Roof Battens: What You Need to Consider

It’s easy to think that any old length of timber could be used in your roof. However, there are strict regulations which govern what timber can and cannot be used to batten a roof. These ensure that the timber is strong enough to do the job, and won’t put you or your home at risk. When you come to buy roofing battens, it’s important to do a few checks to be sure you’re making the right choice.

Things to Consider When Buying Roof Battens

BS:5534 Compliance

Any timber used on your roof must comply with the stringent standards set out in BS 5534:2014. This building standard covers most aspects of roofing practices and materials. By adhering to this, you’re ensuring the safety of yourself, and anyone else who lives in or visits your property. Always be sure to check that any battens you purchase come with clear documentation that confirms they adhere to BS 5534. They should also feature a grading stamp on the wood itself which confirms its quality and suitability for the task.

BS 5534 takes a number of factors into consideration, including the species of tree, along with permissible defects such as knots, splits, stains, and moisture content. This is vital as different species of tree boast different strength levels, which are critical to get right.

The documentation should confirm the following about the timber:

  • Country of origin
  • Tree species
  • Basic size (the dimensions of the timber)
  • Type of preservative (if applicable) – some roofing battens will come pre-treated against rot, moisture damage, pests, and more
  • Moisture content
  • Graded in accordance with BS 5534:2014

Appropriate Size

Using undersized battens in your roof can seriously compromise structural integrity. That’s why it’s important to choose timbers that are the right size for your project, both for the span of your roof and the materials you’ve chosen.

Regardless of application, all roofing battens should be no less than 25mm thick, with a maximum tolerance of +/- 3mm. We’d recommend consulting a professional when choosing battens for your roofing project. They’ll be able to advise on the depth, length, and width you require, as well as confirm whether or not you require graded counter battens and rafters.

Counter battens are installed vertically rather than horizontally, helping to support the weight of heavier roofing materials. They also help rainwater flow down your roof more smoothly. If you’re thinking of consulting a professional, be sure to check out our guide on How to Find a Good Roofer.

Moisture Content

You may be surprised to learn that roofing battens are filled with moisture. This is because it is incredibly difficult to totally eliminate moisture from the wood, and doing so would in fact affect its structural integrity. This is because a lot of moisture is held in the core of each beam.

BS 5534 dictates that roofing battens should contain less than 22% moisture at the time of fixing. If this figure is higher, your roofing materials will degrade more quickly over time. As it is nearly impossible to assess moisture content on-site, the only way to know is by the BS 5534 marking.

Batten Colour

Sometimes, you may come across roofing battens that are different colours, commonly shades of blue. Some people claim that this indicates quality, however timber battens can be coloured for many different reasons. The only way to know you’ve got something genuine and suitable for your roof in your hands is by looking for the BS 5534 stamp and documentation.

Drying Process

It’s important to enquire about the way in which your battens were dried. This is vital for BS 5534 compliance, as well as the strength of the wood. Wood that has been dried improperly is prone to warping, splitting, and other damage. Kiln-dried battens are the best, as this is the most controlled, stable method of drying out roofing battens.

Sustainability

You may also wish to find out how sustainably-sourced the timber in your battens is. Most manufacturers are now taking their effect on the environment more seriously, and you will often see both FSC and PETC certification attached to roofing battens. Ideal for the eco-conscious homeowner.

Buy Timber Battens Today

Take a look at our full range of roof battens. We work closely with top manufacturers to bring you a fantastic selection of high-quality roofing timber. All battens we stock are BS 5534:2014 compliant, and treated with a Vacsol Aqua preservative for greater strength. What’s more, this grading process is audited twice a year, ensuring optimal quality.

Please note: This guide on 'What to Consider When Choosing Roof Battens' has been written for information purposes and we therefore take no responsibility for any purchasing decisions you make or installation processes you follow as a result of reading this article. Whilst we act as a retailer, we are not experts nor qualified in the installation of timber battens or any other roofing material. We therefore recommend that you refer to your manufacturer's guide and, if appropriate, consult a qualified professional.