As the UK starts the process of negotiating our exit from the EU we consider the immediate impact on the batten market and what lies ahead.
It’s too soon to say exactly how the effects of Brexit will play out as no one really knows what will happen. What we can say at the moment, is that if the exchange rate is poor then imports become more expensive, which has a direct effect on prices. In the case of graded roofing battens the UK imports all of the material – whether it’s the raw materials or the ready produced BS 5534:2014 graded batten itself, it all comes from abroad.
One possible effect could be a compromise on the quality of battens available in the UK, with an influx of lower quality, cheaper battens flooding the market. Of course, there will always be cheaper battens available, however they may well not conform to British Standards. As we all know, graded battens have gone through stringent tests to check; the correct rate of growth, slope of grain, moisture content, decay or insect attack. They also have to conform to specific criteria for thickness/width dimensions, knot sizes and configuration, distortion, wane, fissures and splits, and resin pockets.
Cheaper imports, however, may have undergone fewer or no checks at all, making it extremely difficult, time consuming and even impossible for contractors to grade-check all characteristics. In addition the material may not be sustainably sourced or may be the wrong size – instantly disqualifying it from being a BS 5534:2014 roofing batten and therefore wrong for any type of roofing.
Being swayed by a cheaper batten is one thing, however actually installing battens that don’t conform to British Standards is quite another. At best, contractors will face having to strip and re-roof at their own cost and at worst, the roof may be deemed structurally unsound. The best way to protect yourself and your customer is to make sure you use graded batten on the roof that conforms to British Standards and the best way to do that is to only deal with a reputable supplier.
It’s worth bearing in mind that organisations such as the NHBC will only accept factory graded batten on sites. Basically, there are no short cuts – if you buy cheaper batten at face value, the risks are high. Roofing battens have become a specialist product, so protect yourself and buy from a specialist supplier that offers reliable warranties and sufficient technical support, coupled with industry knowledge. By aligning yourself to a reputable supplier who can demonstrate quality, reliability and expertise, you can rest assured that the batten you have chosen is the real deal.