Recently we bought a piece of Tuff-R -- I guess you would call it a styrofoam insulation board -- and cut it to fit a small window exactly. It is a temporary measure, to get through the winter. The small window is a jalousie type of window that loses a lot of heat. I would call the project a success, but it was messy work because the little styrofoam crumbs stick to your clothes, blow around unpredictably, and are hard to clean up.

I would like to do this again for another window. What is a good way to minimize the mess when working with this material?

  • 1
    "Abridge Tuff-R". sorry, couldn't resist.
    – Jasen
    Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 2:07
  • @Jasen - Thanks! (I had to read it out loud before I got it.) Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 3:03

2 Answers 2


Tuff-R is polyisocyanurate foam.

For styrofoam (polystyrene) using a hot wire cutter to melt rather than crumb the foam is less messy, though with more fumes/smoke. You probably don't want to try that with polyisocyanurate, since the fumes given off by it are far more toxic, per a brief search.

For any sort of foam being cut (sawn) to crumbs(some types don't melt), vacuuming while cutting is helpful.

If you can make your cuts with a razor knife or similar non-crumbing tool rather than a saw, that can help, but may require more effort to make the cut.


I know what you mean about the all little bits of foam that want to stick to me and my tools, probably from static electricity.

The worst tool for cutting foam board is a saw (as far as trying to minimize the dust and crumbs). The tool used by people that work with a lot of foam is a hot wire. An electrically heated wire, similar to a soldering iron, melts through the foam leaving very little debris. If the sheets are laminated with paper or foil you need to score it first. The score can be your guide for the wire. Some web searching will show you where to buy or how to improvise on a cutting wire.

The simple low-budget tool I usually use is a utility knife. I cut both sides of the sheet, then break the sheet at the scores. The deeper the cuts the less foam debris. After I've cut the sheet once, it is easier to pull a sharp blade through the same cut again, a little deeper each time.

For removable insulation I've built simple wooden frames, inserted foam panels and attached them to the frames with expanding foam.

  • Thanks. But your first paragraph gave me the idea that I should use a heated wire. Then you said that you don't do that. So I'm confused. Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 3:02
  • @aparente001, Charles does not have/use the best tool, just one that is available
    – jsotola
    Commented Dec 24, 2019 at 3:28

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