Evaluation of the performance of Expanded Polystyrene Panels (EPS) in comparison with common masonry as a walling unit in construction
Gisa, Ngabo Andrew
Jamal, Mustafa Abdirahman
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According to a study we carried out through distributing 50 questionnaires randomly to individuals renting in Kampala, part of the reason for the high percentage of the population settling in rental accommodation was the high construction cost of raising a residential shelter. And this high cost was attributed to expensive materials both in maintenance cost and cost of obtaining the materials, the labour cost and the construction duration (Alinaitwe, et al., 2013). According to a study by (Gitau, 2014 ), the study concluded that construction using expanded polystyrene (EPS) panels led to a 50% time saving and a 30% cost saving through reduced labour, transport and hiring of construction equipment such formwork and the omission of members such as columns and beams. Hence the project aimed at evaluating the compressive strength, thermal stability, flammability, surface hardness and water absorption, and the results obtained were to be compared to common masonry properties to evaluate whether the EPS would be a worthy substitute for the masonry units in the industry in Uganda. The test methods included, laboratory tests and on-site tests and it was concluded that the compressive strength of the polystyrene was in the range of the masonry units stated in (Gumaste, et al., 2004), with the polystyrene having higher water absorption however with its properties not being badly affected by the water absorption, and the polystyrene in its sandwiched state between concrete proved to have proper thermal stability and flammability properties in range with the masonry units. The study recommended the use of a spray pump to apply the concrete to EPS material at a high pressure to ensure the concrete reached all areas of the crest and trough EPS with low sized aggregates, since it was observed the concrete in some cases did not reach beneath the mesh. It was also recommended that care had to be taken during the storage and use of the EPS panels to ensure the material was not exposed to high temperatures as it was not stable at these high temperatures exceeding 100oC.