Breathable membranes are semi-porous films or sheets, which allow the exchange of water vapor while preventing liquid water from permeating through. These membranes prevent water from seeping into the roof structure, while providing cold and warm ventilation. Breathable membranes are primarily used in the building & construction industry; they are used as underlay for various types of roofs such as slated pitched roofs and tiled roofs. Large amount of water vapor can be produced in a building. This moisture ultimately reaches the roof and can cause condensation, thereby damaging the roof structure. This damage can be prevented by ventilating the roof structure by using breathable membranes. High dampness inside a building can cause severe problems such as mold formation, damp patches, corrosion (for metals), decay (for wood components), and weak insulation. Breathable membranes are made up of several materials, ranging from polytetrafluoroethylene (commonly known as Teflon) to polyurethane and microporous polypropylene.
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Strong growth in the building & construction industry is the primary factor driving the demand for breathable membranes. These membranes are not only used as roof underlays but also for wall coverings and house wraps. These films are highly useful in areas with heavy rainfall, high snowfall, and high atmospheric moisture content. Demand for breathable membranes is high in snow-clad regions such as Northern Europe, Canada, and Russia. Furthermore, tropical countries such as Brazil, India, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia are significant markets for breathable membranes. Breathable membranes also help increase the thermal efficiency and lower power consumption in a building. Roof membranes have regulated and high installation specifications, as improper placement of these membrane can dislodge the roof tiles, thereby causing severe damage to the roof. The extra care, cost, and efforts required to ensure proper sealing and laying of these membrane are some of the drawbacks of breathable membranes.
The breathable membrane market can be segmented based on material into polytetrafluoroethylene (Teflon), polyurethane, polypropylene, and other materials (such as nylon and polyester). Teflon membranes are widely used across the globe due to their high reliability. These films are usually hydrophobic and microporous; however, expanded hydrophilic monolithic membranes are also used for roof underlayment applications. Based on the resistance to water vapor permeability, the breathable membrane market can be bifurcated into high water vapor resistance membranes (also known as type HR) and low water vapor resistance membranes (also known as type LR). The former offers resistance of 0.25 MN.s/g (Mega Newton second per gram) and above; however, the latter provides vapor resistance less than 0.25 MN.s/g. Based on application, the breathable membrane market can be classified into roof underlay, house wrap, wall coverings, and others. The roof underlay application segment accounts for significant share of the breathable membrane market due to its high reliability to curb moisture and dampness over other ventilation systems.
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In terms of geography, the breathable membrane market can be divided into Asia Pacific, Europe, North America, Latin America, and Middle East & Africa. Europe and North America are the key regions of the for breathable membrane market, due to the rising demand for residential buildings along with the prevalence of snowy and rainy climatic conditions in these regions. Furthermore, the increase in population and growth in residential construction in countries such as Germany, France, and Italy are fuelling the demand for breathable membranes in Europe and North America. The breathable membrane market in Asia Pacific and Latin America is developing; it is anticipated to expand significantly during the forecast period due to rising demand from building and construction industry in the region.
Key players operating in the global breathable membrane market are Saint Gobain SA, DuPont, GAF Material Corporation, and Porelle Membranes.