Simon Blackham, Technical Manager at Recticel Insulation, discusses how innovative PIR insulation can contribute to healthy sustainable homes.

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Improving the thermal performance of domestic and commercial buildings has a crucial part to play in achieving the government’s ambitious 14-year target to reduce national emissions by 78 per cent. Quality insulation is key to this successful outcome; a scenario which has been significantly bolstered by polyisocyanurate (PIR) panels. These provide buildings with greater long-term protection against moisture ingress and heat loss, compared to traditional solutions, such as mineral or glass wool.

Polyurethane (PUR) boards and polyisocyanurate (PIR) rigid thermal insulation are rapidly becoming the go-to solutions for house builders, developers and contractors in search of more durable and sustainable alternatives to traditional solutions, such as mineral or glass wool. The panels satisfy two vital factors for designing effective insulation solutions for new and existing buildings: low thermal conductivity and durable performance. These properties are prerequisites for healthy, comfortable interiors that are cost-effective to maintain – an outcome that will also help reduce instances of fuel poverty throughout the UK.

As a member of the National Home Improvement Council, Recticel echoes the non-profit organisation’s commitment to promoting the benefits of safe and sustainable homes as a means of improving living standards for the health and wellbeing of residents. This can be achieved by upgrading the insulate composition of the UK’s under-performing housing stock, which will improve the management of energy resources.


Benefits of PIR
According to the Insulation Manufacturers Association (IMA), the average UK household spends around £1230 on fuel bills each year. This can be up to 50 per cent more than necessary due to the lack of energy-saving measures being implemented in the home. Poorly insulated building fabric is a major contributor to domestic energy wastage. To help combat this, the construction industry is increasingly turning to PIR, rather than mineral fibre-based insulation.

There are numerous benefits associated with PIR insulation. Its closed-cell structure means it doesn’t absorb water, allowing the thermal performance and reliability of the product to be retained over time. When it comes to installation, PIR boards are lightweight, less cumbersome to transport and easy to cut. PIR helps reduce on-site labour times and in-turn, overall build costs. Unlike its mineral-based counterpart, PIR doesn’t shed fibres, thereby eliminating the risk of inhalation and irritation during handling. This results in a more comfortable application for installers. Furthermore, improved performance reduces energy usage, which benefits the environment over the lifetime of the property.


Space saver
With a lambda value as low as 0.022 W/mK, PIR provides excellent thermal performance. This, coupled with its slim composition, means that it requires less space to achieve the same U-value as other insulation materials. This is of particular benefit to housebuilders looking to maximise interior living space in multi-property developments with limited plot size.

Unlike fibrous insulation, which can deteriorate over time if damp sets in, PIR insulation’s structural strength ensures a consistent performance that will last over time, negate costly repairs, and maintain its thermal qualities. PIR insulation is also renowned for its adaptability. It is the ideal solution for a range of applications, such as floors, walls, pitched and flat roofs. Innovations, such as the tongue and groove joint ,which features on all four edges of Eurowall+, have helped further establish PIR performance levels. The 10mm air gap, which is created by a 90mm Eurowall+ PIR board achieving a U-value of 0.18 W/m²K in a traditional 100mm masonry cavity wall, makes for a more convenient fit for bricklayers when it comes to installation.

In terms of specifying insulation for new-build or refurbishment projects, there is much to consider: what insulation thickness is required to achieve the desired U-value? Will this require the building’s structure or design to be altered? How durable is the insulation? What is its proven lifecycle? How easy is it to fit, and what will this mean in terms of site hours and labour costs? For each question, PIR’s insulation and installation capabilities ensure a positive answer is at hand.


Case study: Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire
Eurowall+, Recticel’s full-fill PIR insulation board, provided the airtight solution for two striking new-build properties in Gerrards Cross, Buckinghamshire. The detached, five-bedroom houses, designed with thermal efficiency in mind, required an insulation panel that achieved lower U-values while maintaining traditional cavity widths. Eurowall+ proved the ideal solution.

Eurowall+, the first rigid full-fill insulation board to feature a tongue-and-groove joint on all four edges, can achieve a U-value of 0.18 W/m²K in a traditional 100mm masonry cavity wall. Its beneficial size, coupled with its improved airtightness from the tongue and groove joint, extracts more performance compared to typical partial-fill solutions – without widening the footprint of the external wall.

In total, 500-square-metres of Eurowall+ panels were used for the walls of the £2.5m properties. The panels’ excellent resistance to external moisture will play a vital role in maintaining a healthy, comfortable interior environment for the homeowners.

Products such as Eurowall+ provide proof of how technical ingenuity can be used to transform a standard PIR panel into a product of outstanding usability and thermal performance that benefits the installer and end user alike. It proves the theory that innovation brings reward. In the case of Eurowall+, this means better insulated, sustainable properties with interiors that optimise occupant comfort and wellbeing and are less impactful on the surrounding environment.

Contact Details
For more information, please call 0800 085 4079, email or visit the Recticel Insulation website.