Installing A+ insulation.

Insulation with an A+ rating

Published:  17 September, 2010

KENT: Jablite's UK sales manager, Mike Tattam, says EPS is the greenest form of insulation a builder can use.

"It has an A+ rating from the BRE Green Guide because 90% of the product is air." EPS – a sugar-like styrene monomer – can be rock hard or malleable, depending on its method of design and its purpose. It's all in the mix, Mr Tatam explained.

EPS can be used in a full-fill wall cavity. "With the latest changes to Code Level 4, when you use other insulation materials they may have to be larger than the cavity. Therefore, the footprint of the house will have to be larger," said Mr Tattam.

"When you use Premium Grey EPS, you don't have to go larger. The insulation maintains the same footprint. This is important for newbuild.

"By putting full-fill Grey EPs into the walls, it continues with the standard method of construction that has always been used in the UK, and that meets the required U-values." Jablite, he added, is the only UK company to produce this product.

The U-value is a measure of the heat flow through a building. The higher the U-value the more heat flows through, so a good U-value is a low one, as you want to keep heat inside the building or outside depending on the climate you live in.

When buying products, Mr Tattam said merchants must consider whether their customers are building to the latest Codes. If they are, they may need to look to other methods of construction rather than what they have traditionally purchased.

"Merchants may be able to influence the route to market by explaining that EPS is a lower cost product than other forms of insulation, the merchant will also be able to show that they are at the cutting edge of the next stage of development with regards to the Building Regulations."

Merchants, he said, have to stop just being a place where products are purchased. They must go out and start selling products and showing that they are specialists in their field. "Add value. Tell the housebuilder: 'you don't have to go larger with your wall construction, you can do this instead'."

Jablite works with several large nationals and independent merchants like the Grafton Group. "That company sits very nicely with Jablite because we have a separate arm for civil engineering for infill products and clay heave stabilisers, like our Claymaster.

"It is with specialist niche products like these that the merchant can make higher margins," said Mr Tattam, "not only in traditional wall or ground-slab insulation." Jablite also recently signed a national agreement with the H&B Group.

A great deal of investment is currently being made in innovation in EPS, Mr Tattam explained. "There has been very little innovation over the years, that is probably why we have seen a decline in the market and why people can perceive the product as being old and out-of-date.

Jablite's latest launch, the Flat Roof Inverted, has been designed to offer a greener choice to customers creating standard and green inverted roofs.

"Inverted, or protected membrane roofs place specific demands on the insulation's water absorption, water vapour transfer and compressive strength," said Mr Tattam.

"Previously, customers had been forced to use extruded polystyrene (XPS) products for all inverted roof applications. XPS, however, only achieves 'C' or 'E' ratings in the BRE Green Guide.

"By offering an A+ rated EPS insulation board for standard inverted and green roofs, Jablite customers will find it much quicker and easier to source high performance insulation that has the required environmental rating," Mr Tattam explained.

Flat Roof Inverted also protects the waterproof membrane on all standard gravelled and paved inverted roofs from wide temperature variations, degradation by weather and mechanical damage during construction, use and maintenance.

The product is a flat moulded EPS board manufactured from a raw material that has enhanced water-resistant characteristics. It is offered in a 1.2 by 1.2m size, following feedback from contractors that indicated they preferred a single person lift square board, for ease of handling.

"Thicknesses up to 230mm mean that a single layer system is suitable for most applications. The boards also have a 15mm lipped top to prevent uplift during installation and to eliminate thermal bridging," Mr Tattam stated.

Jablite Flat Roof Inverted A+ rated boards are supplied in a subtle green colour to differentiate them from the company's other flat roof products and to help ensure that the product is used in the correct applications.

Mike Tattam has worked in the building materials industry for 20 years. He began his career with Marshalls and then Redland. "The changes I have witnesses have been incredible – from the polarisation of the merchant sector to the development of companies like B&Q launching TradePoint to attack the merchant sector. 

"The lines have become blurred in this industry over the years. But, what we have seen is more professional buyers coming into the market. It takes the emotion out of trading, which can be a good thing."

Citing the EPS market, where there have been a number of price increases. "If people get emotional, they are not thinking logically about why this is happening.

"Professional buyers are still traders. They recognise when there is development and innovation. They are also professional enough to understand what they want from their customers and what is required from the supplier. This has not always been the case," he stated.

"The day of the handshake on the golf course are over. However, the relationships are still being built because of events like the Builders' Merchants Awards for Excellence, where networking opportunities are just right."

Jablite has experienced its four busiest months in five years. Mr Tattam attributes much of this to the changes to Part L of the Building Regulations.

"All our merchant customers are very busy, the civil engineering side in particular, is incredibly busy at present. I do not believe that the housebuilding market will go down the tubes; people still need to live in houses. People want to own their own homes and there is a whole layer of people who are ready to move from their first homes to their second ones.

"We have to invest in the future. The best barometer of any country's economy is its construction industry. When more houses are being built and being sold, then the rest of the economy will take off."

In-wall insulation.

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