Do Roof Battens Need to Be Treated? (Why and How It’s Done Right!)

It’s a question that comes up again and again: Do roof battens need to be treated? If so, how should they be treated? It can be hard to know where you stand on this issue. But we’re here to help. In this article, we’ll talk about the different ways you can treat your roof battens.

Do roof battens need to be treated?

Roof battens typically need to be treated to enhance their durability and resistance to environmental factors. Treated battens are protected against rot, decay, and insect infestations, which can significantly extend their lifespan. This is particularly important in regions with high humidity, frequent rainfall, or where the battens might be exposed to moisture. Treated battens are usually impregnated with preservatives that help maintain their structural integrity and performance over time, ensuring the roof remains secure and intact.

In some instances, untreated battens may be used, particularly in dry climates or where there is minimal risk of moisture exposure. However, using untreated battens can increase the risk of premature failure, rot, or bugs, necessitating more frequent repairs or replacements. Building codes and regulations in many areas often require the use of treated battens for roofing projects to ensure safety and compliance. Therefore, while not always mandatory, treating roof battens is generally recommended for most roofing applications to guarantee long-term durability and reliability.

Just treat the battens with a wood preservative or another suitable protective coating to make sure they last and work well.

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The most common types of treatment for wooden battens

The most common types of preservatives used in residential building lumber are:

  • Chromated copper arsenate (CCA)
  • Alkaline copper quaternary (ACQ)
  • Copper azole (CA)

CCA (Chromated Copper Arsenate), ACQ (Alkaline Copper Quaternary), and CA (Copper Azole) are three of the most common types of wood preservatives used for treating roof battens and other types of wood used in construction.

CCA is one of the older and more widely used preservatives, but its use of arsenic has raised concerns about its safety, leading to limited use today.

ACQ and CA are newer alternatives to CCA that do not contain arsenic and are considered safer. They are highly effective in protecting wood from decay, rot, and pests and are widely used in residential and commercial building construction. Both ACQ and CA are known for their long-term effectiveness and good environmental profile.

How do you treat roof battens?

To treat roof battens, you will need to follow these steps:

Step 1: Clean the battens

Begin by using a scraper or putty knife to remove any dirt, debris, or loose paint from the surface of the battens. Then, use a stiff-bristled brush to scrub away any remaining dirt or grime.

Step 2: Sand the battens

Use medium-grit sandpaper to smooth out any rough or uneven areas on the battens. This will help to create a more even surface for the treatment to adhere to.

Step 3: Remove any excess dust

Use a dry cloth to wipe away any dust or debris that has accumulated on the battens as a result of sanding.

Step 4: Apply the treatment

Follow the instructions on the product packaging to apply the wood preservative or another protective coating to the battens. Be sure to apply a thin, even layer and pay special attention to the ends and edges of the battens, which are more prone to moisture damage.

Step 5: Allow the treatment to dry

Allow the treatment to dry completely according to the manufacturer’s instructions. This will typically take several hours or more, depending on the product and the ambient temperature.

Step 6: Apply a second coat (optional)

Some products may recommend applying a second coat of treatment for added protection. If this is the case, allow the first coat to dry completely before applying the second coat according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

By doing these things, you can effectively treat your roof battens to protect them from water and rot. This will help your roofing system last longer and work better.

Why should roof battens be treated?

Treating roof battens can have several benefits, including:

Increasing lifespan

By protecting the battens from moisture and rot, treatment will extend their lifespan. This is especially important in places with high humidity or a lot of rain because untreated battens can get weak and start to rot if they aren’t taken care of.

Cost savings

By making the battens last longer and protecting them from damage, treatment can reduce the need for repairs or replacements that cost a lot of money.

Increased durability

Treated battens are typically more durable and resistant to damage than untreated ones. It keeps problems like warping or cracking from happening, which can hurt the roof’s stability.

Improved resistance to decay and rot

Wood preservatives and other protective coatings help stop decay and rot by creating a barrier between the wood and the elements. This will keep the battens from losing their strength over time and from falling apart.

Improved waterproofing

Some treatments, such as sealants, can help to make the battens more waterproof by providing a barrier against moisture. You want to prevent water from penetrating the wood and causing damage.

Improved appearance and aesthetics

By protecting the battens from fading and other signs of wear and tear, you can make them look better and make them last longer. Doing so will enhance the overall aesthetic appeal of the roofing system.

Makes it insect resistant

Some treatments, like those with insecticides, will keep pests like termites from getting into the battens.

Increases the density

Some treatments, like those with oils or resins, make the wood denser, which makes it less likely to get damaged. When you introduce air into the wood, it becomes less dense. Treating it will slow down air penetration. This will help extend the lifespan of the battens.

Improved fire resistance

Some treatments, like those with fire retardants, can help make the battens less likely to catch fire. This can be especially important in areas with a high risk of wildfire or other types of fire.

Enhanced safety

Battens that are in good condition are less likely to fail or become weakened, which can improve the overall safety of the roofing system. For instance, if a batten breaks, it could cause the roofing material to move or come loose, which could be dangerous.

How much longer will treated roof battens last compared to untreated battens?

It is difficult to quantify exactly how much longer treated roof battens will last compared to untreated ones, as many factors can affect the lifespan of a roofing system, including the quality of the treatment, the climate and weather conditions, and the overall maintenance of the roof.

However, in general, treated battens should last longer than untreated ones due to the added protection against moisture and rot.

It’s been estimated that treated roof battens can last up to 100 years. Untreated roof batten will likely last for many years.

To maximize the lifespan of treated battens, it is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and maintenance, as well as to perform regular inspections and maintenance on the roofing system.

By taking good care of the battens, you try to make sure they keep giving the roof the support and protection it needs.

What chemicals can you use to treat roof battens?

Several products can be used to treat roof battens, including:

Chromated copper arsenate

CCA is one of the older and more widely used preservatives that contain chromium, copper, and arsenic. It is highly effective in protecting wood from decay and pests, but the use of arsenic has raised concerns about its safety, which has led to its limited use today.

Alkaline copper quarternary

ACQ is a wood preservative that contains copper and a quaternary ammonium compound. It is highly effective in protecting wood from decay, rot, and pests and is a safer alternative to CCA because it does not contain arsenic. ACQ is widely used in residential and commercial building construction and is known for its long-term effectiveness.

Copper azole

CA is another wood preservative that contains copper and azole compounds. It is highly effective in protecting wood from decay and pests and is a safer alternative to CCA due to its lack of arsenic. CA is also widely used in residential and commercial building construction and is known for its long-term effectiveness and good environmental profile.

Wood preservatives

Wood preservatives are designed to protect the wood from decay, rot, and pests. They work by penetrating the wood and creating a barrier between the wood and the elements. Wood preservatives are typically applied in liquid form and can be brushed or sprayed onto the wood.

Sealants

Sealants are designed to protect the wood by creating a waterproof barrier on the surface. They are typically applied in liquid form and can be brushed or sprayed onto the wood. Some sealants also contain UV inhibitors to help protect the wood from fading or discoloration due to exposure to sunlight.

Oils and stains

Oils and stains can be applied to the wood to help protect it from moisture and improve its appearance. Oils penetrate the wood and help to seal and preserve it, while stains add color and enhance the wood’s natural grain pattern.

Polyurethane

Polyurethane is a synthetic polymer that is often used as a wood finish. It is known for its durability and resistance to moisture, making it a good option for protecting wood from decay and rot. Polyurethane can be applied as a clear finish or with added pigments to provide color.

Epoxy

Epoxy is a type of adhesive that is known for its strong bonding properties and moisture resistance. It can be used to seal and protect the wood and is often used as a finish for flooring or other surfaces that are prone to wear and tear.

Lacquer

Lacquer is a type of wood finish that is known for its quick-drying properties and resistance to moisture. It can be applied in thin layers and is typically used to provide a glossy finish to wood surfaces.

Varnish

Varnish is a type of wood finish that is made from a combination of resin, oil, and solvent. It is known for its durability and resistance to moisture and is often used to protect the wood from decay and rot.

What are natural methods of treating roof battens?

Several natural methods can be used to treat roof battens, including:

Tung oil

Tung oil is a natural oil that is extracted from the seeds of the tung tree. It is known for its ability to penetrate the wood and provide a protective barrier against moisture. Tung oil is often used to give wood a natural, satin finish.

Linseed oil

Linseed oil is a natural oil that is extracted from flax seeds. It can also penetrate the wood and provide a protective barrier against moisture. Linseed oil is typically applied in thin layers and is often used to give wood a natural, matte finish.

Refined hemp oil

Refined hemp oil is a natural oil that is extracted from hemp seeds. Like the other two, refined hemp oil can get into the wood and act as a barrier against moisture, just like the other two. Hemp oil can give wood a natural, matte finish.

Walnut oil

Walnut oil is a natural oil that is extracted from walnuts. It can provide a protective barrier against moisture. Walnut oil is also applied in thin layers and is often used to give wood a natural, satin finish.

Pine tar

Pine tar is a natural resin that is extracted from pine trees. It can also provide a protective barrier against moisture. You can apply it in thin layers and is often used to give wood a dark, satin finish.

Treatment products for wooden battens: Table

ProductProsConsCost EfficiencyLongevity
Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA)Highly effective in protecting wood from decay and pestsContains arsenic, which is toxicModerate10-20 years
Alkaline Copper Quaternary (ACQ)Highly effective in protecting wood from decay, rot, and pestsCan form ammonia in productionModerate10-20 years
Copper Azole (CA)Highly effective in protecting wood from decay and pestsAlso used as a powerful fungicide and sometimes contains boric acidModerate10-20 years
Wood preservativesProtects wood from decay, rot, and pestsMay require multiple coats for full protectionModerate1-5 years
SealantsCreates a waterproof barrierMay crack or peel over timeModerate2-5 years
Oils and stainsEnhances appearance and protects from moistureMay require frequent reapplicationLow to moderate1-3 years
PolyurethaneDurable and resistant to moistureMay yellow or crack over timeHigh3-6 years
EpoxyStrong bonding properties and moisture resistantDifficult to remove if applied improperlyHigh10-20+ years
LacquerQuick-drying and resistant to moistureMay be flammable and release harmful fumesHigh10-20+ years
VarnishDurable and resistant to moistureMay yellow or crack over timeHigh5-10 years
Tung oilNatural, satin finish and protects from moistureMay require frequent reapplicationLow1-2 years
Linseed oilNatural, matte finish and protects from moistureMay take longer to dry than other oilsLow1-2 years
Refined hemp oilNatural, matte finish and protects from moistureMay have a strong odor during applicationLow1-2 years
Walnut oilNatural, satin finish and protects from moistureMay be more expensive than other oilsLow to moderate1-2 years
Pine tarNatural, dark satin finish and protects from moistureMay have a strong odor during applicationLow2-5 years
This table lists all the kinds of treatments available for home-building wood. It also includes the pros, cons, cost efficiency, and longevity of that particular product.

Do treat roof battens need to be sealed?

It is generally recommended to seal roof battens to protect them from moisture and extend their lifespan. Sealing the battens can help to create a barrier between the wood and the elements, preventing moisture from penetrating the wood and causing damage.

Sealing the battens will also stop decay and rot from happening on top of the treatment, which can weaken the battens and put the roof system at risk.

Several products can be used to seal roof battens, including sealants, oils, and stains.

It is important to choose a product that is suitable for the specific needs of your roofing system and to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and maintenance.

Regularly inspecting and maintaining the roofing system, including the battens, can also help to ensure that the battens remain in good condition and provide the necessary support for the roof.

What materials are roof battens made of?

Roof battens are typically made of wood, although they can also be made of other materials such as metal or plastic.

Wooden roof battens are typically made of softwood or hardwood. Softwood battens are less expensive than hardwood battens and are more commonly used in residential construction. However, hardwood battens are more durable and resistant to rot, making them a better choice for areas with high humidity or frequent exposure to rain.

Metal roof battens are typically made of aluminum or steel and are used in commercial or industrial construction. They are more expensive than wooden battens but are more durable and resistant to rot, making them a good choice for areas with extreme weather conditions.

Plastic roof battens are made of synthetic materials such as PVC or fiberglass and are typically used in residential construction. They are lightweight and easy to install but are not as strong or durable as wood or metal battens.

Metal and plastic roof battens typically do not need to be treated in the same way that wooden battens do, as they are more resistant to decay and rot. However, they can still be subject to other types of damage, such as corrosion or UV degradation, and may benefit from some form of protection.

Most of the time, a paint or coating that stops rust should be used to protect metal roof battens from corrosion.

A UV-resistant coating could be put on plastic roof battens to keep them from fading or changing color when they are out in the sun. This will extend the lifespan of the battens and improve their appearance.

How often should roof battens be inspected?

Most of the time, you should check the roof battens at least once a year, but in some cases, you may need to check them more often, especially if the roof is older.

When inspecting a roof batten, it is important to look for signs of damage or deterioration that could compromise the performance and integrity of the roofing system. Some things to look for include:

  • Rot or decay: Inspect the battens for signs of rot or decay, such as soft or spongy wood, cracks, or holes. Rot and decay can weaken the battens and make them more prone to failure.
  • Splitting or cracking: Look for signs of splitting or cracking in the wood, which can indicate that the battens are becoming weakened and may be prone to failure.
  • Insect damage: Check for signs of insect damage, such as holes or tunnels in the wood. Infestation by pests such as termites or carpenter ants can weaken the battens and compromise the integrity of the roofing system. You might even find the wood brittle to the touch.
  • Physical damage: Look for signs of physical damage to the battens, such as dents, scratches, or bending. This type of damage can weaken the battens and make them more prone to failure.
  • Loose or missing fasteners: Check to ensure that the battens are securely fastened to the roof deck and that there are no loose or missing fasteners. Loose or missing fasteners can allow the battens to shift or become dislodged, compromising the integrity of the roofing system.

If you detect any of these issues through your preliminary self-checks, it’s recommended that you contact a roofing professional twice a year to keep an eye on the batten.

What type of nails should be used for roof battens?

According to BS 5534, the nails used to fix roof battens to rafters should usually have a diameter of at least 3.35mm and a length of 65mm to provide a minimum of 40mm penetration into the rafter.

This will help to ensure that the battens are securely fastened to the rafters and able to provide the necessary support for the roofing system.

What’s the difference between wood roofs and metal roof battens?

Wood and metal roof battens are both materials that can be used to support and stabilize the roofing system. However, there are several key differences between the two materials:

  • Material: Wood roof battens are made of natural materials, such as softwood or hardwood, while metal roof battens are made of synthetic materials such as aluminum or steel.
  • Durability: Metal roof battens are generally more durable and resistant to decay and rot than wooden battens. They are also less prone to warping or splitting.
  • Cost: Metal roof battens are typically more expensive than wooden battens, although the overall cost of the roofing system will depend on a variety of factors, including the size and complexity of the roof and the type of roofing material being used.
  • Appearance: Wood roof battens can add a natural, rustic look to a roofing system, while metal roof battens have a more modern, industrial appearance.
  • Maintenance: Wood roof battens may require more frequent maintenance and treatment to protect them from moisture and decay, while metal roof battens are generally more low-maintenance.
  • Weight: Wood roof battens are generally lighter in weight than metal roof battens, which can make them easier to handle and install. Metal roof battens, on the other hand, are typically stronger and more rigid, which can make them better suited for supporting heavier roofing materials.
  • Fire resistance: Metal roof battens are generally more fire-resistant than wooden battens, making them a good choice for areas with a high risk of wildfire or other types of fire.
  • Conductivity: Metal roof battens are good conductors of heat and electricity, which can make them more prone to lightning strikes and other types of damage. Wooden battens are not conductive and are generally less prone to this type of damage.

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Author: Logan

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