Acoustic and thermal insulation products are widely available from suppliers both big and small, but what should buyers look for when choosing a solution? Cellecta’s Ben Banks offers some tips on specifying the most suitable product for your project
Know what is expected of you
In construction today there are a plethora of regulations to follow – even underfloor heating has regulations for thermal performance. Ensure you know what is expected of you and what you are governed by in terms of Building Regulations, local building control and your warranty provider.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
There are many acoustic and thermal insulation products available on the market today, and this can be confusing. Don’t take at face value what you see on websites, in brochures or trade magazines. Ask questions and seek advice from the manufacturer based specifically on what you are trying to achieve. Are you working on a refurbishment or new build? Every build has to be taken on its own merits to achieve the best results. Don’t be afraid to ask for technical support. What dB value are you trying to achieve? What are the U-values for a unit? If you have high loadings, how can you still comply?
Ensure you have the correct product for the job
Various products within the acoustic and thermal industry go through multiple test environments to ensure performance is 100 per cent accurate and in accordance with regulations. Ask a company’s technical team for test reports and certificates against other suggested products. It’s easy to be misled and continue to follow traditional methods or practices, but it’s worth checking for alternatives which may enhance the overall performance of the build.
Watch out for hidden costs
Headline costs may seem either cheap or costly in comparison to another product or system, but do you know exactly what you are getting? Have you considered that there may be a knock-on effect to the rest of your build? For instance, you may have chosen to lay acoustic battens but by supplementing those with an overlay board you could reduce your floor heights and therefore save on brick coursing.
Look out for the added-value services
Ask if a member of the technical team could visit your plot to discuss options available. For example, you may be nearing the end of your self-build and have restrictions on the depths of the floor and ceiling – in this case a site visit could determine an alternative solution quickly and simply, potentially meaning a noticeable saving. It is important to talk to the manufacturers who know their products inside out and can provide solid, appropriate advice on what need to be implemented on the project. See if companies will do the calculations for you, such as U-values, condensation, risk, imposed load etc.
Time = money
Modern products and methods of construction are usually introduced to make life easier for you on site, so why not use the latest products especially when these can cut installation processes and consequently save you time and, more importantly, money. For example, replacing a traditional wet screed solution for a dry one will allow other construction trades to arrive on site at an earlier stage during the build program.
Has this been done before?
Suppliers and manufacturers should be open and honest about past experiences to aid you in decision-making and help you avoid mistakes – ask for case studies or examples of previous self-builds they’ve worked on or situations that they have overcome. This will in turn give you peace of mind that you have chosen the right product from the right company.
Quality of products
Many manufactures of acoustic and thermal products will have an extensive product range that offers different pricing levels in order to meet the needs of different market sectors. If a product is cheap, ask yourself why. Does it meet the necessary performance levels? Is it third party accredited? One product may cost more initially, but in the long run will require little maintenance – if any. Everyone loves to save money where they can, but not at the risk of future expenditure due to the use of inferior products.
Consider how products will work on your site
The chance of a working self-build plot having acres of space to store products is slim and you probably don’t have a team of 20 to help you move products around when needed. It’s worth asking the supplier if there is a possibility of calling in the product when you need it – you may just need to give them a certain amount of notice for delivery. It’s also important to ask the supplier if the products you’re ordering conform to the one-man lift recommendations within the national Health & Safety guidelines.
Asking for advice before your self-build gets fully underway could save you valuable time and money – make the most of the knowledgeable technical teams available. Questions can be asked through multiple channels – so far this year Cellecta has received hundreds of questions through multiple channels from architects and screeders through to underfloor heating specialists and contractors.
Above all, don’t be afraid to ask difficult questions.
Ben Banks is technical manager at Cellecta