EPFA includes companies that share an interest in the use of phenolic foam products within the insulation industry. The members are either producers of phenolic foam insulation resin suppliers or are companies closely linked with the industry through the provision of raw materials.

Fire Performance

The fire performance of phenolic foam is exceptional. It combines zero or very low flame spread with negligible smoke emission and a very low level of toxic gas emission. Phenolic foam is a thermoset material therefore will not run melt or drip when it comes into contact with a fire source.

Phenolic foam can, in an appropriate form, achieve all the following European fire certifications:
EN 13501-1 Euroclass B-s1-d0
UK Class O / Low Risk in Scotland
Dutch NEN 6065/6066 Class 1
German B1
Belgian A1
French M1
Scandinavian NT 036 Class 1
AS / NZS 1530 Part 3 0,0,0,0-1
AS 3837 BCA Class 1

In addition, phenolic foam used in factory engineered composite panels can achieve up to 2 hours of fire resistance (insulation/integrity) in the 3m furnace test.

As part of a ventilated rainscreen façade or a rendered external insulated wall system phenolic foam can limit fire propagation up the outside of the building. Through testing to BS 8414 and BR 135 phenolic insulated systems can meet the UK Building Regulation requirements for use in high rise construction (above 18metres)

Phenolic foam evolves exceptionally low smoke when exposed to fire and is capable of meeting or exceeding all international building regulation requirements.

Toxic gas emission from phenolic foam is generally limited to carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide with very low levels of other gases. Phenolic foams can achieve very low toxic gas ratings in tests such as UK Naval Engineering Standard NES 713 and Scandinavian NordTest NT036.

Thermal Performance

Closed cell phenolic offers the best thermal resistance, i.e. the lowest thermal conductivity, of any readily available building insulation material. This results from its:

  • Closed cell structure
  • Very small cell diameter
  • Low thermal conductivity material and gas permanently encapsulated in cells

Closed cell phenolic foam is also notable in that the thermal properties do not deteriorate noticeably with time

Closed cell phenolic foam offers the following benefits:

The thermal conductivity or Lambda (λ) values range from 0.018 W/m.K depending on national certification requirements. Excellent low thermal conductivity allows reduction in long term energy costs whilst conforming to standard buildling constructions, as thin panels give very good insulation value.

Closed cell phenolic foam shows up to 100% more thermal resistance than other common insulation materials.

Higher thermal efficiency allows reduced insulation thicknesses to be used thereby saving valuable space, and enabling current and future building codes for energy, cost and CO2 saving to be easily met.

Structural Strength

Phenolic foams have an excellent strength/density relationship being lightweight but strong. Higher density phenolic foams are typically used for:

  • Pipe supports
  • Ducting panels
  • Duct supports
  • Steel faced composite panels (including walk-on ceilings)

Structural phenolic foam is typically made in 60, 80, 120 and 160 kg/m3 densities.
For the highest densitiy foams, 1m² of the product is capable of supporting the static weights set out below:
80 kg/m3       64 tonnes
120 kg/m3     112 tonnes
160 kg/m3     225 tonnes
This data is given as an example to clearly demonstrate the excellent structural performance of phenolic foam. Please check the exact specification with your supplier.

Phenolic foam has been used successfully in structural applications for over 20 years.

Moisture Resistance

Phenolic foam has been used successfully in insulation systems where moisture resistance is a key issue.
The reasons for this excellent performance are:
Phenolic foam has a low water vapour permeance and is therefore highly resistant to the passage of water vapour
Phenolic foam has low water absorption which takes place predominantly in the cut/broken surface cells of the foam
Phenolic foam is non-wicking. This means that if water enters the insulation system due to the vapour barrier becoming punctured, any moisture ingress is limited and confined to the punctured area. This ensures moisture does not build up and compromise the whole system


Phenolic foam has very low environmental impact per unit thermal performance when compared with many other insulation materials
Phenolic foam can help significantly reduce the CO2 emissions from new and existing buildings
Phenolic foam can make a significant contribution to the achievement of global, regional and national CO2 emission reduction targets
Phenolic foam is available in both CFC-free and HCFC-free form