As a leading manufacturer of expanded polystyrene cladding (EPS), we feel it’s important to help our customers and the wider building industry to better understand the key difference between common cladding materials.
We support our industry body, the EPSA, which in a recent statement noted that, “the use of expanded polystyrene as a cladding material for domestic housing up to two storeys is legal and safe under the National Construction Code”.
EPS foam has been used in the Australian construction industry for many years due to its many appealing traits (strong, lightweight, durable) and that it ticks many sustainability boxes for both commercial and residential construction. But despite its longevity, there are several myths that perpetuate. So, let’s set a few things straight.
Expanded polystyrene cladding was not used on the Victorian Summardai apartments
Firstly, we’d like to set the record straight on recent media and commentary over the use of cladding on the Summardai Apartments in our home state of Victoria. This story reveals a regulatory failure, not a product failure.
EPS cladding (polystyrene sheets) is permissible in the construction and cladding of what are classified as Class One buildings, which are defined as domestic dwellings of up to two storeys. The Summardai Apartment project does not fall into this category and regulators should never have allowed the cladding material to be used.
In reviewing TV news reports on the Summardai case, it is clear that the product was poorly installed. Flame retardant and professionally installed EPS foam cladding is an ideal building material offering affordable and effective insulation in domestic housing.
The benefits of Styroboard EPS
Styroboard EPS foam cladding from Foamex is a highly versatile solution ideal for the construction industry. EPS foam sheets are ideal for use in both commercial and residential applications including warehouses, factories, shop fronts, office buildings, houses and apartment blocks, sheds, patios, and garages.
It is widely used across many applications because it is lightweight, strong, clean, and easy to handle. It also provides insulation from temperature and noise and can be used as a base for rendered panels.
Polystyrene and Polyethylene are not the same
We also want to set the record straight on the very distinct difference between polystyrene and polyethylene. Polystyrene products often wrongly get put in the same category as much more dangerous polyethylene products which have been identified in some cladding products including those used on the Grenfell Tower and Melbourne Lacrosse building.
The material in question in the Grenfell disaster and the Melbourne Lacrosse building was aluminium sheeting bonded to a polyethylene core (PE). The use of PE has been linked to major building fires in other countries.
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.
A proven record of safety
Foamex has supplied EPS foam insulation products to the Australian building and construction industry for more than 35 years, working with builders, engineers, architects, designers, and specifiers. All Foamex EPS and extruded polystyrene (XPS) products are manufactured locally to stringent Australian building standards, and are approved by BRANZ, the independent research, testing, and consulting organisation for the building industry.
Foamex: Your EPS insulation experts
Foamex is a long-serving EPSA member and all our EPS products, for both commercial and residential building projects, are supplied with a built-in flame retardant.
Interested in learning more about how Foamex can help you insulate your home in time for summer? Contact your local Foamex sales office to discuss your insulation requirements.