Quality and legal considerations
Construction foam is a universal genius. It can be used for mounting, sealing, insulating and adhesion. The regulations regarding PU foams are just as diverse as the possible application fields. Some important regulations are listed here, as are initiatives for the quality assurance of assembly foam.
CLP Regulation: Identification of chemical products
The aim of the CLP Regulation (Regulation on Classification, Labelling and Packaging) is to ensure a high level of protection against injury and pollution for chemical products and to facilitate free movement of goods within the European Union.
DIN 18355 Carpentry work
The technical regulations describe all aspects that need to be observed when installing windows to ensure that the work is carried out correctly. Of course, this also includes creating connections and sealing. Or put more simply, sealing and insulating window joints.
Whilst construction foam is generally used for insulation, professionals need to take further steps to seal the outside of the window joints from driving rain and make them airtight on the inside.
People spend more time in closed rooms. This means that the quality of the ambient air and the emissions from the materials used are growing in importance.
In the 1990s the Association for the Control of Emissions in Products for Flooring Installation, Adhesives and Construction Products (GEV) introduced the EMICODE to offer assurance to consumers about how to handle adhesives, sealing agents and insulating materials.
This is a competition-neutral classification system that assesses the emission behaviour of products based on a strict testing procedure. The system defines three quality levels: EC1plus (= very low-emission), EC1 (= very low-emission) and EC2 (= low-emission). Originally the EMICODE was developed for adhesives and sealing agents used on large surfaces, such as parquet flooring adhesives.
For the past couple of years it has also been possible to test sealing agents based on the strict EMICODE guidelines which are used in much smaller quantities compared to e.g. PU foam. PU foams that were tested were classified as very low-emission with the label EC1plus.
PU foam for thermal insulation composite system (ETAG 004)
The current draft of the ETAG 004 lay out the conditions that need to be satisfied to ensure that construction foam is suitable for attaching thermal insulation composite system (WDVS). The guide for the European technical approvals (ETAG) has been a long established practice. The benefit of using assembly foams for adhesion lies in the fast hardening properties. After just two to three hours, work can continue on walls mounted with assembly foam. Cement-based adhesives must dry out for three to four days before the next work step is necessary. Also, craftsmen do not need any further tools at the building site.
Quality assurance for construction foam: EN 17333
Which PU foam is the most suitable for my purpose? To help users answer this question more easily, the European Society for Adhesives and Sealing Agents (FEICA) has developed standard measuring methods for 1C PU foams. Based on this, the first European norm for 1-component PU foam cans came into effect in March 2020.
Finding the correct construction foam more easily
The EN 17333 aims to help buyers compare the quality properties of PU foams. Until now, manufacturers could base their product information on their own test methods. This is why it is difficult to compare products by different manufacturers. The new norm closes this gap and ensures uniform information. It defines test methods for foam yield, expansion, application, mechanical durability and insulation properties.
Information about the tests
The standard tests are generally accessible on the FEICA- website. According to the FEICA, the tests are recognised throughout the industry. The members of the work committee are committed to applying these methods. They make up approximately 90 percent of the market volume. At the moment, application of the norm is voluntary. Interested parties can review them on the website of the European Standards Association. In brief, the standards should also be available via the national standards committees of the EU.
RAL Guide window assembly
Mounting windows is a complex task with many important details. The RAL Quality Association and the Institute for Window Technology has issued the most well-known practical guide for mounting windows.
Chapter 6 of this 300-page volume specifically addresses the various attachment options and insulation systems for the window connections. The Guide explicitly addresses the function of PU foam for insulating joints.
It states: “Joint insulation materials serve thermal insulation in the connection joint and contribute to meeting soundproofing requirements.”
More measures are necessary to seal the joints so that they are airtight. One special case is when, apart from thermal insulation, assembly foams are also used to seal window joints so that they are airtight. In this case, the Guide stipulates that the manufacturer must provide suitable verification.
You will find more information at Window Associations.
Sealing joints correctly - a Guide for professionals
What do craftsmen and women need to take into account when filling hollow spaces? The German Construction Chemicals Association has issued a Guide for this. This compares the different joint sealing systems to one another and states the relevant regulations.
There are also calculation tools for the required joint widths and depths, information about processing joints and an extensive bibliography.
The Guide can be ordered for a fee of 1.80 € from the Association or downloaded free of charge.
Here you will find the Guide and other publications by the German Construction Chemicals Association..