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View Full Version : Are polystyrene ceiling tiles unlawful?



Marky T
14-01-2008, 12:52 PM
I have just purchased a property which has foam ceiling tiles throughout the house. Do they need to be removed or can they be left inside the property?

Many Thanks

jeffrey
14-01-2008, 13:12 PM
I have just purchased a property which has foam ceiling tiles throughout the house. Do they need to be removed or can they be left inside the property?

Many Thanks
I have heard that they are a fire risk.

pcwilkins
14-01-2008, 13:22 PM
I have heard that they are a fire risk.

...but that wouldn't make them illegal; or would it? Unless the property is an HMO, perhaps.

I have never heard that polystyrene ceiling tiles are illegal. That doesn't mean they're not, though.

Peter

jeffrey
14-01-2008, 13:27 PM
...but that wouldn't make them illegal; or would it? Unless the property is an HMO, perhaps.

I have never heard that polystyrene ceiling tiles are illegal. That doesn't mean they're not, though.

Peter
Probably not unlawful- or else selling/fitting would be unlawful too.

Colincbayley
14-01-2008, 13:49 PM
I have just purchased a property which has foam ceiling tiles throughout the house. Do they need to be removed or can they be left inside the property?

Many Thanks

There is no law saying that you cannot have these in a rental property, except perhaps a HMO. However they are an EXTREME RISK, ( Just ask your local fire prevention officer! )

REMOVE THEM!

Marky T
14-01-2008, 13:53 PM
The property is going to be used as a single dwelling. I understand that they are illegal in HMO's.

Surrey
14-01-2008, 21:23 PM
Never mind whether they're illegal, they're just SO UGLY, and incredibly 70s! ;)

You could possibly find that the cost expended in getting rid of the things can be set off (in your head, at least) by the reduction in time to get the property let.

LadyHelena
14-01-2008, 21:37 PM
I've taken a fire warden course and seen footage of them in a fire, dropping from the ceiling in balls of flame. Nasty.

pete's properties
15-01-2008, 07:13 AM
Remember the old public information film from the '70's? I do! It said something like "polystyrene ceiling tiles...oh yes don't they look great! But Ted here has gone and painted them....and now they are a FIRE RISK!"

In other words, check to se if they have been painted.

:o

mathy
19-05-2008, 11:48 AM
Hi

Does a Landlord have a legal obligation to remove polystyrene ceiling tiles in a bedroom or is it just ggod practise to?

Thanks:)

porridge
19-05-2008, 12:01 PM
Hi

Does a Landlord have a legal obligation to remove polystyrene ceiling tiles in a bedroom or is it just ggod practise to?

Thanks:)

Just good practise

mathy
19-05-2008, 12:06 PM
Thanks - seems bad to me - should be a legal obligation for the Landlord to remove them!

porridge
19-05-2008, 12:41 PM
Thanks - seems bad to me - should be a legal obligation for the Landlord to remove them!

Hey - Hold on- PLEASE don't take my word as gospel and verse, I gave the answer based on my research just over a year ago. It may have changed since then (but doubt it)

As a suggestion though, why not mention to your Landlord that it is a serious danger, can he remove them? failing that, ask him permission for you to remove them (asking if he would cover decoration costs involved)

jeffrey
19-05-2008, 12:45 PM
I believe that the danger is in case of fire; the tiles melt hot goo onto you. Wonder who ever thought that they were A Good Idea?
When I bought my house, removing them from the dining-room ceiling was one of my first steps.

porridge
19-05-2008, 12:47 PM
I believe that the danger is in case of fire; the tiles melt hot goo onto you.
When I bought my house, removing them from the dining-room ceiling was one of my first steps.

Its also the smoke & fumes the tiles produce
(Fire Brigade don't like them at all !)

Mars Mug
19-05-2008, 12:59 PM
The big thing in the past with polystyrene tiles was their use in kitchens and if painted (with gloss paint I think), there used to be one of those public information adverts about it.

I can't view this at work, I'm guessing it's the one I'm thinking of;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xT7chxB45Ms

Snorkerz
12-01-2010, 07:46 AM
My property has 1960s polystyrene ceiling tiles in 2 rooms.

I have been told these are against the fire regs for a HMO, but can't find out which ones. Can anyone tell me where it says they're a no-no?

mind the gap
12-01-2010, 15:31 PM
Is this any use?

http://www.bradford.gov.uk/NR/rdonlyres/61EC5C6F-314B-4189-8A63-68E88081B9FF/0/Flats_in_Multiple_Occupation.pdf

mind the gap
12-01-2010, 17:10 PM
Or this : http://www.firesafe.org.uk/html/premises/domestic.htm

Moderator1
12-01-2010, 17:27 PM
Three threads on the same topic have been merged here.

mind the gap
12-01-2010, 17:34 PM
My property has 1960s polystyrene ceiling tiles in 2 rooms.

I have been told these are against the fire regs for a HMO, but can't find out which ones. Can anyone tell me where it says they're a no-no?

They offend against taste and decency if nothing else, especially as they are invariably painted with tangerine or turquoise gloss paint (or both).

Emma1973
12-01-2010, 18:31 PM
On the grounds that MTG has listed above, if they aint a crime, they should be! :D

mind the gap
12-01-2010, 18:42 PM
Yes. It is the First Law of Moving House that the first thing you will need to do before you can sleep at night is to scrape off the nasty purple or orange polystyrene tiles from your bedroom ceiling.

What I don't understand is that although they are everywhere, you never find anyone who (i) likes them or (ii) will admit to having put them up in the first place. They are obviously a huge embarrassment. Wonder if they will ever come back in favour as retro-tiles.

I suppose they are a bit like bell bottomed trousers, only more widespread.

Mars Mug
12-01-2010, 21:39 PM
The old public information film about polystyrene tiles warned of the significant fire risk created when they were painted with gloss paint.

http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/FILMS/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Charley-Says-Public-Information-Films/dp/B00005KFVL

quarterday
12-01-2010, 21:54 PM
Chop em out right away

Mrs Jones
13-01-2010, 13:58 PM
It is not just painting them with gloss paint - it is also the practice of instead of covering the whole tile with adhesive, only putting say 5 dots of adhesive on when putting them up - this means there is a narrow gap over the whole area of the ceiling which enables the fire to travel between ceiling and tiles so that the fire spreads far more quickly as well as poisoning you with fumes and dripping burning polystyrene all over the place.

I would not wish to stay anywhere where these tiles are still in use. I am amazed that you can still get them (if you can??).

mind the gap
13-01-2010, 14:03 PM
I would not have thought a gap such as you have described would have been so significant - isn't it more the case that because of the construction of the poystyrene, there is a huge surface area which can burn?

Even well-stuck down tiles are a serious fire risk, it seems.

Mrs Jones
13-01-2010, 14:10 PM
Even well-stuck down tiles are a serious fire risk, it seems.

You are quite right, but this lazy way of putting them up just exacerbates the risk.

AngelofSol
13-01-2010, 14:12 PM
If you've ever watched any of those neat documentariies on fires you might remember how fire can "jump" through spaces.

The tiles do have a large surface area to burn but since they leave a significant gap the air in such a space can "feed" the fire instead of perhaps quell the flames. Fire needs air to "breath and grow" so to speak, so the bigger the gap, with more combustible material the greater the hazard.

In the case of the tiles there is an excellent (for the fire) combination of factors that make it a significant hazard.

This same sort of thing can be seen with wood frame houses and sheet rock. The gaps in between the beams and the combustibility of the wood in extreame heat, like a house fire, cause the inferno to rage and grow and can spread throughout the entire house in no time flat.

If you've heard of fires traveling through walls and jumping rooms, leaving one area initially unscathed while erupting in another area of the house this would be that principle... dealing with air floor, draught, pull, space, combustibility.

Just a little bit of interesting stuff for today brought to you by the the letter D and the number 6.

arusha
13-01-2010, 14:17 PM
I am trying to remember from a landlord course I did a couple of years ago so I might not be remembering quite correctly but isn't it legally required that you do a fire risk assessment for all properties that you rent out. I believe a mental fire risk assessment is acceptable for non HMOs and it needs to be a documented one for HMOs.

Therefore if you have done a risk assessment and haven't identified that polystyrene tiles are a risk then you haven't done a very good job. If you have identified that they are a risk then surely as landlord you should have done something about it.

Therefore just because the tiles themselves aren't illegal, surely there is an argument to say the law is being broken because the risk assessment hasn't been done properly.

Mars Mug
13-01-2010, 14:19 PM
Not all polystyrene tiles are flammable, and if I remember rightly the public information film pointed this out, but the important point was painting with gloss paint changed the properties and made them highly flammable.

mind the gap
13-01-2010, 16:38 PM
Not all polystyrene tiles are flammable, and if I remember rightly the public information film pointed this out, but the important point was painting with gloss paint changed the properties and made them highly flammable.

I have always been given to understand that gloss paint - being oil-based and thus flammable - adds to the risk simply because the tiles' construction and huge available surface area (see my last post) allows them to soak up vast quantities of the paint (compared with a traditonal ceiling surface, for example), hence the increased fire risk. Gloss paint is not a significant risk on the same surface area of skirting board, for example.

Mars Mug
13-01-2010, 23:47 PM
Here;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xT7chxB45Ms

There also used to be one about painting crash helmets and how the paint affected the properties of the helmet making them brittle.

Snorkerz
13-01-2010, 23:53 PM
Just an update - local council has declared:

Not allowed in hallways, stairs and landings
Not Recommended in other HMO areas.

mind the gap
14-01-2010, 00:05 AM
Here;

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xT7chxB45Ms

There also used to be one about painting crash helmets and how the paint affected the properties of the helmet making them brittle.

Yes, I remember something like that too from my Hells Angel days :D

What a bizarre Public Service Announcement! 17the century Dutch 'domestic' art meets Monty Python.

And what dreadful taste that woman has in night attire. That quilted dressing gown deserved to go up in flames (not its wearer, of course).

Mars Mug
14-01-2010, 08:55 AM
That quilted dressing gown deserved to go up in flames (not its wearer, of course).

That was another film; I think it was kids in night clothes, a girl, stood by an open fire. Some of those films scarred me for life.

Snorkerz
14-01-2010, 08:57 AM
Some of those films scarred me for life.

Surely with a non-flame retardant nightie it was the little girl scarred for life?

Mars Mug
14-01-2010, 09:36 AM
I might have blocked that from memory, but I think the one with the small child pulling at a table cloth in the kitchen with a hot kettle on the table did end in pictures of scars?

Markonee1
14-01-2010, 14:00 PM
The gloss paint on the tiles is an increased fire risk, not because of the surface area... Who ever has a 'block' of paint in the house anyway LoL?; but because of the lack of a heat sink behind it.
I recently went to the house where I was born [literally], and the person who bought it off us in 1968, showed me around and had said how happy he was with it, and had raised 12 grand children there too. I assume they just visited.
However, part of the tour, took me to a bedroom that still had the polystyrene tiles from the late 1950's. He said whilst they are disliked by many, they are contemporary, and have never fallen off and have now become a feature. He even showed me the central heating that my father, an industrial heating engineer, had put in. The pipes were inch cast iron, that had never leaked, and so he knew not exactly where they went. Anthracite boiler had been replaced though.
I was amazed, that my birthplace had changed so little.
He is a former town planner!

mind the gap
14-01-2010, 15:43 PM
The gloss paint on the tiles is an increased fire risk, not because of the surface area... Who ever has a 'block' of paint in the house anyway LoL?;

I do not think you have understood what I said about surface area.

If gloss paint per se were a significant risk in normal quantities, then it would be banned from use on doors, skirting boards, etc. It is not. The reason why it represents an increased fire risk when applied to polystyrene tiles is because the surface of the tile is not smooth/flat (it is constructed of lots of tiny beads of polystyrene) which means there is a relatively large surface area to hold paint plus lots of tiny gaps between the beads where the paint can go. In other words the tiles hold more paint per square inch than for example doors or skirting boards.

Markonee1
14-01-2010, 16:13 PM
I do not think you have understood what I said about surface area.

If gloss paint per se were a significant risk in normal quantities, then it would be banned from use on doors, skirting boards, etc. It is not. The reason why it represents an increased fire risk when applied to polystyrene tiles is because the surface of the tile is not smooth/flat (it is constructed of lots of tiny beads of polystyrene) which means there is a relatively large surface area to hold paint plus lots of tiny gaps between the beads where the paint can go. In other words the tiles hold more paint per square inch than for example doors or skirting boards.

I think it depends on the tiles. Most I remember had very few gaps, because they are molded/fused on the surface. Try replicating the surface on a cut face. That is why they do not pass water if you make a container out of them.
Lack of heat dissapation is the dominating feature. That is also why 1 inch of styrene on inside of a 9 inch wall, covered in plasterboard, will drop heat loss to 1/3 of the wall on it's own

mind the gap
14-01-2010, 21:26 PM
I think it depends on the tiles. Most I remember had very few gaps, because they are molded/fused on the surface. Try replicating the surface on a cut face. That is why they do not pass water if you make a container out of them.
Lack of heat dissapation is the dominating feature. That is also why 1 inch of styrene on inside of a 9 inch wall, covered in plasterboard, will drop heat loss to 1/3 of the wall on it's own

Yes, that makes sense. Also (apparently) they burn incompletely so produce a lot of noxious smoke.

J4L
14-01-2010, 21:42 PM
I have been reliably informed that these tiles are not permitted in any room that has any appliance that contains a potential fire derived from anything as small as a spark!
Thus kitchens (obvioulsy) gas fire ignitions (living rooms) and any room that houses a boiler, again quite obvious.

Markonee1
14-01-2010, 22:20 PM
Yes, that makes sense. Also (apparently) they burn incompletely so produce a lot of noxious smoke.

Definitely.
I remember putting them on a bonfire, black styrene smoke is even worse than green brambles.
The town planner was rather pleased with them. I can't believe he liked them to start with; I guess he just found himself acting as custodian:eek:
I was more interested in the large open hearth in the living room that I used to lie in front of, watching the flames, but waiting for an ember to leap out...

Snorkerz
15-01-2010, 09:08 AM
I have been reliably informed that these tiles are not permitted in any room that has any appliance that contains a potential fire derived from anything as small as a spark!
Thus kitchens (obvioulsy) gas fire ignitions (living rooms) and any room that houses a boiler, again quite obvious.

I'd be interested if you could share your 'reliable source' as IF these are illegal then I need to be able to prove it.

Thanks

sapphiregem
26-04-2010, 13:34 PM
Hello all,

Any advice would be appreicated. I rented out my house 5 years ago via a letting agency who is also managing the property fully as I am living abroad. I have had the same tenants for the 5 years. The estate agents have just advised me that the ceiling in the kitchen is polystyrene and that this is illegal and needs to be replaced. Did this become illegal this year only? They didn't make mention of this when I first let out the property (ie during their initial inspection when various recommedations were made to me and all were responded to) or during any subsequent inspections since the property has been let (which they do quarterly). I look forward to hearing where I stand on this matter. The other thing that has come up is that several issues have been brought up at once....eg. lights not working in bedrooms, carpets coming away from the walls etc. The estate agent recommends refurbishing which may entail huge expense which may not be financially feasible for me currently. Thanks

Snorkerz
26-04-2010, 13:38 PM
I made an enquiry to my local council about this same subject 4 months ago - their response was:


With regard to your question about polystyrene tiles, they are not allowed on communal areas in HMOs ie halls, stairs and landings. For other parts of the building they are not recommended. Please see the link below to the LACORS guidance, for more details on all fire precautions for small HMOs,

http://www.lacors.gov.uk/lacors/upload/19175.pdf

A Housing Enforcement officer would be happy to advise you if you need further clarification. The number to ring is 00000 000000 and ask for Housing Enforcement.

scoobie24
20-01-2011, 23:05 PM
Currently looking at self contained properties for my daughter. The one she likes has poly ceiling tiles on 2 of the bedrooms, are there any fire regs concerning these ie insurance invalid or something similiar.

Not sure if I've read something about this lately.

Anyone know please let me have any info.

Thanks

Snorkerz
21-01-2011, 10:58 AM
I have it in writing from my local council that they are not illegal in a single dwelling. They are, of course, a risk in case of fire, but they are not identified as a fire risk per-se because they are unlikely to be the cause of a fire (you're not going to drop a match on the ceiling!!!).

LesleyAnne
21-01-2011, 11:04 AM
Ensure she has working, weekly tested smoke detectors. These tiles give off fumes and can accelerate the spread of a fire, but by the time the fire reached the ceiling height, I'd like to think I'd already been alerted by a smoke alarm and left the property!

mk1fan
21-01-2011, 11:05 AM
Rather longwinded thread.

To summerise. If your daughter is going to be living in the property then there's no legal / regulatory restriction of the tiles being there.

Yes, in a fire they are potentially an accelerant - if they catch fire - but they're not going to be the cause of a fire.

Oddly enough if installed properly they make a good vapour barrier.

Personally, I'd remove them but I won't rely on using as a negociation tool for a discount.

ETA - I read the OP as though you're looking to buy. The above still applies if the property being rented isn't an HMO.

lavy
21-01-2011, 11:10 AM
how long have they been, there your landlord might know as some of these ie the newer ones are fire resistant so you may have these type they are also good insulation so keep you warmer

GBPH
25-07-2011, 10:07 AM
Hi there. I have a property that has polystyrene tiles on the ceiling (on landing, above stairs and hall). Does anyone have any up to date info I may quote to the tenant stating that it's not illegal? I have heard that it's good practice to remove these tiles, but not illegal in an old build (tis illegal in a new build and HMOs). Due to finances I cannot remove these tiles just yet. Thanks. :-)

Snorkerz
25-07-2011, 10:45 AM
Speak to the Housing Licensing or Housing Enforcement officer at your local council. Get them to put their stance in writing, or even better, get a site visit with your tenant present.

I would consider some assurance to the T that this is high on your 'to do' list - boarding and skimming an average room ceiling shouldn't cost more than £200 - no need to remove the tiles, they are insulation. Maybe do one room as a gesture?

Interlaken
26-07-2011, 12:09 PM
I think the only time they are considered illegal is where they are covered with gloss paint and this has been the case for many years.

Amazingly you can still buy polystyrene tiles and coving - so not illegal in their basic format. A lot of insulation products out there are based on polystyrene.

LIZ KELLY
28-06-2012, 18:06 PM
I didn't want to to begin a new thread on the same topic hence I've put it here.
Just had a phone message off the leasing agent to say the property was left in good condition by the tenants, but we will need to get the kitchen and dining room ceilings 'up to code' (before we can begin a new lease and get new tenants) by having the polystyrene tiles removed and the whole lot re-skimmed.
I've tried to look through many posts on here to see if there's an answer but the most recent one seems to be from a year ago and also I'm not finding any concrete proof that this is a legal requirement? Can anyone shed new light on this for me please :)

mind the gap
29-06-2012, 07:50 AM
I'm not sure what the legal position is over polystyrene tiles but your letting agent's advice is sound. I believe they are a fire accelerant because the millions of little indentations in them mean they have a large surface area which absorbs a large quantity of paint. (Paint is flammable). The smoke from them is especially noxious too.

Walls and ceilings in rented properties should be sound and safe, and plaster of the correct thickness is the most fire resistant material for this.

Apart from anything else, polystyene tiles look desperately outdated and naff - they scream: 'I haven't been touched since the 1970s!' and would seriously put tenants off when viewing.

Get the ceiling skimmed! A couple of hundred quid - money well invested.