There has been a lot of discussion recently about the use of Foam Building Systems in building in Australia since the Grenfell Tower London fire which has fuelled the myth about foam cladding and foam wall systems not being fire safe. There also appears to be a lot of confusion over the differences between Cladding Systems vs Insulating Foam Construction Systems.
Firstly, the cladding systems in question used on the Grenfell Tower in London was an imported Aluminum Composite Panel.
The important thing to firstly understand about Foam cladding is that it is a non-structural and a lightweight building system which has been used as a cost effective alternative to brick work. This is to reduce building costs and increase the speed of construction. The foam cladding with its highly insulated properties is also very appealing to the “eco-friendly” builder/homeowner and rightly so.
There are many Foam cladding/EIFS (External Insulated Façade Systems) which are manufactured and sold in Australia that comply with the Australian Building Codes and fire safety standards.
ZEGO Z-Board (EIFS) Cladding is a flame retardant Expanded Polystyrene (EPS) which is manufactured in Australia and has been tested by AWTA, a leading registered NATA testing Authority.
ZEGO Z-Board Cladding also has a large convection groove which allows for normal convection currents to evaporate any moisture or water. This is important for breath-ability of the cladding to ensure the timber frames don’t rot out and the steel frames don’t rust out from moisture. Secondly, the final finishes of acrylic render which should have a 4-6% acrylic content provide flexibility and a water resistant surface. The render is applied after the installation of the cladding giving a monolithic render finish which can expand and contract.
In Australia, the “foam or polystyrene bricks” are Insulated Concrete Forms which are a hollow flame retardant EPS, a “stay in place” formwork core filled with concrete. The ZEGO ICF formwork has self-extinguishing characteristics and will not sustain a flame.
The ZEGO ICF Building System is a structural reinforced concrete building with stay in place foam for insulation. Insulated Concrete Formwork (ICF’s) systems have been used in construction around the world for more than 60 years. Reinforced concrete is 6-9 times stronger than a traditional build.
Fire Safety is a highly regulated in Australia’s Building industry and it’s advisable to select Foam Cladding and ICF Construction Systems that undergo continual fire retardant and self-extinguishing testing.