RSS Feed

Related Articles

Related Categories

Breathable materials for construction

22nd November 2018 Print

Construction is an industry full of variables, and managing those variables is often the biggest challenge facing contractors and crews working hard against tight and aggressive deadlines. Amongst the toughest choices within that struggle surround which materials should be used, and which functions of said materials should be prioritised over the other.

One such consideration is breathability. A separate issue than ventilation – although no less important – breathability concerns itself with the materials used within the inner construction of walls in both commercial and domestic buildings, and how that manages how much air is allowed to flow in and out of the property. 

However, given how much of an issue moisture within the air can be - with mould and damp possible consequences - it’s essential that the materials chosen promote healthy air flow without encouraging possibly damaging levels of water retention. 

Importance of breathability

A contentious term within the industry, ‘breathability’ essentially measures how quickly walls are able to dry themselves and promote better indoor air quality, with indoor air pollution becoming an issue if a building is incorrectly constructed. 

The aim is to control exactly how much air is able to leak in and out of a property (completely sealing walls create their own range of problems) as this can help better manage energy efficiency and the long-term durability of the walls themselves and the materials contained within them.

Additionally, optimum airflow through a building using the correct durable materials can ensure heat and moisture are resisted and fungi cannot develop in the first place.

Materials to consider

The walls, slab, foundation and roof – collectively known as the ‘envelope’ of a property – are the key areas to consider where breathability is concerned, as these are the external points of your property with constant contact and exposure to the elements outside.

Inside the brick or stone is where it’s most important to ensure you have the right material and technology housed. One of the leaders of the industry, Cembrit, specialise in manufacturing breathable boards with this exact purpose in mind, designing their products to absorb and release moisture without affecting durability, strength or performance.

Available in two thicknesses – 9mm or 4.5mm – the smaller board can be scored and snapped without creating dust, making installation easier and safer. Ensuring sound acoustic insulation and complete weatherproofing, as well as holding an impressive 60/60 fire rating, their Windstopper Extreme board is one of the best all-purpose options available. 

It’s best practice to seek professional help with any construction job and query if you are unsure as each build is unique and will always require a high level of insight. There are many levels and grades of this technology and so understanding the purpose and demands of a new build will help identify what kinds of materials will be required.