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    Products review: Insulated Panels for facades

    Nathan Johnson

    Insulation material advances, coupled with a high demand for lightweight, energy efficient facades has facilitated the growing reputation of insulated panels as an alternative to traditional products in facades applications.

    Comprised of an exterior and internal cladding layer which sandwich an inner core of insulation, the panels are seeing consistent use in both residential and commercial applications.

    The inner cores of most insulated panels are filled with hardened closed-cell expanded polystyrene (EPS) which benefit a long-term stable and high-performing thermal performance (R –Value). Alternative inner core fillings include extruded polystyrene, polyisocyanurate and polyurethane foam as well as mineral wool.

    The variations between insulated panels offered in the Australian market are generally in the makeup of the external skin, with aluminium, Colorbond Steel, fibre cement sheeting and oriented strand board the more prominent cassettes.

    Size and weight of boards also differ among suppliers, as do their textures and finishes.

    Lightweight and pre-painted, insulated panels are faster to install than block or precast concrete and are cost effective compared to other decorative façade treatments which entail substantially more sub-frame preparation.

    Following is a list of popular EPS core insulated panels available in the Australian market:

     

    XFLAM Insulated External Panels, Askin.

    XFLAM Insulated External Panels from Askin are made from cellular foam which uses natural air rather than alternative gases to fill foam cells, delivering high thermal resistance and fire resistance. (Image: Askin)

    • Fire rating: BCA Group 1
    • R Value: 3.3 at 100mm, 15 degrees
    • Benefits: High fire-resistance, sound thermal resistance, available in BlueScope Colorbond colours.

    ThermaWall Plus, RMAX

    ThermaWallPlus by RMAX combines exterior cladding with expanded polystyrene insulation. The insulation core is pre finished with Perform Guard, an inorganic material that is a deterrent to termites, and the entire unit is reinforced with fiberglass mesh for strength. (Image: RMAX)

    • Fire rating: BCA Group 1
    • R Value: 3.10 at 100mm, 23 degrees Celsius.
    • Benefits: Light weight 2500mm x 1200mm cladding board structure supports DIY application

    Structural Insulated Panels, SIP Industries Perth

    Structural Insulated Panels from SIPs Industries utilise Orientated Strand Board skin with a central polystyrene foam core.  They are manufactured as a unit offsite and have strong load capabilities—removing the need for steel, timber frames and brick work. (Image: SIPS Industries)

    • Fire rating: Undisclosed
    • R Value:  2.72. at 115mm
    • Benefits: The strength of SIPs means they eliminate the need for structural timber framing, steel and brick work meaning quicker construction, less money spend on trades and simple installation. They can be used as a finishing façade but are more commonly covered in additional separate layer for aesthetic purposes.

    Equitilt, Bondor

    Bondor’s Equiltilt is an all-in-one composite solution installed in either a horizontal or vertical orientation. Both its internal and external finishes are available in a wide range of modern colours, metallics and profiled finishes meaning no need to retrofit facades or internal walls. (Image: Bondor)

    • Fire Rating: Group 1 (with recommended steel fixtures)
    • R Value: 2.49 100mm
    • Rw sound performance:  24 to 25
    • Benefits: lightweight, high thermal performance, all-in-one option.

    Benchmark Evolution, Kingspan

    Available in a range of laser-cut profiles, the Benchmark Evolution series from Kingspan is a completely flat façade that alludes a traditional cladding aesthetic.
    Kingspan insulated panels are design orientated but still offer high thermal performance. (Image: Benchmark)

    • Fire Rating: Group 2
    • R Value: 5.15 at 100mm
    • Benefits: High thermal performance, design orientated, flat panels are lightweight and easily installed.

    PanelLock, Stramit

    PanelLock panels from Stramit are joined at their sides with a cross transfer tongue and groove joining system and can be erected as a modular frameless building system.  The panels come in a range of Colorbond colours and are relatively maintenance free once erected. 

    • Fire Rating: Undisclosed
    • R Value: 2.63 at 100mm
    • Benefits: Stramit’s unique interlocking joint cuts site and construction time. The light-weight boards are fastened to aluminium extrusions at corners with a simple pop-rivet system.

    Key:

    R-Value: A material sample’s ability to reduce the rate of heat flow under specified test conditions.

    BCA Group rating: The BCA provisions wall materials for Class 2 to 9 buildings are rated for their Fire Hazard Group Number.  (Group 1 is the most fire resistant, Group 3 the least)

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