When it comes to battens, make sure you get what you pay for, urges Stuart Nicholson, roof systems director for Marley.
The lockdown in the UK has led to a huge subsequent increase in demand for treated timber for garden projects, domestic refurbishment and new build housing. This has led to concerns about the quality of some timber products coming into the market, particularly roofing battens.
Whereas, in the past, a substantially cheaper price for roofing battens should have sounded alarm bells about the quality, now pricing of these inferior products has gone up, and it’s much harder to distinguish a quality batten by price alone.
There have also been concerns in the industry that some battens on the market have been dipped in preservative rather than pressure treated, which is hard to detect from sight alone and can give inadequate protection against rot and insect attack.
This means contractors could unintentionally be using inferior quality battens, which has serious implications for their safety and reputation.
As well as supporting the dead weight of tiles and the imposed wind loads, BS 5534 graded roofing battens can also be used as a secure foothold during installation. Building control inspections are also becoming increasingly stringent when it comes to checking the right battens have been used. Non-compliant batten use could lead to contractors bearing the cost of stripping and redoing the whole roof and could also invalidate any warranties, such as NHBC.
The good news is that there are some quick and simple steps roofers and builders can take to make sure they are getting the roofing battens they have paid for:
- When you buy the battens, specifically ask the merchants for BS 5534 compliant roofing battens.
- Buy from a trusted brand or manufacturer, such as JB Red, as this will give you peace of mind that battens have consistent quality standards and guaranteed compliance with BS 5534. Our roofing experts are also easily contactable should you ever have any queries.
- Order your roofing battens early, to ensure stock is available when you need it.
- When the battens are delivered to site, open the packaging and give the battens a visual check yourself before use – see advice below.
Visual batten checks
Grading stamp – Only battens that have been pre or factory graded to BS 5534 can be called roofing battens. Make sure there is an indelible stamp on the batten saying BS 5534.
Third party accreditation – Look for an independent quality mark, our JB Red battens have a BBA stamp to demonstrate this.
Check for defects – If you pick it up from one end, the batten should not snap, and it should also be straight (within the agreed BS 5534 limit of 5mm distortion).
Timber – The species of tree, from which the timber has come from, should be stamped on the batten. We only use slow grown imported redwood or whitewood for our JB Red battens. Also look out for an FSC or PEFC stamp to ensure sustainable sourcing.
- Colour is not a guarantee of quality preservative treatment. If you aren’t sure about the battens you are using, ask the manufacturer to see the treatment certificates.
JB Red battens are pressure treated using a patented next generation technology preservative called MicroPro, which has a unique red pigment and carries a 60-year lifetime expectancy against insect attack and wood rotting fungi (when installed correctly in accordance with the requirements of Usage Class 2).
- If you have any doubts at all about defects, strength or quality, don’t risk using the batten. Instead, contact the manufacturer or supplier for advice.
For information on Marley visit www.marley.co.uk/