Category Archives: Articles

Sand and Cement, Monocouche and Silicone Render: Which is best?

Of the 28 million properties in the UK, a large proportion are rendered, or at least coated, with some form of protection like pebbledash. However, while pebbledash was vastly popular pre-1930, this aesthetic is now largely considered outdated, making render the go-to for creating a clean, modern look. In this blog, we investigate why render is so popular and the best products to create an incredible finish on your property or home.

 

Originally, UK properties were built with either brick or block. Over time, however, the mortar fusing the bricks together would break down due to natural weathering. Replacing the damaged mortar – known as re-pointing – is incredibly time consuming and, as such, very expensive. Therefore, a feasible alternative to re-pointing a property is to apply render. Render acts as a protective layer for a property; not only does it disguise the existing damaged mortar, but it provides a new facade for the brickwork, offering a clean, modern finish.

 

Traditionally, sand and cement render – typically six parts sand, one part cement and one part lime – was applied to the surface of a property. This render would be applied at a thickness of about 20mm and be coated with paint to complete the aesthetic. As with mortar however, the issue with these traditional renders was that, over time, they would crack due to the natural movements of the buildings by season, expanding in the summer months and shrinking in the winter months. While the addition of lime was intended to provide flexibility to adapt to such movements, the render was still not flexible enough to withstand these movements, causing hairline cracks. Such cracks cause further issues as they would provide an entry point for water to travel behind the render system and, as such, cause it to come away from the wall.

 

In the 90s, several manufacturers introduced a render known as “monocouche”, French meaning “one coat”. Monocouche render is easier to use than sand and cement render as it is premixed, typically four parts sand and one part cement with various other additives; all you need to do is add water. It is applied at a similar thickness to sand and cement render however, once applied, it is scraped to provide a chalkier finish. Monocouche render always uses white Portland cement as the binder; the white base allows for the manufacturer to add a coloured pigment to the render, meaning it does not require paint on top. As such, monocouche became increasingly popular in the 2000s, becoming the go-to product for those looking to render their properties.

 

Again, monocouche render ultimately comes with its downfalls. Firstly, as with sand and cement render, the thickness of monocouche render means that it cannot withstand the seasonal structural movements of the building, therefore causing cracks which again create an entry point for water. Secondly, while monocouche looks fantastic on application, it becomes a hot bed for algae growth as it encounters water. The biological growth on the monocouche can quickly lead to discolouring so, while it initially looks great, it quickly starts to look messy and requires a lick of paint to keep it looking fresh.

Then, in early 2000 came silicone renders – sometimes referred to as thin-coat renders – from Eastern Europe. Silicone render fundamentally differed from sand and cement render and ultimately replaced monocouche render. As opposed to a 20mm-thick render, the silicone render maxed out at 7mm and consisted of two main layers: a 4-6mm cementitious basecoat with embedded fibreglass mesh, and a silicone render topcoat typically at 1.5mm thick, although 0.5mm, 1mm, 2mm and 3mm grain sizes are also available. The fibreglass mesh in the basecoat is vital; it provides the render system the ability to flex with and absorb a building’s natural movements, making it crack-resistant – the defining factor and main benefit of silicone render.

 

Much like paint, silicone renders can also be tinted to any colour, providing infinite design options to apply to your property or home. Monocouche renders do come in various colours however, since pigments need to be added in the factory, they are very limited. So, if you need to match a specific colour – for instance, RAL-7016 anthracite grey – then silicone render is the obvious choice as it can quickly be tinted to match the required colour.

 

What’s more, silicone renders are hydrophobic, meaning that they possess self-cleaning properties which repel water. This means that, whenever it rains, the rain carries away any dirt particles from the render system, so the facade stays cleaner for longer. The EWI Pro Premium Bio Silicone render also has added slow-release biocides within the render, helping to prevent biological growth, which is especially useful if the render is being applied in areas of high vegetation.

 

Finally, unlike sand and cement and monocouche renders, silicone renders are lightweight, meaning that they are ideal to use in conjunction with external wall insulation systems. The weight of sand and cement and monocouche renders can pull the face of the insulation away and are therefore not recommended to be applied on top of insulation materials.

 

As this blog has established, render technology has changed significantly over the last 30 years. Whether you have a property that has existing damaged render that needs an upgrade, or even a new build like an ICF or a timeframe building on which you desire an advanced render system, then look no further than silicone render. With a silicone render system, you can rest assured that the facade will not crack over time and will likely stay much cleaner than either sand and cement or monocouche render, therefore providing a render system that will last for years to come.

Green Homes Grant Scheme and EWI Store

The Green Homes Grant Scheme and External Wall Insulation

In July 2020,  the UK Government announced a new green homes grant scheme, which is designed to give homeowners and landlords up to £5,000 of funding towards energy saving measures for their properties in England. The £2 billion scheme launched on the 30th September 2020, with external wall insulation being one of the main energy saving measures that home occupiers will be able to take-up to significantly improve the thermal comfort of homes.

Insulation measures are the most effective way of increasing the energy efficiency of your property. Whether this is loft, cavity or solid wall insulation. For example, installing 90mm of insulation on the external walls of your property can reduce your heating bill by 30%!

To qualify for the grant of up to £5,000 the improver must also contribute up to one third of the final contract costs for the works, otherwise it maybe deemed invalid

 

 

 

What happens if I cannot afford to make a personal contribution to the cost of the works?

If you cannot afford to make a contribution, the Government is giving up to £10,000 total support for home owners who are in the low-income group. You can then whole project fully funded and you do not need to make a personal contribution.

You can qualify for the Green Home Grants low-income scheme (up to £10,000 support) if you receive at least one of the following benefits:

  • Income based Jobseekers allowance (JSA)
  • Income based Employment & Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income Support (IS)
  • Pension Guarantee Credit
  • Working Tax Credit (WTC)
  • Child Tax Credits (CTC)
  • Universal Credit (UC)
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit
  • Contribution based Jobseekers allowance (JSA)
  • Contribution based Employment & Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Housing benefit

If you don’t receive any of these benefits then the total support will be capped at £5,000.

Green Homes Grant is now live and how does it work?

The Government launched the Green Homes Grant scheme in September. In summary here are the qualification criteria as listed on the www.Gov.co.uk website:

  • you need to reside in England;
  • be a homeowner (including long-leaseholders and shared ownership);
  • own a park home on a residential site (including Gypsy & Traveller sites);
  • you could be a residential landlord in the private or social rented sector (including local authorities and housing associations)

This scheme does not cover new build homes. It is only available to the retrofit sector.

To qualify for home improvements under this scheme you must install at least one primary measure, and any unused funds can then be used to part fund either a secondary or another primary measure. External wall insulation is a primary measure, therefore provided it is selected for the home improvement to improver should receive this funding.

For additional reading on the Green Homes Grant, this can be found on the Simple Energy Advice website found here.

Additional information regarding insulation measures

According to the scheme rules installing external solid wall insulation to a wall, you must insulate all suitable space on that wall elevation. The Government advises all the external walls to be insulated (not a requirement), but in practice you can choose 2 walls, less or more.

If you have a semi-detached for example and you have already insulated one or two of the walls, then you can utilise the grant to insulate the final wall. You cannot use the grant to remove and replace existing wall insulation like cavity wall insulation, but you can use the excess funds to install other insulation measures like loft or floor insulation.

EWI Store products are compliant with the Green Homes Grant scheme

It is understood, that in order to apply for the Green Homes Grant scheme, approved applicators and products will need to be used. The good news is that our external wall insulation systems are BBA approved and therefore ready for use in the scheme. Likewise we also have nationwide network of approved installers who will be able to do the works and access the £5,000 grant.

It is worth mentioning that the scheme is open to anyone that owns a home (including park home owners) – however the property must be based in England to be eligbile. The Grant is non-means-tested, so provided you own the property you are good to apply!

EWI Pro External Wall Insulation Systems

EWI Store offer a wide range of EWI Pro External Wall Insulation Systems. EWI Pro are a system designer and manufacturer, prodcuing specialist external insulation and thin coat render systems.

EWI Pro Insulation Systems has two systems that are certified to the BBA, which are the EPS EWI System and the Mineral Wool EWI System. The BBA is the British Board of agreement and certifies the products and systems, so they are “fit-for-purpose” for the retrofit improvements that are being recommended.

In their testing of the systems, the BBA carries out a set of robust tests that examine the products for their longevity, fire resistance, water penetration and many more. All the products and systems are rigorously tested in the respective factories that produce them so that the quality control in maintained at all times.

Basically, you can rest assured that if you do decide to use the EWI Pro family of products for your next project, they are some of the best available on the market!

All the Materials you need we can supply!

If you want to know the benefits of using Rockwool Insulation over EPS then check out our blog ‘Why use Rockwool in your EWI System?‘ or ‘The Advantages of Rockwool Insulation‘.

How Do I Apply?

Step 1: Go to the Simple Energy Advice (SEA) website to check what low carbon or energy efficiency heat improvements can be made to your home.

Step 2: Contact us at EWI Store so that we can find you a local accredited installer and give you price quotes.

Step 3: Apply for the voucher on the Government website

Contact us for more information

CALL US:

Chessington Branch: 02033 974067

Aylesbury Branch: 01296 821067

EMAIL US:

Sales Enquiries: [email protected]

Technical Enquiries: [email protected]

Are you an Installer?

Check out our Green Homes Grant Scheme blog for Installers.