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NBT was presented with a BBA certificate for its Pavatex Diffutherm system

Wood-fibre boards make waves
Published:  26 March, 2010

Wood-fibre insulation, whether flexible or in rigid boards, had one of the highest profiles of any material at Ecobuild.

Whether it was external wood fibre direct render applications shown on oak frame (Oakmasters), cross-laminated timber (Mayr-Melnhof/Kaufmann) or timber frame on the myriad of eco merchant stands, the material was making a big pitch for business in the new build and renovation markets.

Producers present included Pavatex, Homatherm, Gutex, Steico and Actis, all promoting the vapour permeable, hygroscopic, thermal performance and eco-friendly properties of the boards.

Pavatex supplier Natural Building Technologies achieved a coup by being presented with a BBA certificate at the show for the Pavatex Diffutherm direct render system, a reverse wall construction featuring the OSB sheathing on the inside and mineral-based thin render applied direct to Diffutherm rigid wood fibre insulation on the exterior.

Steico launched its own wood-fibre direct render system SteicoProtect (BBA applied for) at the show, while its wider wood-fibre insulation range will now be stocked by Travis Perkins, bringing the products to a wider audience. It believes the UK’s large concentration of poor thermal performing Victorian homes is an ideal target market for the product.

“Our products are being sold through specialists but it’s started to become more mainstream,” said Steico UK managing director Andy Moore.

French-based Actis is also looking to build up its presence in the sector, including in the UK. The long-established thin multi-foil specialist last year opened its first €25m wood-fibre insulation factory in the Pyrenees.

A direct render wood fibre system used with cross-laminated timber

“With increasing environmental awareness in the market, and in the UK the introduction of the Code for Sustainable Homes, we see growing potential for the business and Actis has ambitions to be one of the major manufacturers in Europe across the full range of insulation products,” said UK and Ireland director Matthew King.

Actis supplies its wood fibre range, which is fire retardant treated to Euroclass E, in stand-alone sheet form, or in conjunction with other insulation products.

Actis, Mr King added, is now looking at building two more wood insulation plants, one possibly in the UK.

New UK market entrant Homatherm reported a lot of interest in its search for distributors and last year invested €17m in a rigid board production plant using a dry manufacturing process, which creates a single-ply homogeneous board that is claimed to achieve the same impact resistance as wet manufactured boards but with a 30% lower density.

“We have seen growth of 30-40% even during the recession,” said managing director Horst Mosler. “Over the last seven years we have grown 400%.”

Ecological Building Systems demonstrated wall and roof applications for the rival dry process brand Gutex.

Steico launched its SteicoProtect direct render wood fibre system