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Foamex responds to latest Victorian Building Authority ban of cladding products

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The latest decrees for cladding systems used in the residential building market recently issued by the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) have taken the building industry by surprise. These new regulations will only add to the confusion for builders, specifiers and customers of these types of products. There needs to be increased clarity around cladding products to ensure that lingering confusion is cleared up.

The VBA, which regulates Victoria's building sector, issued an alert in February this year stating that CertMark International had withdrawn nine certifications for cladding systems which are commonly used on low-rise residential housing. CertMark International is the agency that the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) relies upon to determine whether building products are compliant.

The use of external cladding products that contain polyethylene have been in the spotlight as a result of London’s Grenfell and Melbourne’s Lacrosse building fires. These tragic events have prudently led to a great deal of scrutiny on these building products, but in some quarters there has also been some overreaction.

Polystyrene and polyethylene are completely different

As an unintended consequence there have been many other products, including Foamex’s range of expanded polystyrene (EPS) products, which have never been connected to the Grenfell and Melbourne Lacrosse building fires, nor any other building fires, being put under the spotlight. Polystyrene products often wrongly get put in the same category as much more dangerous polyethylene products.

EPS manufactured by Australian company Foamex complies with Australian building standards. It has never been linked to horrendous incidents such as fires in high rise buildings. Yet it has been put into the same category as polyethylene, a material with different combustible qualities than expanded polystyrene.

Never to be confused with polyethylene, all Foamex polystyrene building products have a fire-retardant component built into them; which means when the panels are exposed to a small flame source, they will shrink away from the naked flame.

It is worth emphasising that industry body Expanded Polystyrene Australia (EPSA) supports enhanced public safety with strong standards and policing around the area of flammable cladding. Foamex is working with the EPSA to ensure proper education and segregation of our EPS product versus polyethylene.

A proven record of safety

Foamex has supplied various polystyrene insulation products to the Australian building and construction industry for more than 35 years, working with builders, engineers, architects, designers, and specifiers to meet their insulation needs.

All our expanded polystyrene and extruded polystyrene products are manufactured locally to stringent Australian building standards, and approved by BRANZ, the trusted independent research, testing, and consulting organisation for the building industry.

We are a long-serving member of the industry body EPSA and all of our expanded polystyrene products, for both commercial and residential building projects, are supplied with a built-in flame retardant.

How we can help you

Foamex can supply your required expanded polystyrene products – cut to the specific dimensions needed – for your next building project. Contact your local Foamex sales office to discuss your insulation requirements.

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