9 Dec 2015

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It’s time to take a new look at insulated render

Insulated render has in recent years been used predominately to upgrade solid wall and post-war housing and high-rise tower blocks, significantly improving their energy efficiency and appearance. But has its history led to it being overlooked in modern architecture? In this post, Justin Price, Sales Director at Aliva UK, explains why architects shouldn’t dismiss this flexible, cost-effective solution.

Insulated Render

Ercall Wood technical college in Telford is one of many new buildings benefitting from Aliva’s TermoK8® insulated render.

There is no doubt that insulated render can transform old buildings. It is one of the most effective and efficient ways of improving a building’s thermal performance, capable of reducing heating costs by as much as 40%.

The convenience of insulated render for this type of facelift can’t be underestimated – it can be installed quickly without moving residents, and immediately transforms the look of a building.

Aliva’s refurbishment projects for City West in Salford, have shown that these upgrades don’t just have an impact on the buildings, but also on the residents who take renewed pride in their homes and the local area.

These benefits of insulated render are well known, but what has surprised me during my 30 years in this industry is that more architects aren’t considering it for new projects. Its ability to blend the practical considerations of energy-efficiency and cost-effectiveness, with a variety of finishes that can enhance the look of a building make it a highly attractive option.

The basics of insulated render

Insulated render is a simple product to explain. It starts with an insulation layer, such as mineral wool or expanded polystyrene, which is fixed to the building with adhesive or mechanical pins. Layered on top of that is the render, which is usually added in two layers to achieve a profile of about 6-7mm. Last but not least, the finish is added, which can be anything from a crisp textured facade to a clay or acrylic brick slips finish.

So far, so simple, but of course not all insulated render is created equal. At Aliva, we have British Board of Agrement (BBA) certification for all seven of our insulated render systems, which confirms they meet required standards for thermal performance, strength and stability, fire safety, condensation resistance and durability. These certifications are always worth looking out for when considering insulated render for a project.

Cost-effective, energy efficient and intelligent

The range of cladding and finishes now available to architects makes it challenging to choose the right look. As the industry leader in full façade system design and supply, Aliva regularly works with architects and construction partners to help them decide on the right choice. So with such a range of options, why do we include insulated render in our portfolio for new build projects?

For starters, insulated render is very cost-effective, particularly for large buildings. It can be used to cover expansive areas, while other – perhaps more dramatic – cladding options act as features.

Insulated render systems can be designed to suit current or improved building regulations requirements for thermal values of external walls. It encloses the building in a tight layer of insulation that doesn’t impact on the internal footprint of the building and is extremely durable and long-lasting.

Insulated Render

Aliva’s intelligent, self-cleaning insulated render keeps the Holiday Inn Express at Aberdeen Airport looking pristine.

Render has other sophisticated properties. Our work for the Holiday Inn Express at Aberdeen Airport is a great example. Given the buildings proximity to a busy airport, the buildings needed to retain their crisp look, while fending off the high levels of air pollution and the associated dirt and grime. The finish chosen was Aliva’s Silicone Texture, which benefits from nanotechnology and has self-cleaning properties.

The Silicone Textures are designed to encourage rainwater to bead on the surface, allowing it to run down the face of the wall rather than being absorbed into the finish, taking with it the dirt and grime that would otherwise attach itself to the damp face of the building.

As well as being self-cleaning, the textured finish on the hotel building – as with all our textured finishes – has been awarded the Fraunhofer Institut fur Bauphysik certification for algae and fungal resistant coatings. This ensures the render stays in excellent condition, and reduces the potential maintenance costs associated with algae or fungal growth.

The finishing touch to beautiful architecture

Of course, choosing the right façade for a modern building isn’t just about the practicalities, it’s about the design. After all, it’s what everyone notices first.

The great thing about insulated render is its power to deliver a staggering array of finishes. It can have a smooth and crisp textured finish in a variety of grain sizes, or the approved system cover clay bricks, acrylic bricks, dry dash or brick effect renders. Our textured finish, which we believe creates the most modern look, can come in any one of more than 400 different colours, so it really is a case of anything being possible.

Our recent work on a range of schools in Telford demonstrates how insulated render can put the finishing touch to beautifully designed, up-to-date architecture. Ercall Wood technical college’s stunningly crisp white façade (picture at the top), is a testament to balancing good design with the practical considerations of thermal efficiency and cost.

Insulated Render

A residential project in Greenwich marries modern design with the thermal efficiency of insulated render.

Another great example of a new build making ample use of insulated render is a residential project we worked on in Greenwich (pictured above) which also managed to combine a modern look with an energy efficient approach to building.

A clever complement to other façade options

Perhaps the best thing about insulated render is that it can act as a beautiful background or a colourful complement to other cladding and façade options.

This approach is gaining popularity, and Aliva has worked on several projects, and has more in the pipeline, that use insulated render in tandem with our other façade options. Take the new Moneypenny headquarters in Wrexham – this £15m new development will feature our insulated render with a clean, textured finish alongside our Alucovering aluminium cladding in a beautiful bronze tone.

Similarly, a 78m high student accommodation block in Plymouth, due to start construction next year, will complement our insulated render with our stone cladding and high pressure laminate.

I hope that projects like these will make architects rethink their use of insulated render. It will always be a mainstay of refurbishment projects, but it also has great potential for enhancing the best of modern architecture.

Justin Price

Justin Price is Sales Director of Aliva UK.

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