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Polystyrene: Improved Home Comfort & Reduced Energy Spending PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 02 October 2007

Expanded polystyrene is a cost effective material for thermal insulation in a number of building applications.

Automa Building Products are focused on bringing this and other manifold advantages of EPS in building to the South African market.

There is little realization in this country of the influence of both the heat soak effect and alternatively the lowering of internal dwelling temperatures caused by concrete floor slabs and the ground underneath. It is however quite logical when it is considered that the sun never reaches these areas and so there is no opportunity for heat gain.

TUFS – Thermal Under Floor Insulation System:

TUFS installed under a concrete ground floor slab provides in excess of 20 times improved thermal insulation than not having it.

The system is quite simple and easy to install.

Automa Building Products- Foundation walls are built as normal leaving out the top brick of the internal wall skin where the floor slab is to be. The ground is compacted to a level 20-25 mm below the upper surface of this brick. The 1.2 x 1.2 m, tongued and grooved 40 mm thick expanded polystyrene (EPS) TUFS sheets are glued together with an expanded polystyrene contact adhesive – Polyglue and placed on the compacted soil, cutting where necessary to fit with a sharp knife.The postioning of the TUFS sheets at this level means that it replaces 20-25 mm of concrete in the floor slab (the EPS is cheaper than the concrete it replaces). Ref 100 steel mesh is then placed over the entire area spaced off the TUFS sheets with 35mm high, 40mm square EPS spacers, which are supplied as part of the system. These spacers positon the mesh where it is most effective in preventing shrink cracking at the surface of the concrete. 60-65mm thick concrete is then placed over the TUFS and leveled as normal.

- The TUFS system is actually cheaper than a standard 85 mm concrete slab. Why? Firstly the glued TUFS sheets replace the normal green plastic which is required as a DPC (EPS is impervious to water).

The positioning of the TUFS sheets replaces 20-25 mm of concrete thickness and as stated above the EPS is cheaper.

Automa Building ProductsThe only reason why ground floor concrete slabs are 85 mm thick is because this is the height of a brick and when removing the internal brick for the slab the top of the external brick is used as a template to level the floor slab. There is no structural requirement for the slab to be this thickness, it is a convenience factor. Finally as the TUFS concrete slab portion contains 25 % less concrete the mesh size needed to constrain it from shrink cracking can be reduced from Ref193 to Ref100.

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Ref100 is about half the price of Ref193.

TUFS therefore gives the considerable benefit of thermal insulation at a material cost saving of between 12-15%.

Where under floor heating is used TUFS should be obligatory as the insulation results in the heat generated going into the house and not the floor slab and ground beneath. the underfloor heating system can therefore be used for a couple of hours a day in cold periods rather than 12- 24 hours.

In the drive to build more comfortable, energy efficient houses every new house built should start with TUFS.


Polyblock is walling a method that fits into the generic category of systems known internationally as ICFs (insulated concrete forms). 

Polyblock is a hollow expanded polystyrene building block: 1200mm (l) x 180mm (w) x 300mm (h) that fits together like a lego set. The blocks are filled with reinforced concrete. The wall structure is therefore concrete with the polystyrene blocks remaining in place to act as a thermal insulator and moisture barrier.

The system is finished off with a propriety EPS plaster – Polyplast.

The method of construction is quick, lightweight and easy and provided a few basic rules are followed walls are level and perpendicular.

Automa Building ProductsDue to the concrete strength specified walls are 2,5 to 3 times as strong as brick walls. Builders can build effectively with the system with only a couple of days training. Electrical and plumbing conduit and piping is run in the walls before the placement of concrete.Depending on the complexity of the building walls can be built 3-5 times faster than conventional brick

All standard types of windows and doors and roofing systems can be used in conjunction with Polyblock.

TASS- Thermal, acoustic multi storey slab system:

Automa Building ProductsTASS combines a moulded, high density, expanded polystyrene ‘void former’ with a 350MPa pre galvanized, cold rolled lipped channel to support a reinforced concrete floor slab topping. It competes directly with concrete rib and block, concrete in situ and coffer slab systems. The polystyrene blocks stay in place and act as a thermal and sound insulator in the slab.

The benefits therefore are much improved thermal and acoustic insulation, reduced energy consumption required for heating and cooling, quickness and ease of installation and in many instances TASS is less expensive than competing systems.

TASS can be used in all floor and roof slab applications from residential, commercial and industrial through to shopping centres and public buildings.

Free spanning capability ranges from 5-11 metres which is obtainable through the 4 different TASS block depths. The higher TASS blocks create deeper beams to allow longer spans.

TASS is available through a growing network of licensed structural engineers, who do the design, material supply and on site inspections.

Automa Building ProductsTASS is becoming increasingly competitive against rival concrete slab systems as the cement price continues to increase - TASS uses less concrete in its make up, particularly as the slab depth increases to enable greater slab spans to be achieved.

For more details visit the Automa Building Products website.

Contact details:

Craig Paton–Ash 
Mobile number 082 317 9705
email: This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

Rodney Van Dam 
Mobile number 083 380 3620
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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 02 October 2007 )
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