Can Heritage Buildings Be Made Airtight?
Environmental sustainability is often talked about with reference to new and modern buildings. Using sustainable products to build new houses that have longer lifecycles and that are energy efficient is a priority.
But can these same principles be applied to older buildings?
What about buildings rich in history and beauty, with quality craftmanship etched into their fabric?
Heritage buildings may structurally stand the test of time, but can we combine that strength with 21st century performance? The answer is yes and here at Intelligent Membranes, we have created products to achieve this.
Our CEO and co-founder, Adam White tells us more:
Why do we Make Heritage Buildings Airtight?
Firstly, there’s now a requirement for heritage buildings to be brought up to a certain standard or code. More importantly than that, we have to make heritage buildings airtight to make sure they continue to thrive and to combat things like mould.
Retrofitting heritage buildings is easier said than done. Tastefully modernising an old structure is one thing but making sure it has the ability to breathe is another and is often the hardest part.
How do you fit the chimney but not spoil the look? It’s always tricky, but it simply has to be done. You’d be amazed at the amount of times we’ve heard about poor ventilation ruining an expensive retrofit.
Why is Ventilation so Important?
The heritage buildings we work on never had central heating so mould wasn’t such a problem. There wasn’t the huge contrast between the hot and cold that we have now. In some, there might have just been the one fire in the house for example.
When we retrofit heritage buildings, they are being stripped out, replastered and central heating is being added which creates a really hot zone. The first thing that happens, is moisture is dragged through the building, so we have to make sure when we airtight that building, it is ventilated properly.
“Build tight and ventilate right” is the saying!
What is the Intelligent Membranes’ heritage range of primers?
People think, when we talk about “buildings breathing” we mean air and oxygen. It’s a common misconception!
We’re actually talking about moisture management through a wall. Our products are variable, they can combine with lime or a number of other materials to help the building to breathe. Our Lime Prime for example is a base coat to cover the lime-based sub structures of grade listed buildings, while continuing to allow them to manage moisture.
Our primers go hand in hand with ventilation – our products need ventilation, insulation needs air tightness. Managing the right amount of air and moisture in a room is tricky because it can depend on a number of variables, like how many people are in that room for instance.
If you have a building with people talking and breathing and it isn’t properly ventilated, it’s a playground for mould, so good ventilation and using our products are both crucial parts of the process.