BS EN 13164 is one of a number of harmonised European Standards relating to the manufacture of thermal insulation products for construction. It covers extruded polystyrene (XPS) specifically. The procedures outlined in the standard allow manufacturers to produce Declarations of Performance, conform to the Construction products Regulations, and affix the CE mark.

As a consequence of the UK leaving the European Union, the CE mark will no longer be recognised in the UK from the beginning of 2022. A new mark, the UK Conformity Assessed (UKCA) mark, will apply from that date.

What are harmonised standards for insulation products?

There is a sequence of harmonised European standards, each relating to a different thermal insulation type. For reference, the full list is as follows.

  • BS EN 13162 – mineral wool (MW) products.
  • BS EN 13163 – expanded polystyrene (EPS) products.
  • BS EN 13164 – extruded polystyrene foam (XPS) products.
  • BS EN 13165 – rigid polyurethane foam (PU) products.
  • BS EN 13166 – phenolic foam (PF) products.
  • BS EN 13167 – cellular glass (CG) products.
  • BS EN 13168 – wood wool (WW) products.
  • BS EN 13169 – expanded perlite board (EPB) products.
  • BS EN 13170 – products of expanded cork (ICB).
  • BS EN 13171 – wood fibre (WF) products.

All of these insulation standards follow a similar structure. They cover certain core product characteristics common to each material: thermal resistance and thermal conductivity; dimensional properties of length, width, squareness, flatness and thickness; the reaction to fire of the product as placed on the market; and durability characteristics.

As necessary for each product type, the standards also cover characteristics relating to specific applications.

Products are not expected to meet a particular level of performance for any characteristic, and the standards confer no judgement of fitness for purpose. Rather, the standards give the declarations that should be made when performance falls into certain brackets for each characteristic. It is these declarations that are published in the technical literature of manufacturers.

What do architects need to know about BS EN 13164?

Architects and design professionals do not need to be familiar with the contents of the insulation-related standards. It is enough to be aware that thermal insulation products are the subject of harmonised standards, and conformity assessed accordingly as an indication of quality and safety.

Harmonised standards put the onus on the product manufacturer by ensuring that similar types of products are manufactured, and their performance declared, in accordance with a common process and technical specification.

As part of that process, manufacturers have to demonstrate that they operate with a Factory Production Control (FPC) quality process in place. It is compulsory to declare certain performance characteristics of the product, while the declaration of others is at the manufacturer’s discretion depending on the product’s intended end use.

Declarations of Performance are another compulsory element of harmonised standards and CE marking, and are available on manufacturers’ websites. They indicate all of the characteristics covered by the particular standard and show the relevant declared results.

When is the CE mark changing to the UKCA mark?

As a result of leaving the European Union, the CE mark will no longer apply in the UK. Products intended to be sold in mainland Britain must instead bear the UKCA (UK Conformity Assessed). Different arrangements apply in Northern Ireland, featuring a combination of the UKNI mark and the CE mark.

UKCA marking started at the beginning of 2021. Where a standard still aligns with Europe, such as with BS EN 13164, an agreed transition period means that CE marking continues to be recognised in the UK until the end of 2021. At that point, only UKCA marked products will be recognised in mainland Britain. The UKCA mark, meanwhile, carries no weight in Europe.

In the short term, specifiers should see little change and XPS insulation will continue to be conformity assessed to BS EN 13164. As time goes on, however, and standards and legislative frameworks in the UK diverge from those of our European counterparts, more change might become evident.

As a manufacturer of extruded polystyrene, Polyfoam XPS manufactures and tests its products, and assesses them for conformity, against BS EN 13164. We manufacture at our Hartlepool plant and offer products for sale to the UK market.

As a result, we have already liaised with the relevant assessment bodies and begun to affix the UKCA mark to our XPS boards, instead of the CE mark.

We hope this answers any queries you may have had about CE marking, the UKCA mark, and the manufacture of thermal insulation products in the UK. For more information, you can view our product range, read more articles on our blog, or contact us with any further questions.