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The Cost of EPS Geofoam
How Much Does Geofoam Cost?

2011 Cost comparison of construction methods for highway widening on compressible subgrade (2.42MB)

Average EPS Cost: $50-$100 per cubic yard (Per Marvin Cook of AES)

What is the goal of design and construction of highway embankments over soft ground?

The goal is to provide an adequate transportation facility at the lowest overall life-cycle cost.

Life-Cycle Costs Include:

  • Design costs
  • Construction costs
  • Right-of-way costs
  • Routine maintenance costs
  • Periodic maintenance and
  • Rehabilitation costs
  • Operating costs
  • Accident costs
  • Users' cost

               - Pavement smoothness

               - Foundation stability during construction

               - Tolerable post construction total and differential settlements

               - Hazards caused by maintenance operations and potential failures

  • Inconvenience
  • Environmental aspects
  • Aesthetic aspects

“When all of these factors are evaluated, an  alternative with a higher initial material or total cost,  e.g. Geofoam, may prove to be the best alternative. NCHRP Document 65 (Project 24-11) Chapter 12-2

What is cost-benefit analysis?

A cost-benefit analysis considers the intangible consequences or impacts of an alternative in addition to the tangible costs and benefits. These intangible consequences may be required to perform an adequate cost comparison.

How do you incorporate cost-benefit analysis?

To incorporating the intangible benefits into a life-cycle or cost-benefit analysis involves trying to quantify the benefits. For example, the benefit of reduced construction time can be quantified by estimating the value that travelers place on travel time savings during periods of heavy congestion and incorporating the benefit into a life-cycle or cost benefit analysis.

When is reducing construction time important?

  • When soft ground treatment is unanticipated during the construction phase
  • If the section of roadway or bridge approach that is to be treated affects the critical path of the construction schedule.
  • When remedial treatment procedures such as stabilization by preloading may require several months to more than a year to complete.
  • Maintenance and construction costs often increase as the time available for construction decreases.

What has happened in recent years?

The least costly but more-time consuming techniques have become less attractive in recent years because of shorter project times, tighter schedules, and the need to maintain traffic. Consequently, soft ground treatment technologies such as the use of lightweight fills have taken on an increasing role in the construction of roadway embankments. The typically higher unit cost of some types of lightweight fill materials is usually offset by savings when all of the project costs are considered.

Factors that influence costs of utilizing the various types of lightweight fills include…

  • Quantity required for the project
  • Transportation costs
  • Availability of materials
  • Contractor’s experience with the product
  • Placement or compaction costs
  • Specialty items that may be required

Also, the cost of using some waste fills will be dependent on the availability of state rebate programs.

Fact: Placement and compaction costs can be higher for some types of lightweight fills than for conventional soil fill.

Fact: Geofoam does not require moisture and compaction control, which allows placement in adverse conditions. Additionally, adverse weather conditions typically do not affect placement rates of Geofoam. Therefore, the higher material cost of EPS block Geofoam may be offset by lower installation costs. The difference between loose and compacted density of some lightweight fill materials should be considered in the transportation and placement costs.

In summary, EPS Geofoam provides a number of intangible benefits such as…

  • Not requiring an environmental permit
  • Greater speed of construction
  • Placement in adverse conditions
  • Long-term durability
  • Consistent material properties
  • No utility replacement that should be considered in the design and selection process


“The case histories presented in Chapter 11 and summarized in this chapter reveal that EPS-block Geofoam is cost competitive with other options for embankment and wall applications even though the blocks have a higher material cost than soil fill material. In summary, vertical Geofoam embankments are extremely cost-effective because they are more cost-effective than MSE walls, which are usually 25 to 50 percent more cost-effective than conventional reinforced concrete retaining structures. By comparison, trapezoidal embankments made of Geofoam versus soil appear to be less favorable on a cost basis because the intangible benefits of using Geofoam are not adequately reflected. These intangible benefits include shorter construction time because of faster placement rates, reduced utility relocation, or reduced maintenance costs. However, the low end of the cost of Geofoam is in agreement with a soil embankment, which suggests that if a knowledgeable contractor is available, Geofoam is a cost-effective alternative to soil fill. The wide range of EPS-block walls and embankments that have been constructed indicate that a number of factors contribute to the cost of Geofoam structures including material, site preparation, and contractor familiarity with Geofoam. Thus, site specific cost estimates should be developed before comparing EPS block solutions to more traditional solutions.”

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  What do you want to know about EPS?

Neil Hanekom
Worldwide Independent Geofoam &

Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) Specialist

(904) 477-1982

Servicio en español


Geofoam Cost Geofoam Price Geofoam Fill Geofoam Blocks Geofoam Fill Cost How much does Geofoam cost? How expensive is Geofoam? The Cost of EPS Geofoam Geofoam Cost Comparison Geofoam Life-Cycle Costs Geofoam cost-benefit analysis Geofoam Economic Analysis Cost comparison of construction methods for highway widening on compressible subgrade Lightweight road structures with EPS Geofoam blocks Geofoam Integrated Costs The True Cost of Geofoam

Do you need help finding a Geofoam Manufacturer? Do you have a question?


Please email or give me a call. I will be happy to help you.

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