Making the right liquid choice
Read what LRWA CEO Sarah Spink has to say
What should you be looking for?
Making the right liquid choice…
As the Liquid Roofing and Waterproofing Association (LRWA) reveals its latest market size figures, CEO of the association, Sarah Spink, discusses product choice and application best practice
Liquid roofing and waterproofing has gone from strength to strength in 2017, something which is expected to continue in 2018. Recent figures from research undertaken by the LRWA recorded a 35% growth in its members’ turnover – measured in m2 – for liquid applied waterproofing since 2013. During the last four years, a rise in LRWA membership also reflects sector growth, with an increase from 16 manufacturer members in 2013, to 25 in 2016 – which has seen the association’s collective turnover grow by 98% – meaning liquids is now the fastest growing sector of the flat roofing market.
“In the flat roofing sector where poor product performance could lead to water ingress, the contractor needs to be able to pass peace of mind upstream through the delivery partners”
Sarah Spink, LRWA CEO
New liquid systems
As with any market sector, the successes of rapid growth does present its own issues, and because of the increased demand for liquid waterproofing, there has been an influx of new manufacturers emerging into the market, as well as an increase of imported products from overseas. Whilst manufacturers and contractors must relish the new business opportunity, it’s important to ensure high standards are still being met.
Some of the new liquid waterproofing systems emerging onto the market – often sold through distribution networks – are substandard and have been developed without any testing or certification, so there is a risk that some of these products are simply not fit for purpose. This is an issue within the industry which the LRWA continues to try and combat, and will do so throughout 2018.
There are some good product systems sold through distribution networks, but in some circumstances, operatives aren’t being trained properly or don’t have the field service personnel to ensure a quality of application.
Liquid products vary considerably depending on different chemistry types, so it is important that operatives are fully knowledgeable with regard to the performance and behaviour of the different systems, as well as being fully trained in the application.
In the flat roofing sector where poor product performance could lead to water ingress, the contractor needs to be able to pass peace of mind upstream through the delivery partners, all the way to the principle designer, the client and the end user.
It’s therefore important for the contractor to seek advice from a trusted trade association such as the LRWA – which is the only recognised body in liquid applied membranes to produce compliant technical guidance notes and Codes of Practice – before choosing a product.
For a contractor to know a product is fit for purpose, they should look for the following. Liquid manufacturers should have a third party accredited quality management system such as ISO 9001, which ensures the product is manufactured to a consistent specification.
Manufacturers should also have a UK registered office, which dispels any concerns of not having any support on the ground if a productis imported from overseas. A technical team based in the UK is vital to ensure product and application advice can be given if required. Manufacturers should provide evidence of a system’s life expectancy of ten years as a minimum, backed-up by third party accreditation.
Application guidelines must also be readily available with access routes to system training for the contractor. Manufacturers should offer guidance and support to merchants and contractors as to the training options available – such as the accredited courses offered by the LRWA, led by a specialist team.
A liquid manufacturer should also have a complaints procedure in place, providing peace of mind for the contractor and a point of contact if anything should go wrong on a project. A company’s financial status and trading entity details should also be accessible.
It is worthwhile for any contractor to consider what service a manufacturer offers, aside from the product benefits, before specifying any liquid waterproofing system.
Time for training
To ensure quality standards remain in a fast-growing industry, system training is vital. The difficulty is, there is no set regulation on training in roofing, so it’s notoriously difficult to ensure all operatives work at the same level on the application of the different liquid systems available. We all know the skills shortage is prominent in our industry, and lack of training can also have a knock-on effect when trying to recruit a skilled workforce. But by achieving NVQ Level 2 Diploma in Liquid Waterproofing promotes quality standards to both clients and end users.
Some may argue the investment of time for an operative to be offsite training can be difficult to manage, however, the long-term benefits of quality training must be considered as a major benefit to all involved, and it ensures contractors have the appropriate health and safety knowledge to competently perform duties on site. In addition, once the NVQ2 has been obtained, operatives can apply for the blue Construction Skills Certification Scheme (CSCS) skilled worker card – which
demonstrates contractors meet the legal requirements necessary to practise the trade.
There are many organisations that offer courses in all varieties of systems from single ply to hot melts and liquids – however contractors must be extremely vigilant when choosing a training provider as the standards of quality can vary considerably. It’s always advisable to seek a recognised industry body, like the LRWA, to deliver specialist training led by an experienced team.
An informed choice
With more liquid products emerging onto the market, it’s important for contractors to make the right choices from product to application, to ensure quality standards continue to be met. It’s important to remember there is plenty of advice and guidance available from trade associations like the LRWA to help protect them from potentially choosing and installing a substandard product.