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Generally you have a lot of different building material options when it comes to building your home including but not limited to brickwork, cladding, Autoclaved Aerated Concrete or AAC, rubix panels, etc…
Just to be clear, there is no right or wrong as to which building material you should use. This will come down to your requirements, preferences, what works and doesn’t work for you or your investment etc…
So in this blog, I will discuss 5 reasons why you should use AAC…
What is AAC?
AAC is a relatively lightweight concrete that’s manufactured to contain lots of closed air pockets. It is produced by:
- adding a foaming agent to concrete in a mold then
- wire-cutting blocks or panels from the resulting ‘cake’ and
- ‘cooking’ them with steam; otherwise known as autoclaving
This product was introduced about over two decades ago in Australia and is dominated by one manufacturer, Hebel, at the time of writing this blog.
Due to its aerated structure, it provides a much better thermal and sound insulation compared to other building materials. It does not burn so it makes for a great party wall.
Although it is one-fifth the density of normal concrete, it still has half the bearing strength, and loadbearing structures (up to three storeys high) can be safely erected with AAC blockwork.
I will refer interchangeably between AAC and Hebel as Hebel is the dominant player in the market today. I am not promoting Hebel as such, however I am promoting the idea of considering AAC as an alternative building material. I honestly think it’s a mistake if you do not at least look at using it as an alternative building material.
Here is an example of the Hebel Panels installation. Please note that this is not my picture and I am using it for illustrative purposes only.
The 5 Reasons
Reason 1: Better Insulation
Thermally, AAC performs better compared to brick veneer. It generally achieves higher R ratings than an otherwise equivalent brick veneer wall, assuming all else stays the same with your framework, insulation, etc…
Its insulation properties allows it to be far more energy efficient which is great for reducing your electrical bills.
Acoustically, it performs really well as a sound insulation system given its closed air pockets.
Reason 2: Excellent Fire Resistance
AAC is incombustible and does not explode so it achieves fire compliance easily and it’s much better from a BASIX perspective. AAC is well known for:
- its fire resistant properties
- it is an inorganic building material
- it achieves Fire Resistance Levels up to 4 hours
Below is a quick example of a Hebel (AAC) Party Wall. Please note that this is not my picture but I am using it for illustrative purposes only:
Reason 3: Faster Build
Building with AAC can means faster construction times. According to Hebel, each of their panels is equivalent to 75 traditional bricks which means that the external walls of a 150sqm home can go up in just 3 days when installed by an experienced Hebel installer.
This is really great specially if you want to reduce your build time to move into your family home or rent out your investment property as quick as possible.
Reason 4: Environmentally Friendly
Given its manufacturing methodology, AAC’s much higher insulation value reduces heating and cooling energy consumption which is always good for the environment. AAC can be cut exactly to your requirements on site and any offcuts from construction can be returned to the manufacturer for recycling, or be sent out as concrete waste for reuse in aggregates.
You can even use some of the pieces for building garden walls or landscape features.
Reason 5: Strength
This is a common concern with a lot of my clients; specially when it comes to its strength specially when compared to Brickwork. Whether you use brickwork, cladding, AAC, etc…, the strength of your home is generally in your framework structure and not just the skin you use.
There are cladding homes that have lasted decades so claiming brickwork’s strength over AAC, or any other material for that matter, is not a reason not to use AAC.
Having said that, AAC panels and lintels contain integral steel reinforcement to ensure structural adequacy during installation and design life so it’s a fairly strong alternative.
Obviously using AAC, brick or any other building material will depend mainly on your preference (and subject to any policy restrictions). If you like the traditional look of brickwork, then that is what you will use to build your home.
However, I hope this blog has given you sufficient information to intrigue your curiosity around using AAC as an alternative; for your next home build.