Rethink renovation materials to ensure safety and performance

Tuesday Oct 10th, 2017


by Scott McGillivray

We're fortunate in Canada to be protected by strong building codes that ensure our homes are safe and efficient. Building codes set out what we need to achieve and standards that need to be met, but typically, the choice of building materials remains at the discretion of the homeowner or contractor. That's where potential lies to either get things right or to make costly mistakes. That's because not all building materials are created equal. And one of the riskiest places to cut corners is with what's behind your walls.

When it comes to budgets, many people mistakenly believe that what you don't see doesn't really matter, and instead opt to focus on finishes. Yet, the opposite is true. Take insulation, for example. Some insulation materials can settle and compact over time, affecting the R-value. Others are susceptible to mould and mildew should they come into contact with moisture, which can create serious air quality issues, impacting occupant health. I always advocate using quality building materials that will stand the test of time and conditions.

It's best to seek a product that provides multiple advantages, like Roxul Comfortbatt, Safe 'n' Sound and Comfortboard insulation. Non-combustible and made from inorganic materials, this insulation will not only resist ignition when exposed to fire, it won't contribute to harmful smoke or toxic gases. Instead, it will slow the spread of fire, protecting escape routes to provide extra time to get to safety. Inorganic stone wool also resists moisture and is ideal for basement applications or areas with higher humidity. It offers great thermal performance and sound resistance, and is easy to install, cutting with a simple bread knife. Importantly, it's also dimensionally stable, which means it will stay in place to provide durability and performance over the life of the building.

I always recommend choosing quality materials over lesser options. Cheap alternatives may seem attractive at first, but rarely prove so over the long run. Quality materials should offer a variety of benefits. Don't hesitate to ask questions. Does it help with fire safety? Is it sustainable and environmentally friendly? Will it perform? Will it last? How will it impact air quality, occupant comfort, and efficiency? Materials matter, and when you consider lifecycle costs, quality products are usually the better choice. Ultimately, no one wants to replace or repair something down the road that should have gone the distance.

Scott McGillivray is the host of the hit HGTV series Income Property and Moving the McGillivrays, a full-time real estate investor, contractor, author, and educator.

Tags: renovations

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