Continuous insulation consists of applying a material with insulating function in such a way that there are no holes or infiltrations in the envelope of the building. This practice guarantees airtightness of the construction so you get a healthier and more efficient building.
Thermal performance of insulation materials
The “R” factor is the resistance to heat flow. This indicator is the one tested in laboratories and described in the prescriptions of materials and systems of isolation for buildings and other applications, such the industrial ones.
The fact is that a good insulating material depends not only on that numerical factor, but also on its form of application. The energy efficiency of a building will be affected if, despite the good thermal behavior of the insulating material, it is not continuous and allows the energy to escape.
Discontinuous versus continuous insulation
Materials that do not provide continuous thermal insulation need auxiliary elements to cover joints and spaces that produce unwanted air infiltrations.
This technique increases the cost of installation and maintenance of it, and it is more complicated to guarantee total tightness. Uncontrolled air leaks are usually the primary cause of failure in the energy efficiency of newly built buildings.
Poor sealing at joints can cause that good behaviors such as conductivity or convection of heat get ruined because of unwanted air transfers.
Continuous isolation avoids those risks. In addition to saving money by improving insulation, continuous insulation improves the health of the interior of the building. The use of continuous insulation – such as that provided by polyurethane systems – decreases the risk of condensation, which prevents mold from appearing.
Continuous systems have another advantage: structural operation.
In the case of polyurethane systems, they are capable of behaving in a unitary manner together with the constructive element in which they are applied, working in solidarity with the structure of the building.
An example of this is the restoration of a roof with polyurethane systems. When using polyurethane systems to insulate a roof in a restoration process, existing problems such as poorly distributed loads or the loss of mechanical behaviour of auxiliary roofing elements, such as nails, are solved.