Over 75% of PVC applications have a long life-span (10 to 20 years and beyond), highlighting the durability of PVC as a polymer. PVC is therefore the most widely used polymer in building and construction applications. Over 60% of Europe’s annual production is used in this sector, which includes a considerable amount of flexible PVC that is plasticised with high phthalates.
PVC cladding (facing for buildings) is designed as a long life application requiring little maintenance. Its durability, high thermal insulation and excellent weathering performance with good resistance to ultraviolet (UV) light and ozone, make this type of cladding capable of remaining in place for many years.
Examples of such use include Le Stade de France in Paris, which hosts some of the country’s major sporting and musical events every year. This 80,000 capacity stadium is completely covered by a flexible PVC roof (56000m2 of flexible PVC foil) which can be moved to transform it from a football/rugby setting to an athletics format or a concert arena through a system of receding tiers. The PVC roof overhangs the outer walls giving shelter to spectators waiting outside.
Another example is one of the world's biggest free-standing halls located in Brand in Germany, which was built to house a new commercial airship and has later been transformed into a leisure centre. The 107 metres high and 360 metres long structure, large enough to house the Eiffel Tower on its side, has a roof made from curved steel girders covered with a soft PVC membrane.
Most electrical sheathing is made using flexible PVC, protecting consumers from electrical chocks in numerous everyday machines and appliances. It is also the preferred sheathing material for many of the cables used in building and construction projects, from homes to offices and factories. The wire and cable and electrical appliances or equipment industries use about 25% of all plasticised PVC in Europe.
Due to its long-life and unbeatable cost-effectiveness, soft vinyl is used in comfortable, safe and stylish wall coverings and floorings used in thousands of buildings all over the world. The success of these applications depends on the use of high phthalate plasticisers, which not only make the polymer soft and flexible but also facilitate key aesthetic, design and hygiene related qualities. Flexible PVC floors are easy to fit and install and are slip-resistant and waterproof from above and below.
Some images reproduced with the kind permission of European Council of Vinyl Manufacturers