Roger Bisby Goes Back to School

Roger Bisby Goes Back to School

Roger Bisby returns to the Saint-Gobain Technical Academy to expand his skills and his mind.

It seems I can’t keep away from the Saint-Gobain Technical Academy. On my third visit I completed the one-day screeding course. On any training course it is always better to see a good turnout and this course was full up.

As much as I know, builders who run their own businesses, and deal with a huge range of technologies and challenges, are intelligent people, and not the oiks they are so often portrayed to be.

It still takes me slightly by surprise to see just how switched on and interactive they can be, even in a classroom which, let’s face it, is not their natural environment.

Fortunately, our host and teacher for the day Rob Speke was happy to use the experience of the group as a teaching resource rather than just hand down information from on high. The other thing that really pleased me is that we didn’t do a full morning in the classroom before we did a bit of hands on.

After morning coffee break we were out there mixing up product and pouring it.

The focus of the day was mainly on the bagged flow screeds, which can be used on top of insulation, and with underfloor heating, to provide a very strong fibre reinforced screed. Of course, you don’t have to use it on underfloor heating, and in any situation it will replace traditional trowelled down sand and cement, or gypsum-based pumped screeds.

The advantage it has over those gypsum-based anhydrite screeds is that you don’t have to sand off the laitance – you can lay floor coverings the next day – and its performance remains unaffected in situations of flood water.

Those three things alone were enough to persuade the guys on the course that these Weber products are winners, but when we went out to use the pump in the afternoon they quickly became excited by the potential.

One reason for the excitement was the low build up. Even with underfloor heating you are looking at 35mm, as opposed to the 65mm that many competitor manufacturers recommend when installing over underfloor heating. All those extension jobs where you are struggling to get the insulation in, and the screed to stay level with existing floors, are suddenly made a whole lot easier with these bagged products.

If you are doing a small kitchen extension it is perfectly possible to mix the product with a double paddle whisk in Gorilla tubs and, with three of you on it, you can achieve a continuous pour.

There are tricks and techniques that will help you in this, and if you are thinking of hiring a screed pump to do a larger course there is a lot you can gain from the hands on experience at the Academy.

The other benefit of these training courses – which is perhaps less obvious – is that you meet like-minded fellow builders, and the exchange of information over lunch is worth a lot. I don’t think there was one person there who didn’t give something and take something away from the other people on the course.

For further information on Weber click here.

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