Sealing it for energy efficiency

Andy Swift, national sales manager at ISO-Chemie, says the outlook for high performance foam sealant tapes in 2019 is optimistic, particularly as the technology continues to contribute to improved energy efficiency.

The country is in the grip of a chronic housing crisis and the government has said that 300,000 new homes need to be built annually to meet the shortage. So, while Brexit could stall new commercial construction and investment in infrastructure projects, the need for more housing will drive demand for window and door sealants in the next 12 months.

Indeed, the shortage will create new-build opportunities, particularly in offsite and timber framed construction, which in turn, will secure orders for cost-effective sealing tapes, which are quick-to-install and deliver long-term energy efficiencies. This comes as house builders, who are being encouraged by the UK government to do more in their efforts to tackle global warming, can improve the energy efficiency of the whole window installation – not just the frame – through the application of foam sealants.

Despite strides in modern housing design and development, evidence shows that doors and windows remain one of the biggest culprits when it comes to energy inefficient homes. It could be said that in the light of product innovation, it’s almost criminal that a lamentable number of installations go unchecked or unregulated, leaving in their wake a legacy of problems that can last for years and cost £hundreds-of-thousands to rectify.

With technological advancement comes opportunity, and there’s no reason to settle for inadequate options when it comes to effective energy sealing specification as we look ahead.

Heat will always find the fastest exit as it comes up against the ‘A’ or ‘A+’ rated window, and this is invariably the 10mm (or so) expansion gap left around the window when it was originally fitted. This is normally left empty, but some uncontrolled volume of spray foam can be injected to fill the void before a silicone trim is applied for a smart looking finish.

Unfortunately, as expedient as this might be, none of these solutions create a measurable, long term, high performance thermal, acoustic or airtight barrier; the U-value of the installed window is simply reduced, which leads to heat escape and ultimately, financial loss.

If building regulations remain lenient, we will continue to see window and door developments that only just meet minimum standards. But installers deserve better insulating products to improve energy efficiency and save money for their end-users, and today’s high performance ‘smart’ foams, which are impregnated with different substances to create a measurable U-value as low as 0.6W/m2K, offer excellent thermal insulation and acoustic sound reduction by 63dB.

As these installation tapes are completely weather tight against driving rain up to hurricane force wind speeds, installers can quickly apply them around the frame during initial fitting. This provides the assurance that they have completed a comprehensive ‘A’ rated installation rather than just supplying an ‘A’ rated window. This is a benefit that can be sold on to deliver enhanced energy efficiency advantages for customers and property owners.

Looking forward, the market for energy efficient sealant tapes must appear to be future proof. And, who knows, it may even be better than expected over the next 12 months.

Post-Brexit, the free movement of labour between the UK and EU could become a concern for the industry; we may well face a skills shortage following the exodus of foreign workers. But the skills shortage is not necessarily an impossible one to overcome as companies such as ISO-Chemie are addressing the problem head on with products such as ISO BLOCO 600 and ONE among others, which offer ease-of-installation benefits to accommodate any dearth in sector expertise.

Undoubtedly, companies will need to remain streamlined, cost conscious and well run if they are to survive the next 12 months. The opportunity for growth on the back of effective energy efficiency is there for companies offering state-of-the art products and good off-site technical support. This will be key, along with the increased use of foam-based technology to close off more sales and develop new business opportunities.