The LRWA has recorded significant growth in the liquid applied waterproofing market in the last five years.

Terry Wain LRWA

We’ve spoken to Terry Wain, technical secretary at the Liquid Roofing and Waterproofing Association (LRWA), and asked what impact this has had on the industry – good and bad.

Q: Explain the rate of growth in the liquid applied waterproofing market

Liquid applied waterproofing is the fastest growing area of the flat roofing sector. The LRWA recorded an 18% growth in market share for liquid applied waterproofing between 2011 and 2013 alone. A rise in LRWA membership also reflects sector growth with an increase from 11 manufacturer members in 2011, to 20 in 2016.

Q: What affect has this rapid growth had on the industry?

The increased demand for liquid waterproofing has been a positive result for many contractors and manufacturers alike. Business has been booming in both new build and refurbishment projects. Yet, as with any fast growing sector, it has presented some issues.

There has been an influx of new manufacturers emerging into the market, as well as established organisations adding liquids to their range. When specifying any building product, a contractor needs to know that it will offer genuine, long-term performance aligned to a proven track record of the manufacturer. Poor product performance could lead to water ingress in a flat roofing project.   Working with a LRWA manufacturer member ensures quality due to the stringent membership criteria.

The increased sale of liquid applied membranes through distribution networks offers an additional challenge in the market because although there are some good product systems available, there are concerns that operatives aren’t being trained properly and that quality of application isn’t getting checked on site.  As an association, one of our long term key goals is to tackle this issue.

Q: What do contractors need to look out for?

As a contractor, you need to know the roofing product will offer genuine, long-term performance and a proven track record. We’d always recommend contractors seek advice from a trusted trade association such as the LRWA, which is the only recognised body in liquid applied membranes to produce compliant guidance notes and Codes of Practice, and has stringent manufacturer membership criteria.

Contractors should also make sure manufacturers have management systems that meet ISO 9001 standards, providing trained technical staff to give support from the office and out on site, achieving independent product accreditations such as BBA and ETA certificates, and supplying systems with long term guarantees.

A manufacturers’ guarantee should include end-to-end support, a technically trained member of staff who has a clear understanding of what could happen in the event of a system failure and site assessments to ensure expertise is built into every aspect of the project.

Q: What support and training is available in liquid roofing and how can this be accessed?

There is no set regulation on training, but operatives should achieve NVQ Level 2, which promotes quality standards to both clients and end users.

There are many organisations that offer roof training courses, however contractors must be extremely vigilant when choosing a training provider as the quality standards of these companies can vary considerably. The LRWA delivers a Specialist Apprenticeship Program and Specialist Up-Skilling Program, aimed at improving the skill quality of all operatives and supporting the young installers of tomorrow.

But it’s not all down to contractors to take responsibility of their own training, and manufacturers should operate their own approved contractor schemes, ensuring roofing contractors are provided with the full training needed to work with the manufacturers’ products properly and are supported on site to deliver high quality projects.

LRWA manufacturer members for instance must show commitment to developing training in the application of its own products, and the LRWA launched its Basic Competency Programme (BCP) in 2015, which has enhanced the quality of manufacturer training.

Q: What does this mean for the future of liquid roofing and waterproofing?

With more and more liquid products emerging onto the market, it’s important for contractors to make the right choices from specification to application, to ensure quality standards are continued to be met. Whether it is a new or a long established product system, an overseas import or locally made, it’s important to remember that a quality manufacturer must have the correct certification, technical support, training programme, long-term guarantees and site inspection procedures to ensure peace of mind and quality assurance for the roofing contractor and ultimately, a sound waterproofing for the end user.