Durability assessment of external thermal insulation composite systems in urban and maritime environments

J. L. Parracha, G. Borsoi, R. Veiga, I. Flores-Colen, L. Nunes, C. A. Viegas, L. M. Moreira, A. Dionísio, M. Glória Gomes, P. Faria

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External Thermal Insulation Composite Systems (ETICS) are multilayer solutions which provide an enhanced thermal performance to the building envelope. However, significant anomalies can be detected on ETICS facades, in some cases shortly after the application of these systems. This study intends to evaluate and compare the durability of six commercially available ETICS after two years of outdoor exposure at both urban and maritime conditions in Portugal. The systems were characterized by means of non-destructive testing (i.e., visual and microscopic assessment, water transport properties, thermal conductivity, surface roughness), thus allowing to evaluate the performance loss throughout natural aging. The bio-susceptibility and aesthetic properties (color and gloss) were also investigated. Results showed that the performance and durability of the complete system is significantly affected by the rendering system formulation. The lime-based specimens obtained the highest rate of mold development after one year of aging in a maritime environment, becoming considerably darker and with lower surface gloss. Fungal analysis of this darkish stained area indicated the presence of mold species of the genera Alternaria, Didymella, Cladosporium and Epicoccum, and yeasts of the genera Vishniacozyma and Cystobasidium. An increase of both capillary water absorption and water vapor permeability was also registered for the aged lime-based specimens. Acrylic-based systems obtained lower capillary water absorption after aging and greater dirt deposition on their surfaces, especially in urban conditions. These systems had also higher color variation and surface gloss decrease and slightly higher mold growth, when compared with those aged in a maritime environment. Finally, no mold growth was detected on the silicate-based specimens after two years of aging. However, these specimens obtained higher capillary water absorption and lower vapor permeability after aging, possibly leading to moisture accumulation within the system. Results contribute towards the development of ETICS with enhanced performance and durability.

Original languageEnglish
Article number157828
Number of pages16
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2022


  • Biocolonization
  • Durability
  • Natural aging
  • Surface properties
  • Water resistance


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