Several manufacturers have developed new products that follow traditional means for forming roof constructions.
For 2003, Corus Building Systems has introduced a new product called 'Falzinc'.
Developed initially for the mainland European market, where zinc is used widely on all kinds of buildings, Falzinc is a new lightweight material with a zinc top layer over aluminium. The material is formed and installed using the tools and techniques of the traditional soft-metal roofing trade.
Coils come in a standard width of 600mm in 0.7mm and 1.0mm gauge, together with flat sheets up to 6m in length. A brochure and samples are available from Corus Building Systems.
Alfred McAlpine Slate has added the Celtic slate to its range of natural roofing slates. Project architect Nick Wood of Triangle Architects recently specified Celtic slates for the new Qwert Sant Tudno apartment building built by McCarthy and Stone on Llandudno's seafront. This specification met the requirement of Conwy Borough Council for natural Welsh slate to complement the existing roofs on the promenade buildings.
The development of new fire-resistant materials has led to an increase in the number of new homes being built with thatch roofs, with some areas of the country apparently seeing up to 15 per cent of new buildings being thatched.
Architects and specifiers have always been keen to use thatch not just for its aesthetic qualities, but also because it is efficient at keeping heat in and noise out while being an environmentally friendly and renewable material. However, the significant drawback had always been the risks associated with fire. New developments in fire-protection products have reduced the risk to a point where thatch compares favourably with tiled roofs.
Firewall has become the most commonly used fire-protection product in thatched roofs since it was developed and launched by Rentokil Initial in conjunction with the Thatching Advisory Service two years ago. All new thatched roofs are required by law to have a fire barrier that will protect the building underneath for at least 30 minutes. Firewall is a lightweight glasstextile material that is claimed to be easy to work with and provides adequate waterproof protection to allow work to take place on the inside of a building. Apparently it can provide fire protection for over an hour. The introduction of this new material may help to promote the renaissance of the ancient country craft of thatching that was also being actively promoted at the Dach und Wand roofing exhibition in Germany.
In the UK roofing industry there are new products currently being launched of which specifiers should be aware. Some new component systems are being introduced to meet the latest Building Regulations, whereas other new developments are being introduced from Europe and North America to give more robust forms of construction while seeking to minimise health and safety risks.
Keith Roberts is a chartered civil and structural engineer based in Oxfordshire who specialises in roofing and cladding and can be contacted at www. robertsconsulting. co. uk 4 Cladding Services 1400 Alfred McAlpine Slate 1401 Ash & Lacy 1402 Cavity Trays 1403 CGL Cometec 1404 Comar 1405 Corus Building Systems 1406 Filon Products 1407 IKO Group 1408 Keybemo 1409 Paul Bauder 1410 Rentokil Initial 1411 Ruberoid 1412 Sandtoft 1413 Sarnafil 1414 Thatching Advisory Service 1415 READER ENQUIRIES Enquire at www. ajplus. co. uk/ajdirect