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No‐fines concrete in the UK social housing stock: 50 years on

James Sommerville (Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK)
Nigel Craig (Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK)
Antoinette Charles (Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK)

Structural Survey

ISSN: 0263-080X

Article publication date: 30 August 2011




No‐fines concrete (NFC) is an open textured cellular concrete obtained by eliminating either fines or sand from the normal concrete mix. Research in the 1950s showed this material to be capable of energy and cement savings and worthy of being seen as a material that would revolutionise the way affordable homes could be built. In today's context, it may be argued that homes built using this material suffer from fuel poverty as a result of their thermal performance characteristics. This paper seeks to discuss the performance characteristics of NFC in social housing by identifying the nature of the material and the influence of pore structure on heat loss through the fabric of the building.


Exploratory work was carried out to determine the build and performance characteristics of NFC as used in a range of social housing units. The work includes both laboratory tests and site investigations to identify the physical, thermal, visual and quality characteristics of NFC in cores taken from existing housing units in Irvine, Scotland and units cast in the lab.


The findings from the tests are used to discuss the actual characteristics of NFC and highlight the nature of pores in NFC and, their influence on heat loss through the external fabric.

Practical implications

Identifying the nature of pores in NFC helps provide approaches towards optimising solutions aimed at improving the thermal performance of the building.


This paper is the first to discuss the on‐site build and performance characteristics of NFC and the nature and influence of pores on the thermal performance of NFC.



Sommerville, J., Craig, N. and Charles, A. (2011), "No‐fines concrete in the UK social housing stock: 50 years on", Structural Survey, Vol. 29 No. 4, pp. 294-302.



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Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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