints, leaving the framed areas exposed. Metal and wood frames transfer energy at faster rates than the insulated areas, which allows energy to move out of the building faster and lowering its efficiency.

With continuous insulation, even the framed areas of the building are insulated. Premium products like Kingspan Kooltherm Insulation Board has a high R-value per inch, ideal for northern climate zones and where space is limited. GreenGuard XPS Insulation Board will insulate continuously around the exterior, which helps with energy efficiency in the building. This provides a tighter building envelope, and helps prevent energy loss.

Addressing Continuous Insulation Issues

commercial solutions

To achieve continuous insulation, other issues need to be addressed as well. For example, the goal is to create a tight building envelope. This can be accomplished by installing a breathable building wrap, such as Kingspan’s GreenGuard Building Wrap, which would be used in conjunction with the insulation. These building wraps create an airtight enclosure while still allowing moisture to escape.

It is important to install enough continuous insulation to control the dew point in the wall cavity. A simple condensation analysis can ensure that the level of insulation is enough to help prevent interior wall condensation.

Many traditional claddings can be applied directly over continuous insulation. Generally, if your cladding is more than 1-1/2” thick, there are technical support documents to provide guidance on bracing for cladding.

Continuous Insulation for Better Performance

Single Family Home Green Guard

Using continuous insulation on exterior walls can help increase the R-value of the structure, and improve the energy efficiency of the entire building. While there are a few additional concerns to address such as moisture management and exterior cladding, in most cases the benefits of creating a tight building envelope will far outweigh any additional concerns or needed materials.

By insulating over the frame of the building, rather than around it, you stop energy transfer and help to create a more efficient building overall. Look into achieving continuous insulation on your next project to help create a successful, more sustainable and higher-performing building design.

Kingspan Insulation North America

Head Office & Sales Office – North America

Kingspan Insulation LLC

2100 Riveredge Parkway, Suite 175

Atlanta, Georgia



Call: +1(800) 241 4402