November 2019

With ongoing debate about the differences between roofing battens, Stuart Nicholson, director for roof systems at Marley, says its latest BBA certification provides further assurance that customers can rely on JB-Red for quality and consistency.

Since BS 5534: 2014 was introduced, it has made the process of choosing and grading timber roofing battens much simpler and safer, improving quality and effectively getting rid of the risky practice of grading by eye on site. Now only battens that have been pre or factory graded to BS 5534 are actually allowed to be called roofing battens.

However, more recently, there has been growing debate in the building and roofing trade media about the fact there are still quality differences between battens. Indeed, just because all battens have to comply with BS 5534 requirements, it doesn’t mean that they are all exactly the same. In fact, it is surprising how many differences there can be between similar looking roofing battens - from the way they are graded, through to the type of timber they are made from, the preservative they are treated with and the length of the guarantee.

This means that, as well as BS 5534 compliance, it is increasingly important to be able to provide third party assurance of batten quality to customers in the roofing and building trades, for example BBA certification.

At the end of last year, the BBA carried out another successful six-month audit at our JB Red manufacturing facility in Gainsborough, where inspectors assessed all aspects of the quality control and manufacturing processes involved with producing the battens. Our latest BBA Agrément certificate gives independent endorsement that JB Red roofing battens meet its strict quality criteria and that they comply with all the requirements of BS 5534.

It is important for all of our customers to know that BBA isn’t just a one-off certification. They continually audit the manufacturing process to make sure it stays consistent and meets the high quality standards that have been set. As part of the audit, the BBA checks our manufacturing line from beginning to end – from the raw material coming in, to its treatment and grading, through to the finished product ready to deliver. This includes looking at our testing procedures, quality checks, equipment calibration and materials traceability.

The BBA accreditation is stamped on every batten, reassuring specifiers, architects, contractors and merchants that they can rely on red to not only be BS 5534 compliant, but also provide them with extremely high manufacturing standards.

Batten quality checklist

Aside from independent endorsement, the quality differences between roofing battens are not all immediately obvious, so it is useful to understand the variances between the vast range of roofing battens on the market.

Here we’ve put together a handy checklist of things to look out for:

1 – Grading stamp - only battens that have been pre or factory graded to BS 5534 are actually allowed to be called roofing battens. Make sure there is an indelible stamp on the batten saying BS 5534 and never risk selling one if it hasn’t. If you have any doubts at all, check with the manufacturer. Another additional quality assurance is third party certification. JB Red is third party certified by the British Board of Agrément and this is also included on the stamp.

2 – Batten colour – The issue of batten colour has caused some confusion. Whilst the distinctive red colour of our JB Red battens does give your customers peace of mind that they are using a BS 5534 compliant batten, this is not necessarily the case for all battens. Don’t assume that just because it is coloured, that a batten meets the required British Standard. It must also have the correct stamps and supporting documentation.

3 – Timber – The type of timber used for a roofing batten is quite significant. 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. Redwood is stamped on the battens as PNSY (Pinus Sylvestris) and whitewood is stamped as WPCA (Picea Abies). All of our battens are cut from kiln dried sideboards as they are less likely to distort.

4 – Drying process – Timber that is too wet is prone to mould growth and potentially rotting. However, it must be dried in a controlled way to prevent defects such as warping and splitting. Our JB Red battens are kiln dried which not only helps to stabilise the timber, but also means they are lighter, making them easier to handle and load on the roof.

5 – Grading process – Roofing battens must be pre-graded before they get to site, this can be done visually or by a machine. We believe that only mechanical grading, using camera and laser scanning technology, is able to produce the most accurate and consistently graded roofing battens. Our JB Red roofing battens are put through a state-of-the-art laser grading machine called Goldeneye, which scans the battens in intricate detail, by the millimetre, to deliver a high level of accuracy, consistency and ultimately, quality assurance.

6 – Quality checks – Compare what quality checks the battens go through as they won’t all be the same. Our timber is quality checked at every stage of the process, combining our Goldeneye technology with our visual grading expertise. People like Howard, one of our visual grading experts at our Gainsborough sites, will assess goods inward, checking the raw material for conformity to our buying specification. The material is checked again before it goes through the Goldeneye scanner to ensure no deterioration has taken place, an operator is present on the scanner to check for compliance and the battens are checked again at the end of the process. A number of pieces are also taken out every hour and undergo a full quality check for compliance with BS 5534.

7 – Treatment / Guarantees – Roofing battens should be preservative treated to Use Class 2 in accordance with BS 8417. Different manufacturers use their own types of preservative treatment and may offer different guarantees as a result. JB Red battens use a patented next generation technology preservative called MicroPro, which has a unique red pigment and carries a 60-year lifetime guarantee against insect attack and wood rotting fungi (when installed correctly in accordance with the requirements of Usage Class 2).