Professional Builder visits the west country production facility of chemicals specialists Barrettine
It was once a gateway to Britain’s imperial riches and was where, 140 years ago, the Barrettine Group would embark on its long journey. In the heart of Bristol’s docks, 1879 would see the firm begin importing and trading in a variety of raw materials, including whale oil, shellac, tallow and bitumens. Fast forward to the present day and the subsequent years have seen the company build a prodigious and diverse level of expertise in the chemicals business, and it is builders who can benefit from what is now an extensive product range, appealing to a number of the trades.
“Over the years the business would evolve to focus on the home and garden market, but there is still a comforting continuity with our past,” explains MD, Steve Bailey. “Materials like Shellac are used in some of our woodcare products, for instance, but at the same time we’re always looking to enhance and expand what we offer.” It is in the realm of woodcare, in fact that Barrettine has welcomed the latest addition to what is now a family of over 250 products, with the ArmourFlex Wood Lacquer range embracing the latest technology for natural wood flooring protection.
“Our Nourish & Protect woodcare range is a significant part of our business, and is probably what end users know us for primarily,” continues Steve. “It is in that sector that our R&D teams have been very active recently, and we have some very exciting products coming through in 2019 and beyond. That includes a UV Cladding Oil, wood reviver and cladding preservative. Cedar cladding is perennially popular, but it will weather to a silver-grey over time. Whilst some people quite like that, if you do want to maintain the original finish then our new UV Cladding Oil will do just that. There seems to be a trend for different colours in exterior woodcare at the moment with sage green, slate grey and pale blues coming to the fore and we supply a full range, as well as products that offer a more natural finish, or the more conventional dark brown in fencing, for instance.”
ArmourFlex might be the new name in woodcare amongst an already broad stable of brands, but many builders will be familiar with the Barrettine paint stripping solutions, Paint Panther and Peelaway – the latter of which has been with us since the early 1970s. Over the long lifetime of a period property, multiple layers of paint would be applied to the likes of coving and decorative mouldings, often to the detriment of some of the intricate lines and detail of these features.
Peelaway is designed to remove up to 32 individual layers but, if applied correctly, will not damage the valuable substrate. It is a unique and patented process, where the paste is applied, then covered with a specially designed blanket, and left to do its work. Where old lead paint may be present it is the cover that prevents any of the lead-based particles from entering the atmosphere and, compared to manual removal, or the use of heat guns, it represents a far safer option for both building occupants and tradespeople.
Peelaway 1 is suitable for older, traditional paints including lead-based, whilst Peelaway 7 is designed for more modern water- and oil-based paints. It was, however, changes to European regulations on what chemicals could be used that would help both products to tear a strip off the competition. With the demise of the potentially carcinogenic methylene chloride as an ingredient, the entire paint stripping market experienced a seismic shift in 2010, with some brands then forced to radically alter their formulations. In some cases, performance suffered, and that would open a space for the reformulated Peelaway and its sister product, Paint Panther.
Launched by Barrettine in that very year, Paint Panther is the more aggressive, and highly effective, solvent-based solution that will quickly remove almost any of the typical paints builders will encounter. Barrettine’s Phil Gibbins tells us more: “To a professional, time is always money and its speed is certainly one of its best attributes. We actually do a very popular demonstration at trade shows where we’ll remove six layers from a substrate in just five minutes.”
All chemicals come under the REACH registration process and biocides/preservers come under a similar approval process known as the Biocidal Product Review (BPR). Barrettine’s wood preserver range continues to navigate through this ongoing, difficult regulatory process.
The manufacturer’s traditional wood preservatives contain biocides, such as insecticides and fungicides, all of which are strictly monitored for safety, and are only used in products where they would be deemed necessary. The solutions in the protective category contain a high level of resins, oils and binders, which enrich the wood, and prevent water ingress, but Barrettine also produces a high quality Wood Preserver that fulfils both those functions. It will ward off wood destroying fungi (wet rot), wood discolouring fungi and wood boring insects, but also provides a semi-transparent matt/satin finish that enhances the natural wood texture.
It’s not just about woodcare and paint strippers, of course, because professionals can trust in a portfolio of products that also includes solvents, thinners and cleaners, decorating sundries, tile and stone care and much more besides. Not only that but there’s also a separate pest control and pesticides division. With a heritage of nearly a century and a half, and a tradition of innovation along all of those long years, this is one chemical company that builders will continue to have a positive reaction.