Importance of Merchants to check quality of the roof battens they purchase

JB red image Over the last two years, timber shortages have presented many challenges for the industry, with roof battens being particularly difficult to source. As timber availability improved, we’re now seeing an increase of imported material, and in the case of battens, we have seen examples of poor quality and under-sized product enter the market.

Roofing battens are not just small section timbers that are quickly covered over. In fact, they are one of the most important parts of a pitched roof structure, acting as a structural and load bearing element. 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.

There are increasing concerns that due to the high demand for treated battens, contractors could be paying for roofing battens that aren’t compliant or haven’t been through the right preservative treatment process. This means contractors could be inadvertently using inferior roofing battens, thinking they are fully BS 5534 compliant. This poses significant health and safety risks. If a roofer was to step on a batten that didn’t have the required strength, it would only take a single batten failure to have serious consequences.

For merchants, the risks associated with selling non-compliant products can be significant, especially with the Building Safety Act and Code for Construction Product Information (CCPI), which calls for accuracy of and clarity of performance claims made, by all parties selling and marketing construction products.

To ensure compliance with regulations and mitigate any health and safety risks, contractors and merchants should specify factory graded roofing battens that meet BS 5534 and are produced by an established supplier with a recognised third-party certification. Each individual batten will be marked to show it is graded to BS 5534, showing the supplier, origin code and size – all of which are all minimum requirements to meet the British Standard.

In addition, further checks should be put in place to ensure the battens meet the required standards, such as the overall dimension and quality of the product as well as confirming that the battens are sustainably sourced with full chain of custody documentation.

In accordance with BS5534 & BS8417 UC2, roofing battens should also be treated with a high-pressure preservative. For merchants this gives the assurance that the timber has been treated to ensure a 60-year service life recommendation, ensuring the longevity of the roof they are fitted on. Here, merchants should carefully assess if the batten preservative treatment is vacuum impregnated deeply into the timber.

All of the above are steps that can be taken to ensure battens meet the relevant requirements. However, contractors and merchants should also be aware that not all battens sold as BS 5534 compliant battens have the same levels of quality or grading processes so should ensure they are purchasing from a trusted manufacturer to avoid any risks or additional unwanted costs. If a merchant has any doubts about the grade of any roofing battens, then they should check with the supplier and ensure they do their own due diligence, and not accept inferior products that clearly do not meet the required standards.