High-tech insulation facing system solves installation challenges for contractor

Installing floor-to-ceiling ductwork in a 200,000 square-foot manufacturing plant was a straightforward-enough job for EDO Insulation Company Inc., a Trenton, NJ-based insulation contractor. Add to it that the basement, first floor and penthouse ceilings varied in height from 32 to 24 feet, that the work had to be started in an unheated plant during winter months, and that the entire facility needed to be washed down on a regular basis once it was completed, and things began to get complicated.

To address the challenges, EDO President Bill Hickey submitted VentureCladTM (1577CW® white), a cold-weather, all-purpose pressure-sensitive jacketing system that was easy to use and required no off-site fabrication. The customer job specs, however, called for mastic, a material that requires considerable preparation to install.

The customer, pharmaceutical company ImClone Systems Inc., had finalists submit mock-ups of the proposed installation. EDO, which has completed numerous jobs in the health care and biotech industries, eventually won the contract.

Cutting Labor in Half

EDO Project Manager Bill Cimorelli initially hesitated to use the new pressure-sensitive insulation jacketing. "The job called for mastic, which would have been a monster to install," he said. "Our president suggested this new jacketing material and, although I was hesitant at first to use it, it proved to be the best decision we made. I can't calculate the labor savings it realized for us on this job."

VentureClad is an all-purpose insulation facing jacket designed for use by contractors and fabricators working in cold weather and rugged environments. Used for sealing insulation over ductwork, it is weatherproof and weather resistant and as tough as metal, but easier to install. Compared to sheet-metal jacketing, which can be costly, it requires no additional rivets, strapping or sealants. Plus, the product will not delaminate like some butyl rubber products do over time. It also requires no pinning of the bottom of the ducts.

"We put the finishing touches on the job about 18 months after starting," Cimorelli said. "This is the normal amount of time it would take to finish a job of this magnitude. However, if it weren't for the facing system we used, we would have required double the manpower."

Material control was also a factor. Mastic is difficult to apply, requiring large amounts of polyethylene to protect against overspray onto cable trays, piping ductwork and other areas. And, it's difficult, if not impossible, to get a consistent thickness. The facing adhesive, on the other hand, is consistent and covers all of the ductwork evenly. In addition, layers of ducts on top of each other with only narrow openings to insulate would have made getting the mastic in extremely difficult.

Ground Installation Faster, Safer

To conceal the pins, the adhesive manufacturer custom-cut 4" x 4" squares on the roll that were used to cover where installers fastened the insulation. The entire installation was done on the ground and then raised into place.

"We couldn't have done it this way with any other product," Cimorelli said. "In addition to being much easier and faster to install this way, it was much safer for our workers to apply the insulation on the ground and not in the air."

Cimorelli credits the approach with not only saving time, but also improving work conditions. "One of the reasons we wanted to use this product was because we could apply it on the ground," he says. In fact, the installation process was so unique, contractors from a local HVAC firm came by to see it.

"Using mastic would have been quite time-consuming and the clean-up would have been brutal," says Cimorelli. "This clean-up was much easier, and the jacketing protects everything better."

VentureClad can be used for cold-weather installations in temperatures down to -10°F. Studies suggest that it can save contractors at least 30% or more in labor costs.

Bob La Morte, manager of S.W. Anderson's former Linden, NJ, branch, recommended the VentureClad product to EDO. "It's the best product I've seen for weatherproofing and sealing insulation in my 30 years in the insulation industry for ease of handling, application, productivity, and clean up."

Zero Permeability a Key Factor

Another major consideration was VentureClad's zero permeability. "Because the plant is used for pharmaceutical production, there is tremendous filtering of the air," Cimorelli said. "The product needed to be washed down without the possibility of retaining moisture. The alternative product has .05 permeability, which means that water could be absorbed into it, causing it to crack. But this jacketing, which is a multi-layer laminate construction, has zero permeability and is mold-inhibiting. It is also puncture- and tear-resistant, making it the product of choice for this particular application."

The jacketing system could also be installed in the cold, unlike mastics, which need to be stored in heated rooms, or butyl products that require activators. "We had no heat during the winter months of this installation, and the clock was ticking," Cimorelli said. "Being able to work with it in cold weather was a tremendous advantage."

VentureClad can be cut with a utility knife. Installers also appreciated that it was easy to clean up each day. The product is flame retardant and is UL listed. It comes in a variety of colors, including natural aluminum, white, black and natural embossed versions. It has been used in ductwork installations in a number of food processing and manufacturing plants, as well as health care facilities.

"This facing product is tremendously cost-effective because it's so easy to use," Cimorelli said. "Insulation companies need to know about this. Once I used it, I would never want to use another product again. It saved us so much time; I would definitely sell the upgrade or spec it in. We'd more than recover in labor costs. It gives skilled installers greater flexibility, allowing them to bid more competitively in an ever-changing construction market."

Ed Sore has worked with Venture Tape Corp. for the past 24 years, serving as insulation sales manager for 12. For more information about insulation facing systems, call Venture Tape at (800) 343-1076 (U.S.) or (0) 800-962-957 (U.K.); or visit http://www.venturetape.com .