Foil-backed building materials appear to be economical, convenient, and popular. Some claim they are also fireproof and airtight (which is debatable at best). So why do we – and other cutting-edge builders — avoid using them?
Foil-backed building materials are supposed to be excellent insulators that prevent the transfer of heat from outside to inside your home and vice versa. They typically have a shiny, silver surface on one or both sides. This shiny surface is the hub of the problem, often leading to:
- Rotting timber
Because foil-backed materials are mostly used inside walls, the problems go unseen and undetected until it’s too late. Lack of accessibility makes correcting the problems expensive and sometimes impossible.
When there is a temperature difference between one side of a material and the other (as is the case with insulation), moisture in the air condenses. You notice this when you have a cold drink in a glass on a hot day. As the hot air touches the cold glass, moisture condenses.
Condensation is the root cause of many problems in homes including mould and timber rot.
The moisture that condenses on one side of foil-backed building material can drip or run onto other surfaces, causing them to become damp. This dark, damp (even wet) space provides the perfect environment for mould to grow. Sometimes it remains inside the walls and ceiling. Other times it permeates your plasterboard and starts growing on your internal walls and ceiling.
Mould can trigger many health concerns including nasal congestion, sneezing, coughing, wheezing, and respiratory infections. These can worsen over time into more serious asthma and allergic conditions.
Foil-Induced Timber Rot
The moisture caused by condensation on foil-back building materials, can drip onto the timber frame of your home. This can cause the timber to rot prematurely which can compromise the structural integrity of your home. Yes, all because there is foil-backed material in the walls.
Some builders try to overcome this by using treated timber. But this just delays the inevitable. And off-gassing from the chemical treatment in the timber affects the health of those living in your home.
Leaky Building Crisis
Foil-induced condensation, mould, and timber rot is so rampant in New Zealand, it’s been called the leaky building crisis. Estimates suggest it has affected more than 89,000 homes and buildings including schools. The issue is so serious it has prompted the government to amend the building code.
Foil backed building materials are just one of many popular products that can end up causing many unintended issues. Be sure your builder understands the building materials they are using in your home.
For more information on the best building materials to use in your home, we invite you to book a Free Consultation where we will answer your questions and show you the most efficient and affordable way to get a comfortable, energy efficient custom home you’ll love forever.