Government consultation confirms the suitability of timber cladding for all building types below 18m in height
The outcome of the government’s in depth assessment of the use of different cladding materials in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy has confirmed that timber, where necessary enhanced with flame retardant (depending on aspect), remains fit for purpose and compliant with amended Building Regulations (in England), where the upper floor level of a building is less than 18m above ground, so enabling the market for this safe, environmentally positive, versatile and attractive cladding material to continue to grow.
This is the approach that Wood Protection Association (WPA) and the Confederation of Timber Industries lobbied for throughout the consultation period and we are pleased to see government has listened to our industry’s views. Buildings where the upper floor level exceeds 18m above external ground level – which do not represent a significant market for timber cladding - pose special design challenges and the decision to make non-combustible external cladding mandatory for this category was anticipated as a sensible design precaution in the wake of the lessons learnt from Grenfell Tower. The use of timber doors, door frames and windows in external walls on buildings over 18m continues to be approved.
Timber continues to be approved as a suitable material for external cladding under Building Regulations below 18m and where these regulations call for enhanced fire performance, tried and tested flame-retardant treatment processes are available to provide it. The fire performance of wood is well understood and years of experience in the use of timber cladding on all types of buildings combined with rigorous fire test requirements in BS and EN Standards has enhanced this understanding.
The reaction to fire properties of most wood-based materials can be enhanced by the application of flame retardants under factory-controlled conditions. WPA operates three complementary, independent quality schemes to verify flame retardant enhanced timber products have been manufactured appropriately for their intended end use under the WPA Benchmark FR banner.
Full technical details of these recent amendments to Building Regulations can be found in the new WPA FR Factsheet 5 “External Timber Cladding: Guidance to Amended Building Regulations December 2018”, available now free to download here.