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Commercial Flooring News

Choosing The Best Material For Insulation

Maria Morgan, product manager polyfoam at Knauf Insulation explains the requirements for insulation in non-residential floors: 

INSULATION is one of the key components of any floor build up, but with rising energy costs and growing pressure to reduce carbon emissions, flooring contractors need to be more clued up about different products and appropriate applications.

Floor insulation should be resistant to moisture, provide thermal performance and be strong enough to withstand the load of the flooring itself, as well as the weight of furniture, the building’s occupants and activities.

This is particularly important in commercial and other non-residential applications, such as colleges, hospitals, supermarkets and industrial facilities, where high levels of foot traffic and the presence of machinery or other heavy equipment, places an even greater strain on the floor construction. In this type of application, extruded polystyrene (XPS) is the ideal solution, as it is an extremely robust material.

XPS products, such as Knauf Insulation’s Polyfoam ECO Floorboard, benefit from a ‘closed cell’ construction, which results in a rigid and very stable internal structure. This is useful in a number of ways as it means the floorboards can tolerate traffic from following trades without damage and can be installed as part of almost any type of concrete floor construction, including those finished with either a screed or chipboard overlay.

What’s more, the high compressive strength of XPS products means they are able to protect the damp proof membrane, and also provide a further line of defence against moisture penetration and rising damp.

XPS is also highly resistant to moisture absorption, which is critical in ensuring the long-term viability of the flooring build up. Another benefit is that XPS is a lightweight material, making the floorboards easy to handle and install.

Where underfloor heating is to be installed, XPS insulation again offers a number of advantages. For example, Knauf Insulation is able to manufacture bespoke solutions in which the heating pipes can be sunk into the insulation itself, thanks to a state-of-the-art CNC router at its Hartlepool plant.

This means the heating pipes are fully insulated from the start to end point, reducing heat loss and preventing warm spots where flow and return pipes are connected.

When choosing XPS insulation products, it’s also important to consider how the material will fit within the building’s overall environmental performance. Knauf Insulation’s Polyfoam ECO Standard and Extra range is the only range of extruded polystyrene products to be independently assessed and certified by the Building Research Establishment (BRE) to achieve a Green Guide rating of ‘A’.

Insulation is a critical aspect of the floor construction and choosing the most appropriate material for the floor application under consideration is a key part of delivering the long-term performance of the floor.

Consulting with a reputable manufacturer’s specification team early on is the easiest way to ensure the chosen material will deliver the required thermal and mechanical performance.

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at