Over the past 100 years, through-wall construction has probably never seen such a period of significant change as what it has experienced in recent years. Traditional products that have become ingrained in building practices now require adapting because of changes to standards and performance requirements – most notably in relation to fire and thermal. John Taylor, Technical Director at Euroform, discusses the importance of continued product innovation to ensure that popular methods of modern construction – particularly facades in high rise buildings – can still be used.

Following changes to Part L of Building Regulations (England and Wales) surrounding the conservation of fuel and power and Approved Document B in relation to fire safety, there has been a renewed focus on the combustibility and thermal performance of building fabrics. Insurance companies have also tightened their approach and introduced new stipulations which dictate fire strategy. These changes have been welcomed by the industry in the best interest of safety and sustainability, but a new standard has been established for manufacturers and specifiers to comply with.

Building board specialist, Euroform, has responded to these market changes with the launch of A2 Versapanel®… a market-leading cement particle board which has been independently tested in accordance with BS EN 13501-1 and certified as a Euroclass A2 product.

A class of its own

Versapanel® is a widely specified product in building envelope applications and is long established in the market, proven to perform acoustically and deliver exceptional performance in the presence of moisture – cut edges do not require sealing to prevent degradation. In response to market demand for a simplified route to limited combustibility, Euroform has invested in the development of A2 Versapanel® to deliver enhanced fire performance.

The Euroclass A2 certification confirms the high mass and robust exterior lining of the boards is of limited combustibility when exposed to fire conditions.

As compared with standard Versapanel®, the new A2 Versapanel® delivers superior pull out resistance, with comparative tests demonstrating a marked improvement on an already very good performance. Offering superior mechanical performance as compared with exterior gypsum boards, A2 Versapanel® also helps to improve the air tightness of facades when sealed at joints. A wide range of finishes can be applied over A2 Versapanel®, including insulated render systems, terracotta cladding systems, high performance cladding systems and traditional brick coursework.
The launch of A2 Versapanel® is also timely for the construction industry. The simplified route to revised Approved Document B compliance is seeing many developments specify insulation materials which offer limited or non-combustibility – which place additional demands on the performance of the building boards in through-wall build-ups.

In the thick of it

The move to use materials of limited-combustibility in construction, particularly in high-rise buildings has resulted in the specification of heavier and thicker mineral-based external wall insulation. The industry has become accustomed to using light-weight building boards but building boards with a higher mass and robust exterior lining are often required to secure increased volumes of insulation.

A2 Versapanel® is an ideal solution as it offers enhanced mechanical performance and pull out resistance for help attaching insulation. In addition to mechanical strength, A2 Versapanel® also has excellent acoustic properties, which assists developers in constructing buildings which promote occupant comfort by minimising sound transfer from external noise sources.

From a handling perspective, A2 Versapanel® is supplied as standard in 2400mm x 1200mm boards in 10mm and 12mm thicknesses. The product can be cut to size on-site or provided in a pre-fabricated kit to simplify installation processes. CE marked according to BS EN 13986:2004+A1:2015, A2 Versapanel® has been independently tested as A2-s1,d0 reaction to fire according to BS EN 13501-1: 2007+A1:2009.

For further information on A2 Versapanel® or to learn more about specifying the product on buildings above 18m high, please visit or email

Construction material specialist, Euroform, is continuing to widen the variety of finishes available in its already popular EZWall cladding system range, which cleverly combines the advantages of modern construction techniques with the appeal of traditional brickwork. The range has been expanded due to an increase in demand for decorative cladding applications where installation is quicker and to a higher standard than traditionally built masonry walls.

Designed with aesthetics in mind, EZWall provides both a decorative and durable finish to vertical external walls and can even be matched to existing brickwork with its growing choice of sizes, patterns, stone and brick types. The improved cladding system range is a reliable solution for applications on domestic and commercial buildings, from garden to gable walls. EZWall can be fitted to all types of substrates including steel frame systems, timber frame systems and block work.

John Taylor, Technical Director at Euroform, said: “There has been increasing demand in the market to find solutions for creating authentic brickwork designs on buildings without the high cost of materials and labour. EZWall is as visually attractive as traditional brickwork yet far more cost effective to install on a multitude of substrates. Euroform offer an extensive and growing range of EZWall designs for any project.”

The cladding system is lightweight at approximately 35kg/m2 based on a 15mm slip, making it easy to handle and install. Its low weight also means EZWall can be used in areas that have no load bearing support structure, and no specialist tools or clips are required for installation.

The system benefits from full depth mortar joints combined with a dual weeping mechanism design which allows for superior drainage of accumulated moisture, developed for years of strength and durability.

For more information regarding EZWall please visit or email

Advances in construction techniques over the past decade have given rise to some genuine commercial, sustainable and health and safety benefits – all while improving efficiency and performance. However, as building regulations are updated over time and standards become increasingly stringent, these modern methods of construction risk failing to keep pace, particularly where thermal insulation is concerned. Chris Lea, Technical Sales Manager, SIG Performance Technology, explores why the construction sector needs to rethink its approach to reducing heat loss in a building and why the aerospace industry appears to hold the answer. 

Some of the major specification drivers for building design in modern times are the need to keep building footprint to a minimum, maximise internal rentable space and achieve the highest energy efficiency performance possible. Working within the confines of these design objectives, developers must also achieve accelerated build programmes in a bid to complete within budget and realise the return on investment as promptly as possible.

Fast track construction which uses steel or timber frame has become a tried and tested build method in the UK, particularly in high rise developments. As the exterior of these buildings is commonly a cladding finish, the challenge of reducing heat loss while maximising internal floor space and minimising building footprint comes to the fore. Crucially, the insulation has to be installed within the through-wall build up, but this construction suffers from cold bridging as soon as the rainscreen carrier system is installed. This is where innovative new insulation techniques are helping modern construction techniques to stay at the forefront.

Helping hands

The availability of 3D thermal modelling has proven a valuable technology in assisting the development of new solutions which address current construction challenges. After reviewing thermal models of buildings using rainscreen systems, the innovation team at SIG Performance Technology identified high levels of heat loss being caused by the helping hand bracketry in the support systems. Realising that a reduction in the cold bridging through the bracketry would significantly improve the overall performance of the building envelope, research began into developing an insulated clip-on solution.

After a programme of development, aerogel – most commonly used in aerospace and industrial applications – emerged as the most suitable insulant owing to its exceptional thermal performance and proven flexible properties. This led to the launch of CHI-GASKET, a patented insulated component which is simply clipped on to standard helping hand bracketry on-site. In doing so, the cold bridging is significantly reduced and means the insulation within the through-wall build-up does not have to compensate for this and consequently does not have to achieve such low U-Values. It is because of this that the CHI-GASKET is now considered from initial design stage.

Aerogel in action

The use of Aerogel as an insulant in helping hand bracketry is a unique application but one where a change in design process has enabled major developments to achieve core design objectives. This principle is also now being applied in modular buildings and offsite construction, where linear areas of heat loss at construction junctions prove a common challenge.

As the modular buildings typically have much tighter junctions than those constructed on-site, these developments present several challenges. Firstly, lower density insulation is more flexible and easier to install into tight frames, but these materials are generally lower performing from a thermal perspective. Secondly, rigid materials offer good thermal insulation, but require cutting to size, either on or off-site, which adds a layer of complexity to the construction process. Finally, both of these methods leave room for installation error, as the materials are being cut to size or pushed into place manually.

Offering a solution to this challenge is Aerogel. The material can be precision cut to size and fabricated to any bespoke shape to meet the exact needs of modular building specifications. Thermally excellent yet flexible, precision manufactured aerogel linings would deliver a much greater level of quality control and reduce labour time in construction – all of which align with modern methods of construction.

While the name Aerogel is probably more synonymous with NASA than with MMC, as the construction market continues to innovate with insulation, this could be set to change in the not so distant future.

Following the success last year of SIG Roofing’s national competition to find Britain’s Best Cafe, the 2017 campaign is now under way.

Announced with the help of last year’s winners, Gail and Chris Murray, from the Super Sausage Cafe in Potterspury, near Milton Keynes, the competition will once again inspire hundreds of the nation’s cafes to canvass votes from their local customers and supporters.

2016 really showed that cafe customers value their regular stop-off for a great British breakfast, a tasty lunch or simply a strong cup of “builders’ tea”. With support from SIG Roofing’s 120 branches nationwide, who will be encouraging their own customers to vote and support their favourite local cafe, this year’s cafes will be vying to win a glorious trip to Cuba – to sample the stunning sun, sea and local delicacies.

In November, after all the votes have been counted, Andrew Wakelin, SIG Roofing Managing Director, will present the lucky national title holder and 14 regional winners with their awards at a ceremony in a prestige London venue.

Commenting on the Britain’s Best Cafe competition, he said “With a network of local branches covering the length of the UK, from Inverness to Plymouth, we have long-standing and close relationships with contractors right across the country. Knowing them and their daily routine inspired the idea of supporting and promoting the cafes that help them through the working day. These are businesses which, like us, understand the value of great product along with high service standards.”

Marketing Manager Janine Brady was involved with every aspect of the 2016 competition and says that SIG Roofing and cafe customers alike can look forward to another exciting competition this year.

With voting opening in July, SIG Roofing and their branch teams are gearing up for the competition, which last year attracted 500 entries from cafes and tens of thousands of public votes.

Janine Brady concludes, “We’re delighted that our 2016 winners Gail and Chris Murray had such a great time in New York City and they are determined to defend their title in 2017. Everything points to a bigger and better turnout this year and we can’t wait to support all the cafes that enter through our local branches, with this national competition.”

For more information please visit

With tens of thousands of public votes cast and 500 cafes entering, SIG Roofing’s hugely popular competition to find Britain’s Best Cafe is approaching its final stage with the announcement of its 14 regional winners.

The lucky proprietors and staff now head to London for a grand celebration lunch where the national winner will be announced, with the top prize of a fabulous 4-night trip to New York City and a visit to the famous Ellen’s Diner on Broadway.

The competition has been run to recognise the outstanding job local cafes do in the working lives of SIG Roofing customers and the local community and to underline the ‘local accent’ of the company’s services through its national network of 120 branches.

SIG Roofing’s Marketing Manager, Janine Brady, explains. “Roofing and building contractors are some of the most loyal and regular customers of Britain’s cafes. For many they are a daily place to meet, eat and enjoy both great food and service with a smile. Our branches offer a local service that’s very different in content – but with the same type of engagement and good humour. Running this competition to find Britain’s Best Cafe is our way of recognising and thanking the cafes for all that they do feeding their hungry customers and those in the local area!”

With the 14 regional winners announced, tension is now mounting as all the hopefuls head for the culmination of the competition in London this November. Voting, both online and in SIG Roofing branches, has outdone expectations and there has been hot competition for the top spot.

You can find out who the regional winner is in your area by visiting

Local cafes around the UK are vying for the title of Britain’s Best Cafe, in a national competition where everyone will get the chance to vote for their favourite.

With thousands of cafes in the UK helping the nation to get to work every morning courtesy of the famous morning cuppa, Bacon Buttie or the legendary British Breakfast every vote will count.

The national competition is being organised by SIG Roofing and its 120 local branches will be supporting the cafes in their bid to win the title. When votes are counted at the end of October this year, 14 regional winners will be announced and cafe owners and their guest will be on their way to a celebratory lunch in London’s famous Chiswell Street Brewery in November.

There, SIG Roofing Managing Director Andrew Wakelin will announce the national title holder of Britain’s Best Cafe and the winning cafe proprietor, together with their guest, will be heading for a four-day trip to New York City – including a taste of New York’s finest breakfast at Ellen’s Stardust Diner on Broadway and 51st Street, just off the legendary Times Square.

SIG Roofing supplies more than 40,000 products across pitched, flat roofing and industrial roofing and cladding and the competition is a sign of commitment to its customers, along with its determination to preserve the long-term relationship that the local SIG Roofing branches have built with them over the years.

Marketing Manager Janine Brady explains how their branches, their customers and the local cafes have important links – all playing a part in each other’s day to day lives, with valuable relationships built up over many years. Britain’s Best Cafe is SIG Roofing’s way of recognising and thanking the cafes for all that they do feeding their hungry customers and those in the local area!

“Our customers are at the centre of all that we do and we believe the roofers and contractors who make up our loyal customers are the best people to judge what makes a great British Breakfast – many of them have a regular cafe which not only provides a great British Breakfast but it’s also a place they can meet and relax before a hard day’s work. For SIG Roofing the competition is a thank you to our customers, a renewal of the relationship with the local branch, and a chance for the general public to join in the fun.”

As part of the competition, customers, contractors from all trades and the general public can visit their local SIG Roofing branch to cast their vote in-branch.

Thousands of cafes throughout the UK were invited to register for the competition, with many of them having signed up for their chance to win! To find out if your local cafe has registered just visit Registered cafes will also be displaying posters, voting forms and till ‘wobblers’ – all ready to encourage their customers to cast their vote too.

SIG Roofing will also be running a number of PR stunts from the start of voting on 5th September to the close on 28th October, together with local media involvement and a full range of social media support… so be sure to watch out for more coming soon and see how you can get involved.

Complete details can be found at and anyone who wants to support their cafe in the bid for the title Britain’s Best Cafe can vote in any branch of SIG Roofing or online via the dedicated website.