Flex-R urges contractors not to ‘mix-and-match’

Roofing contractors are being urged not to ‘mix and match’ EPDM membranes, adhesives, primers and tapes from different suppliers, not just because it invalidates product warranties, but also because it compromises vital fire safety standards.

The warning comes from Duncan Winter, trading director of Flex-R, who is concerned that roofing contractors are leaving themselves wide open as the landscape for the whole construction industry changes following the Grenfell Tower fire.

Duncan said that it’s time to draw a line under the practice of mixing and matching.

“Grenfell is a real game-changer for the construction industry and its supply chain, which cascades down to include specialist contractors and suppliers of materials such as roofing supplies,” he said.

“We know that the roofing sector is extremely competitive and cost sensitive, which is why roofers can sometimes try to save a few quid here by, for example, buying their ClassicBond EPDM membranes from one supplier and their adhesives, primers and tapes from others.

“On one level, it poses the problem of invalidating warranties on products, which in itself could be hugely inconvenient and costly if contractors have to revisit installations to rectify or replace roofing.

“But the other bigger-picture concern is the non-compliance with ratings and standards such as Broof(t4) in respect of external fire exposure. Since Grenfell, everything’s changed; fire safety is firmly in the spotlight, and no contractor can afford to put a foot wrong.”

Broof(t4) is the highest standard for roof coverings exposed to external fire, as set out in the classification methodology of BS EN 13501-5: 2005, where it is subject to a two-stage test method incorporating burning brands, wind and supplementary radiant heat.

It covers three key areas: no penetration of roof system within 60 minutes, specimens burn for less than five minutes (in preliminary test, after withdrawal of the test flame) and flame spread less than 0.38m across the region of burning (in a preliminary test).

Duncan added that companies like Flex-R have led the way in developing, testing and refining complete systems for products such as ClassicBond EPDM membranes to ensure their performance and a service life in excess of 35 years.

“We’ve done the right thing by the industry in developing all the component parts for a sustainable, long-lasting rooftop that meets all the various requirements of technical and safety standards to give roofers complete peace of mind that they’ll get the job done right first time. Mixing and matching simply isn’t worth it anymore.”