Battens – Standards Made Easy

Aug 19, 2013 Off Comments in General News by
Battens – Standards Made Easy

At the end of my first article about battens, I said that I would try to “de-mystify” the British Standards that batten producers should comply with, in order to produce high quality material such as SR Gold. In fact, there is really only one main Standard that relates directly to battens – and that is BS5534:2014. But then that Standard itself refers to some other British or European Standards, which will affect certain aspects of overall batten production: so it is worth mentioning those documents in this article too.

The full title of that “main” British Standard is BS5534:2014 +A1: 2010 “Code of Practice for slating and tiling (including shingles)” – which is a bit of a mouthful, to say the least! (Which is why I will refer to it, in the rest of this article, as just BS5534:2014). Hopefully, you will tell by the title of this Standard, that it is concerned with a lot more than just grading tiling battens: in fact, its primary job is as a Code of Practice; which is to help roof designers and builders to put together a “safe” roof covering – and that means battens are only a relatively small part of its overall scope. You may have also noticed that its full numerical reference contains more than just the number of the Standard itself: since it also has that extra bit: “+A1 2010”. This refers to its “first amendment” (the “A1” bit) that was added to the main body of the Standard in 2010. This amendment dealt exclusively with just a few changes to the rules for the grading of tiling battens: so although the information about tiling battens is a fairly small part of the make-up of the whole Standard, battens are nevertheless a very important ingredient in almost every roof.

The most important thing to do to any piece of timber of the right size, in order to then turn it into a “BS Batten” is to grade it, in accordance with the rules given in BS5534:2014. As part of this process, BS5534:2014 makes reference to another Standard, BS 4978: which is the one that tells people how to measure those defects in timber that can affect its strength. (Slope of Grain is particularly important in this regard, since major deviations in the grain direction of any piece of wood can drastically alter its ability to carry a load).

But there are some other Standards which BS5534:2014 also refers to, which are nothing to do with the grading process: and most of these other ones relate to particular things which have to be done to the battens after they have been graded; such as the exact timber species codes which need to be marked onto the battens, or the timber’s correct treatment with a wood preservative.

Not all wood species are the same as each another, so it is important to know that you are getting the correct timber to do the correct job. BS EN 13556 (which is a European Standard – not just a British one) gives us “letter codes” which denote different wood species; and these are required to be stamped onto the battens as part of their overall marking. In the case of SR Gold, we use mainly Spruce, but occasionally Pine, and the codes for these are WPCA (for Spruce) and PNSY (for Pine): so you will see our battens marked as “PNSY/WCA” – which means that they will only be made from one or other of those two timbers.

Tiling battens also need to be treated with a wood preservative, in case they are exposed to moisture at some time in their lives: and two different Standards are important here.  BS EN 335-1 (another European Standard – as you may tell from the letters “EN” in its title) lists the conditions under which any wood-based materials may be used, and the level or “hazard” that they might be exposed to. (I should just say here that BS5534:2014 still refers to “Hazard Classes”: but BS EN 335-1 has been revised, and they are now called “Use Classes” – although they are essentially the same thing).

A lot of the time, tiling battens will be kept dry when they are in a roof; but where there is a risk of occasional wetting – through a leak or some such – then the battens must be treated to Use Class 2: which brings me to the final Standard that I want to mention here: BS 8417.

This British Standard gives the methods of treatment, with approved chemicals, for many different timber components, to be able to withstand the various different Use Classes.  All of which means that even though your SR Gold Battens will only have the Standard number “BS5534:2014” stamped on them, they will have also had to meet the requirements of several other British and European Standards, along the route to becoming good enough to be called “SR Gold.”