news21 Foamed concrete versus polystyrene blocks - September 2011

Foamed concrete versus polystyrene blocks – September 2011

Like foamed concrete, polystyrene blocks are a lightweight, strong and a durable alternative to traditional concrete applications. But because of their pre-shaped nature, they cannot meet all the specifications that the flexibility and versatility of foamed concrete applications will deliver every single time.


Manufactured through Propump’s inline foaming systems, that can produce upwards of 500m3 in a day, foamed concrete is delivered to site in a pumpable, fluid form, and easily flows into every crevice and gap to guarantee a tight and secure bond with the entire surrounding substrate.

With no storage space taken up on site, no cutting or shaping to fit and minimal waste – the application of foamed concrete is more cost effective and economical than the storage and use of polystyrene blocks.


Foamed concrete is produced using an innovative process which allows total control over each element, allowing much greater control over the final result and ensures the highest quality material is supplied. Produced with densities as low as 375kg/m3 in situ, foamed concrete can still provide strengths between 0.5 Newton/mm2 and 20 Newton/mm2


Polystyrene blocks can be shaped, cut or laminated for use in a variety of applications – including insulation, structural support and infills. However, as they come in a preselected size and shape, their use can be restricted by their very essence – the block.

Voids and spaces that require filling are very often of irregular sizes and shapes, making the choice of filling material a challenge. Where polystyrene blocks are not quite suitable, such as cellars, sewers and railway arches, foamed concrete fits the bill perfectly.


Polystyrene is available from anywhere between 20kg/m3 and 50kg/m3, making it lighter than foamed concrete, however compressive strengths are lower. It is possible to use a lightweight foamed concrete with a density as low as 300kg/m3 – that’s eight times lighter than conventional concrete, however these types of ultra low density need to be considered and attempted with care.


Foamed concrete forms a stable lightweight foundation and can be used to replace the weight of excavated soil with a similar (or lower) weight. As a result, foamed concrete can be used to create a stable structure that is resistant to any subsequent movement of the sub-strata.

Although polystyrene blocks offer many of the same benefits as foamed concrete, the versatility of the latter’s installation, its strength, and lightweight properties make it a superior solution for a wide range of applications.