What is a barrier wall system? All you need to know

What is a barrier wall?  

Barrier walls are a cost-effective alternative to a cavity or solid walls.  

The term ‘barrier wall’ is used to refer to a system of an external wall assembly that maintains weather-tightness. Thereby preventing any moisture from penetrating beyond the outermost surface and into the wall itself. The barrier walls are essentially moisture-tight constructions.  

Materials used for barrier walls –  

The cladding material should be impenetrable to the elements. Common examples of barrier wall systems include:  

  • Single skin metal wall panels 

Firstly, single skin metal panels reflect strips of pre-painted metal that are formed into various profiles or shapes. Compared to other materials, these are flexible, lightweight, and easy to install.  

  • Solid-metal wall cladding 

Metal cladding is a type of protective coating. Such as metal powder or foil thats bonded to a substrate by applying heat and/or pressure. The wear protection is generally very reliable and cost-effective.  

  • Insulated metal wall panels 

Insulated metal panels are exterior wall and roof panels with steel skins and an insulated foam core.

  • Exterior insulation and finishing system 

Finally, it’s an exterior wall cladding that utilizes rigid insulation boards on the exterior of the wall sheathing with a plaster appearance exterior skin. 

The exterior cladding is a barrier wall system that serves as the main drainage plane. However, this differs from a cavity wall system where the main drainage plane and defensive line against bulk rainwater penetration is inside the cavity.  

In addition, a barrier wall system often has a lower initial cost.

The exterior cladding is a wall system that serves as the main drainage plane. However, this differs from a cavity wall system where the main drainage plane and defensive line against bulk rainwater penetration is inside the cavity.  


All there is to know about a cavity wall

What is a cavity wall?  

A cavity wall is constructed with two separate walls for single wall purposes with some space or cavity between them. They can be described as consisting of two “skins” separated by a hollow space (cavity). The skins typically are masonry, such as brick or cinder block. Masonry is an absorbent material that can slowly draw rainwater or even humidity into the wall. One function of the cavity is to drain water through weep holes at the base of the wall system or above windows.  

What is the purpose?  

The purpose of a cavity wall is to ensure that the inner skin of the wall remains dry and that no moisture penetrates the inside of the building. 

History of the cavity wall – 

Cavity walls existed in Greek and Roman times, but only developed as a component of more recent construction in the 18th and 19th centuries. Even during this time, they were very rare. The use of metal ties to connect the two skins only emerged in the second half of the 19th century and then became more common towards the beginning of the 20th century. In the UK, most new, external masonry walls have been cavity walls since the 1920s.  

Insulation –  

Cavity wall insulation is used to reduce heat loss. This happens by filling the air space with material that inhibits heat transfer. This immobilises the air within the cavity, preventing convection, and can substantially reduce space heating costs.  

During the construction of new buildings, cavities are often filled with glass fibre wool or mineral wool panels placed between the two sides of the wall.

Advantages of cavity walls –  

  • They act as good sound insulators  
  • Economically they are cheaper than solid walls  
  • They also reduce the weights on foundation because of their lesser thickness  
  • Moisture content in outer atmosphere is not allowed to enter because of hollow space between the skin. So, they prevent dampness  
  • Cavity walls give better thermal insulation than solid walls. It is because of the space provided between two skins of cavity walls is full of air and reduces heat transmission into the building from outside. 
Interior Design, Materials

Lights And Their Different Switches

There are many different types of light switches. Here below are the most popular light switches in the UK. Changing your bulbs and switches can have a huge impact on a room turning it from dim and dark to a bright and a more open room. Updating these allows you to change the effect of the room in many different ways. 

Types of light switches  

  • Single pole switch  
  • Double pole switch 
  • Flip switch  
  • Rocher switch  
  • Three-way switch  
  • Dimmer switch 
  • Proximity switch 
  • Motion activated switch 

Single Pole Light Switches 

This light switch is the most commonly switch used across homes. The switch is mainly across the UK due to its low cost and easy installation. 

Double Pole Switch 

This switch is commonly used in homes as well. This switch would be used if there are two light bulbs in one room. This light switch is also easy to install. 

Flip Switch 

A flip switch is essentially the same as a single pole switch. These switches do exactly the same thing but you can flip/toggle the switch instead. 

Rocher Switch  

This is more of an appealing and decorative look. These switches are quite common in the UK. Its function is very similar to flip switches. 

Three-way Switch 

This switch helps control a light from two different places. For example, the light above the stairs, you can control it from the bottom and top of the stairs. This will prevent you from falling because of the dark. 

Dimmer Switch 

A dimmer switch is used to increase and decrease the brightness of the light. 

Motion Activated Light Switch  

This is an electronic switch that uses sensors to detect the presence of people in a room. When it detects someone the light switches on but when it can’t it will turn off. You’ll have come across these lights if you have installed security systems in your home. These lights work by detecting motion.

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What you should know about Glue laminated timber (glulam)

What is glue-laminated timber? 

Glue laminated timber also known as glulam is a type of structural engineered wood constituted by layers of dimensional lumber. They are bonded together with durable and moisture-resistant structural adhesives.  

How it’s used –  

Glulam has a reputation for being used in exposed applications such as vaulted ceilings and designs with large open spaces. Glulam is used when you seek a combination of structural and aesthetic attributes. Glue laminated timber can also work behind the scenes, as floor beams, trusses, cantilevers, and other structural elements.  

What is the best glues for laminating wood?  

  • Gorilla wood glue 

This is one of the top picks when it comes to laminating wood.  

Compatible material: Wood 

Colour: Natural wood colour  

Clamp time: 20 to 40 minutes. Clamping means you have to wait a certain amount of time before you can let go of the wood.  

Curing time: 24 hours. However, once the wood is clamped you need to wait a day for the wood to be completely glued together.  

  • Loctite epoxy five minute  

This is the second most popular type of glue. For starters, it’s the only glue that comes in a syringe packet. This is a good thing because it will be easier to apply the glue to any corners that need fixing. This also has the least required setting time.   

Compatible material: Wood, glass, ceramic, plastic, concrete, etc 

Colour: Yellow. Because this glue is yellow it means it will be extra strong, however, it will leave some yellow marks.  

Package information: Syringe 

Setting time: 5 minutes 

When using it on laminating wood make sure that you clean the excess glue after you’re done. Otherwise, it could stain and could ruin the aesthetics.  

  • Gorilla polyurethane glue 

This gorilla glue is quite different compared to the other one. This glue is actually polyurethane-based glue. It offers incredible adhesion properties and this glue is waterproof.  

Compatible material: Wood, foam, glass, ceramic, concrete, metal, stone.  

Colour: Brown 

Setting time: 1 to 2 hours  

Curing time: 24 hours 

Advantages and disadvantages of glulam 

Advantages –  

  • Availability  

This type of timber is easily available in different sizes in the market. It is available in sizes 45mm x 45 mm to 250mm x 1800mm x 30m. Glulam is made by joining many blocks of wood, which means it is easily available in large to small sizes.  

  • Easy to use  

Glulam timber is easier to use than steel and concrete. This is because it doesn’t require much material and it makes the house feel warm and comfortable.  

  • Durability  

This timber is 2 to 3 times more durable than steel and concrete. To increase the durability of your wooden project, it is important to choose the right wood species. You should choose the wood species according to your project. 

  • Anti-bugs  

Usual wood over time is likely to rot and become hollow, due to bugs that eat and live in the wood. This is likely to cause the structure to become weak. Whereas, glue-laminated timber is completely solid because it’s made by joining several layers together.  

Disadvantages –  

  • Price  

The price of glue-laminated timber is higher than normal timber.   

  • Quality  

Glulam timber is made by joining pieces of timber together. If defective timber is used in the middle of the block during production, this malfunctioning timber can cause the entire timber block to deteriorate.  

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The advantages and disadvantages of thermally modified wood

Thermally modified wood definition – 

Thermally modified wood is wood that has been modified by a controlled pyrolysis process of wood being heated. In absence of oxygen inducing some chemical changes to the chemical structures of cell wall components in the wood in order to increase its durability. 

How to modify the wood –

The wood is placed in a chamber and is gradually heated to 210 – 230 Celsius, and completely void of oxygen to prevent combustion.

The purpose of the wood –  

The bending strength of the wood is reduced during the heating process. So, thermally modified wood is not suitable for structural applications. It is commonly used for non-load-bearing applications such as decking, flooring, wall paneling. As well as ceilings, accent walls, and interior and exterior doors.  

the sustainability of modified wood – 

Going green has never been more crucial than it is now. The process of thermal modification involves zero chemicals, eliminating the harsh toxic substances, that are often in building materials. Sourcing the wood carefully and thoughtfully, while thinking about how to best optimize performance is key for sustainable growth.  

Advantages and disadvantages to using this wood –  

Advantages –  

  • Free of chemicals  

This process only heats and cures the wood. There are no harmful chemicals or toxins that go into the process. Chemicals in wood are dangerous to touch and breathe but you won’t have to worry about that with this wood.  

  • Sustainability  

The modification process will naturally create longer-lasting wood, which will lead to less deforestation in the future. Although, this is contributing to a sustainable building future. 

Disadvantages –  

  • More expensive  

As well as, the original lumber, you will also be paying for the modification process. However, the price will also depend on where you live and the type of wood that you use.  

  • Becomes brittle  

After heating the wood to such a high temperature, a popular complaint is that the wood becomes brittle. This has people wondering how stable the wood can actually be.  

  • Could burn faster 

Due to the low moisture content, the thermally modified wood could end up burning quicker and easier.  

Americana™ Thermally Modified Wood Decking

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Architecture & Building, Materials

All there is to know about Cross-laminated timber (CLT)

What is CLT? 

Cross-laminated timber (CLT) is a wood panel product, made from gluing together layers of solid-sawn lumber. They’re usually stacked crosswise at a 90-degree angle and glued into place. Using an odd number of layers is most common.  

Advantages and disadvantages of using CLT 

Advantages –  

  • Eco-friendly.  

Cross-laminated timber is a renewable, green, and sustainable material.

  • Prefabrication.  

Floors or walls made from CLT can be manufactured before reaching the job site. Which decreases lead times and could potentially lower overall construction costs.  

  • Thermal insulation.  

Being made out of multiple layers of wood, the thermal insulation of CLT can be high depending on the thickness of the panel.  

  • CLT is a light building material  

Foundations don’t need to be as large and the machinery required on-site are smaller than those needed to lift heavier materials.  

Disadvantages –  

  • Higher production costs. 

The production of CLT panels requires a large amount of wood and other materials compared to stud walls. 

  • Flammability.  

Wood is very flammable, unlike other building materials such as steel.   

  • Limited track record.  

Cross-laminated timber is relatively new material. So, a large amount of research has been done on Cross-laminated timber. However, it takes time to integrate new practices.  

How much does cross-laminated timber cost?  

In addition, the cost of cross-laminated timber is usually around £30 per metre square. Or on the high end of the price spectrum, you can expect it to cost about £50 per meter square.  

The cost of materials and labour may be lower than the traditional steel or concrete. Cross-laminated timber also reduces the carbon footprint of buildings.  

It is durable?  

The CLT product has a life span of 60 years and there are occupied timber buildings in Europe that are over 700 years old. The key factor in the longevity of a timber structure is the management of moisture during the design stage.


Cross-Laminated Timber MM crosslam - MM Holz

Architecture & Building, Materials

Get to know the pros and cons of Insulated concrete formwork (ICF)

If you’re looking for a quick structural system with impressive energy performance. Then insulated concrete framework could be a great choice for your build project.  

What is ICF? 

ICF is based on hollow blocks or sheet components, usually made from expanded polystyrene, fastened together with metal or plastic connectors. The panels or blocks feature an interlocking profile, so they can be stacked without bonding materials. Concrete is then poured inside to make the structure secure.

Is ICF energy efficient?  

Once the pour is complete, the ICF remains in place to provide a robust layer of thermal insulation. ICF structures also offer very good airtightness, as the concrete pour and insulating formwork combine to create a highly sealed house shell. In addition, the different thicknesses of ICF blocks, with varying insulation depths, are available to help you achieve your target thermal performance.  

Pros and cons of Insulated concrete formwork –  


  • Speed of build  

The construction is simple and not labour-intensive. Insulated concrete formwork blocks are very similar to Lego blocks in the way they interlock and stack together.  

  • Durability 

ICF buildings are incredibly structurally sound due to the concrete and steel reinforcement that is incorporated into the walls. The buildings are known to be disaster-proof. 

  • Reduced energy bills  

They are incredibly energy efficient and can easily achieve an A rating. This level of efficiency means less energy is required to heat the home, which reduces the energy bill. Owners that have Insulated concrete formwork buildings have experienced as much as a 60% reduction in their energy bills.  

  • Peace and quite  

The blocks used in construction create thick and solid walls, which noise cannot penetrate. If noise is an issue in your area, or you live in a city but want peacefulness then, ICF maybe your best solution.  


  • The walls can be very thick. This can cause limited space in some areas, particularly cities.  

Cost of ICF –  

In addition, depending on the job, the formwork can be inexpensive or expensive. Most Insulated concrete formwork systems on sale cost between £25 and £35 meters squared.  

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The two types of green roofs: extensive vs intensive

If you’re interested in installing green roofs but are unsure of the different types, this blog is perfect for you. Carry on reading to understand the difference between extensive and intensive.  

Extensive green roof –

What are extensive green roofs?  

They are designed to be low-maintenance, lightweight systems with no general access. Typically, they have thin layers of the substrate to keep depth and weight to a minimum.  

The substrate depth of extensive green roofs is smaller than that found in intensive roofs, usually around 100-150mm. Because of their shallowness, extensive green roofs usually provide aesthetic ad environmental purposes. Rather than functioning as accessible roof space.  

Usually, extensive roofs use sedum vegetation due to its ability to flourish in harsh environments. They are able to withstand weather, especially wind, droughts, flooding, and extremely high or low temperatures.  

How to get the vegetation on the roof –  

Extensive green roof installations often come ready-made. They are rolled up in mats containing 10-22mm of growing medium and vegetation, meaning that it’s easily transportable to the installation site. These mats are usually laid upon another shallow layer of growing medium, which is then placed on the filter sheet and protection mat.  

The cost of extensive green roofs –  

This type of green roof tends to be a lot cheaper to buy and install compared to the intensive green roof. It is also often one of the most popular choices for residential properties because they are much lighter. They cost around £50 – £100 per square meter, however, they cost £75 on average.  

Green roofs - advantages a handful of the most important information

Intensive green roofs –  

What is an intensive green roof?  

They consist of much deeper substrates which give far greater scope to design and grow more complicated and elaborate gardens onto concrete structures. Intensive green roofs involve intense landscaping. They are suited to roofs with a highly visible presence or public access. 

The substrate depth of intensive green roofs is at the very least 120mm, and usually over 200mm, making it a lot deeper than the extensive. Because the substrate depth is deeper, they are able to support more vegetation. Such as: 

  • Flower beds 
  • Trees 
  • Shrubs 
  • Lawns 
  • Water features  
  • Benches  
  • Gravel paths  

Intensive green roofs are intended to replicate what can typically be found at ground level in the natural landscape, and in places such as parks and gardens. In fact, they are often referred to as roof gardens or parks.  

The cost of intensive – 

They are the more expensive type of roof; this is because they resemble conventional gardens. The maintenance and the running costs will be higher than extensive. They can also be highly expensive to install because they require elaborate drainage systems.  

Intensive green roofs can cost between £60 – £200, however, they average around £130.  


Bricks: Simple And Easy

Firstly the types of bricks are:

  • Sun-dried brick 
  • Burnt clay brick 
  • Fly ash brick 
  • Concrete brick 
  • Engineering brick 

Engineering Bricks  

However, these bricks have high compressive strength and low water absorption. These bricks are commonly found in a red colour although you can find them in a blue colour as well. 

Is this brick solid? 

So, this brick is detailed, square-edged, and solid. 

Can you drill into an engineering brick? 

This brick is extremely hard to drill into. Even though this brick is very strong, if drilled into with the wrong tools it could shatter or explode. 

Can you build a house with this brick? 

Yes. When having a construction project, you want a brick that is strong and durable. Also, this brick can withstand damp and cold weather. 

Burnt Clay Brick 

The common burnt clay bricks are constructed by pressing clay into Molds to take shape, and then dried and fired in a kiln. This brick is used for general constructions, for example, walls. 

What is this brick used for? 

These are commonly used in columns, walls, foundations, and more. 

Is a clay brick better than a concrete brick? 

Clay brick is three times stronger than concrete brick. 

Fly Ash Brick 

Fly ash bricks are made using the waste of thermal power plants. 


  • Firstly, they are light in weight as it is suitable for multi-floored buildings. 
  • This brick absorbs less heat  
  • Eco-friendly 


  • Slow strength gain. After the brick has set it gains strength the longer it’s there.  
  • Longer setting time 
  • Seasonal restrictions. Low temperatures increase the setting times and cause slow strength gain. 

Concrete Bricks  

In addition, concrete brick is a mixture of cement and sand formed in Molds and cured. 

Why are concrete blocks used? 

 So, these blocks have a hollow core to make them lighter and to improve insulation. 

Sun-Dried Brick

They are also known as adobe or mudbrick. It’s made from a mixture of sand, clay, and water mixed with a binding material such as rice husks or straw. Instead of using a kiln, these bricks are sun-dried. 

Where is sun-dried brick used? 

Finally, this brick is one of the oldest building materials that have been used for thousands of years to build houses, mosques, churches, palaces, and cities. 

professional construction worker laying bricks and building barbecue in an industrial site. Detail of hand adjusting bricks

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Design and Inspiration, Materials

Flooring And Its Pros And Cons

Wanting to change your flooring at home? Heres a list of different types of floors and their pros and cons.

Types of flooring 

  • Timber  
  • Laminate 
  • Bamboo 
  • Vinyl 
  • Cork 
  • Tile  
  • Carpet 
  • Rubber 
  • Poured floors 
  • Wood  
  • Engineered floors

What are the main types of flooring? 

  • Wood 
  • Vinyl 
  • Tile 
  • Carpet 
  • Engineered floors

Pros and cons  

Hardwood Pros 

Hardwood flooring is adaptable in its looks and can complement all types of interiors. 

  • Many options available 
  • Expensive  
  • Can be refinished multiple times (However this can be expensive) 
  • Strong and durable  
  • Increases home value 

Hardwood cons 

  • Expensive  
  • Can incur scrapes, scratches and dents 
  • Avoid water contact – You should avoid large amounts of water that will destroy the flooring with seepage. 
  • Cupping – This happens when the edges of the wood board is higher that the centre, due to the moisture content which has slowly happened will cause the wood to expand. 

Engineered wood pros 

  • Price 
  • Better temperature resistance  
  • Adds value to your home 

Engineered wood cons 

  • Maintenance 
  • Fading 
  • Potentially weak 

Carpet pros 

  • Warmth 
  • Cost 
  • Variety 

Carpet cons 

  • Stains 
  • Cost 
  • Variety 
  • Restricted (You don’t tend to find carpet in the kitchen or bathroom) 

Tile pros 

  • Easy to maintain 
  • Water resistant  
  • Durable 
  • Cost 

Tile cons 

  • Cold 
  • Heavy 
  • Slippery and hard 

Vinyl pros 

  • 100% Moisture resistant  
  • Low maintenance  
  • Easy to clean 
  • Easy DIY installation 
  • Cost 
  • Variety of décor options  

Vinyl cons  

  • Difficult to remove if glued down  
  • Can be punctured with very sharp objects  
  • Can dent with heavy objects on top 
  • Not bio gradable 
  • Can fade and discolour 

Things to consider when choosing flooring for your home 

  • Location – Not every type of floor is suitable for every room. You should pick wisely when picking flooring as engineered floors would be perfect for a kitchen however carpet would not be.You need to take into consideration what the use of the room will be before purchasing flooring for the space. 
  • Durability – Durability is important factor in your flooring decision because the quality of your floors can influence the value of your home. 
  • Price – Floors can vary in price. Stone floors are extremely expensive whereas tile and laminate flooring is quite reasonable.  
  • Family’s lifestyle – You need to consider the activities that take place in your home. For example, if you have children or pet’s carpet would be best. However, if it is just you and your partner you can take the pick of whichever suits you best.  
  • Maintenance requirements – it advised to check maintenance requirements of any floor so you know if your able to maintain it after it’s been installed.  

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