A guide to builders’ metalwork

Here, in our latest blog, we look at the recent updates in our builders’ metalwork ranges.  These include a host of new ‘How to’ videos and a reminder of our service commitments, which include free of charge next day delivery anywhere in the UK.

If you are merchant reviewing your builders’ metalwork offer and want to grow your sales we can help. Whether you are new to builders’ metalwork, or simply looking to give your existing offer a kick start, our highly experienced team can guide you through the process. One of the most common questions we get asked by merchants is; what builders’ metalwork ranges should I stock? With so many different products, you need to be work with a supplier like us that understands the market and knows what your customers are needing them for on site.

Joist hangers represent one of the largest sectors in the fixings’ market and you might want to make sure that it forms the core stocked range within your branch. This is closely followed by items such as restraint straps and angle brackets, with most branches having them in stock or offered on short leadtimes. It helps that we offer free of charge next day delivery anywhere in the UK, so you can offer a wider range of builders’ metalwork without having to have large inventories.

A preference to use timber by many contractors and developers means that timber to timber connectors are growing in popularity and we can advise you on what are the best products to meet this demand. Timber to timber as well as timber to masonry fixings should form the basis of any builder’s metalwork range in your branch as they are used on all construction programmes.

Having the correct stock profile for builders’ metalwork is essential if you are looking to grow a larger customer base. Contractors, builders and roofers will all make your branch a destination if you have the right builders’ metalwork stock profile. You may also want to bear in mind that builders and contractors usually choose their own builders’ metalwork because it is unusual for it to be specified by an architect.

As a guide, in terms of quality, timber to timber joist hangers should be made from either galvanised steel to BS EN 10346:2009 DX51D or stainless steel to BS EN 10088-2 Grade 1.4301. They also need to comply with the Construction Product Regulations (CPR) and be CE marked where necessary in order to demonstrate compliance.

Both walls, floors and roofs inevitably involve a need for a large quantity of metal fixings and so getting the right stock profile in place will ensure that you have a rapid turnover of stock. Over the years, manufacturers of constructional fixings have developed a range of standardised designs, which means that merchants can meet the majority of customer needs by having a tight, core range of stocked items.

As well as offering you guidance on the most appropriate range of builders’ metalwork to offer, our website will provide you with some very useful support material. The latest of these is a series of ‘How to’ videos that help you understand specific product ranges as well as helping your customer understand how they are installed on site.

Our latest ‘How to’ videos include a number of builders’ metalwork ranges such as ‘How to install vertical and horizontal restraint straps’, ‘How to install timber to timber joist hangers’ as well as ‘A guide to stainless steel wall starter kits’. There are many other videos, too, which is why it’s worth regularly visiting our website at www.bpcfixings.com.

As construction sites become ever more complex and building performance more stringent it’s essential to have the right product ranges in your branch. If you are looking to review your builders’ metalwork offer with a view to growing sales, we can help.

Call our experienced team today on: 01924 364794.

How to specify cavity wall ties

Brick and block cavity wall ties are ontiese of the most common types of constructional elements used on site. However, it is relatively easy to select the incorrect type of cavity wall tie or specify an insufficient number along a given length of brick wall. Another area where careful consideration is needed is around openings and here any anomalies in the detailing can lead to issues further down the live.

Here are our top tips for choosing and using cavity wall ties:

  1. Make sure you are using the correct length of wall tie

Approved Document A, table 5, provides guidance on the length of wall tie that should be used:

 Table 6: maximum spacing of cavity wall ties
 

 

Width of cavity (mm)

 

Horizontal spacing (mm)

 

Vertical spacing (mm)

 

 

Other comment

50-75 900 450 See notes 1 and 2
76 – 100 750 450 See notes 1, 2 and 3
Notes:

1.     The horizontal and vertical spacing of wall ties may be varied if necessary to suit the construction provided the number of ties per unit are maintained.

2.     Wall ties spaced not more than 300mm apart vertically should be provided within 225mm from the sides of all openings with unbonded jambs

3.     Vertical Twist Type ties, or ties of equivalent performance should be used in cavities wider than 75mm

 

  1. Use stainless steel

Cavity wall ties should be manufactured from stainless steel because of the materials superior strength and corrosion resistance.

  1. Use an insulation clamp

Avoid hooking wall ties together using masonry globs to keep insulation in place because it can lead to cold bridging and dampness. The remedial action for this can be extensive, including having to re-build the wall. It is often possible to detect where insulation has moved, which usually manifests itself with cold areas on the inner wall within the room, and this can lead to condensation and mould growth as well as excessive heat loss.

Fortunately, there are simple and inexpensive solutions to this problem, such as our Insulation clips. This is a universal retaining clip that holds insulation in position, where it should be, against the inner leaf of a cavity wall.

Use only insulation clips that are compatible with your wall tie, such as our SS/DTW Double Triangular Wall Tie.

  1. Prevent moisture travelling along the wall tie

When cavity walls first began to be constructed around 100 years ago builders used ‘through stones’ instead of wall ties to maintain the cavity. However, this often lead to moisture tracking along these stones, either from the outside, or penetrating poor mortar joins and weeping down the inside of the outer leaf and across to the inner leaf.  It also allowed cold bridging, with both resulting in damp areas on internal plastered walls exactly where the ‘through stone’ was located.

It is still possible for moisture to travel along cavity wall ties, although you can avoid this by setting them so that they ‘fall’ outwards.

It also worth choosing a wall tie with a double drip feature as this further prevents moisture travelling to the inner leaf, but always make sure that the ‘drip’ kink in the wall tie points downwards and is positioned near the centre of the cavity.

  1. Choose CE marked products

Cavity wall ties that have a CE mark is your reassurance that the range complies with a harmonised European Standards or have a European Technical Approval. All our wall ties have CE marking and have been independently tested by a Notified Body to:

  • Compressive load capacity
  • Tensile load capacity
  • Water shedding capacity Resistant
  • Durability
  • Dangerous substance

CE marking doesn’t replace Building Regulations and so you still need to make sure your wall ties meet relevant standards.

  1. Reduce wall tie spacing at openings

You should reduce the vertical spacing of wall ties around openings such as windows, doors, roof verges and movement joints to a maximum 300mm and placing them within 225mm of the opening. Effectively that means a wall tie every course of blocks within 225mm of the opening.

Cavity wall ties are an important element in ensuring the stability of your cavity walls. Our guidelines above will provide you with information on the correct selection, spacing and installation of wall ties.

The above are for guidance only. Before choosing wall ties always refer to Approved Document A for more detail.

For more information on our range of wall ties, visit: www.bpcfixings.com or call: 01924 364794.

Why is demand for fencing, decking and gardening ranges from holiday parks increasing?

According to figures from Visit England, a record breaking 4.3 million people visited this country in 2016. That represents a rise of around 7 percent on the previous year and looks set to continue as the pound falls against other currencies, making UK holidays for those travelling from abroad cheaper. Add to this the fact that a weaker pound makes it more expensive for UK citizens to go abroad (instead choosing a staycation) and you can see why holiday parks are becoming busier.

Many leisure and caravan park operators have already benefitted from this trend. Some have seized the opportunity and accelerated their improvement programmes in order to make their facilities even more attractive to holiday makers. Park Holidays, the largest provider of Caravan Holiday Parks in the South of England, has already reported a 40% increase in the sales of their holiday caravans and lodges to British families compared to last year’s figures at the start of July.

The rise in staycations and an increase in investments by holiday and leisure park home operators has resulted in an influx of orders for our fencing, decking and gardening ranges. These include essential items such as post anchors, galvanised mesh cubes, gates and planters. As part of our one-stop-shop we also offer a vast range of building refurbishment items such as angle brackets, corner brackets, plasterers’ angle beads, joist hangers, cavity wall ties and restraint straps amongst many others. All essential items if you are refurbishing an existing facility or building new on your park. Our wide range of constructional fixings and fencing, decking and gardening ranges are available from builders’ merchants and stockists throughout the UK.

A holiday park operator in West Yorkshire that is benefitting from this trend is Nostell Priory Holiday Park, which recently specified our Powapost® Bolt Down Shoes during construction of a new post and rail fence. These were ordered from Howarth Timber in Wakefield by the park’s operator, Blue Sky Resorts Ltd, and delivered direct to the customer in packs of six.

The bolt down post shoes were used to create new boundary fence at the park, which is located in a scenic part of West Yorkshire, close to the historic palladium house Nostell Priory. Our Powapost® Bolt Down Shoe range is designed for use when posts are required to be installed on an existing hard surface such as a concrete or timber base. That makes them ideally suited for use during construction of landscaping projects including fencing, gazebos, pergolas and other garden structures made from timber that require strong, stable ground anchors.

Howarth timber delivered the post shoes to the Holiday Park, with the contractor using them to install a timber post and rail fence alongside a new footpath. The post shoes were bolted to a concrete base, before inserting the posts and using the Twin Bolt arrangement to securely tighten the steel jacket around the timber posts. Alternatively, some customer prefer to choose our easyGrip version, which features a wedge type grip that enables quick and easy installation without the need for tightening bolts. Both versions of our post show are designed to be fixed to a solid substrate base such as concrete, timber or paving.

The great thing about our Powapost® Post Shoes is that they allow the shoes to be securely tightened around the timber post, whilst still allowing the post to be easily removed should it be damaged or become rotten.

The contractors who installed the Powapost® shoes at Nostell Priory specified our 90 x 90mm post shoe (PS1/90). Our range of Bolt Down Post Shoes are available in 50, 60, 75, 90 and 100mm versions. All sizes are available in standard Twin Bolt and easyGrip design.

The contractor chose BPC Fixings because they had used our products previously on a number of projects and therefore knew that they would receive excellent quality and service. There are other reasons why more landscaping contractors are choosing BPC fixings for their fencing, decking and gardening ranges. One of these is because we offers a range of complementary PowaPost ® Drive-In Post Spikes, Flush Fit Bolt Down Shoes, Concrete-In Post Shoes, repair spikes, post extenders and supports.

Nostell Priory BPC
Nostell Priory BPC

For more information on our fencing, decking and gardening ranges, visit: https://www.bpcfixings.com/downloads/BPC-garden-DIY.pdf

Construction connectors

Timber frame builds are growing in popularity as the UK construction industry looks to embrace the benefits of off-site, whilst creating more sustainability developments. There are other reasons why timber is being used more often as a constructional element, including the fact that it minimises on-site waste, is 100% recyclable and has a number of structural and insulative properties. Aside from that, growing tress take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, meaning it has the ability to create developments that are carbon negative. Being highly workable, lightweight and strong means the popularity of timber construction techniques and the connectors that are used on site, looks set to continue its increase.

Timber to timber connectors

Growth in timber frame construction has resulted in a wider range of timber to timber connectors being offer by manufacturers such as BPC Fixings. Many of these are based on the original galvanised steel angle bracket that has been used by builders and roofers for generations. Variations of this angle bracket for use with timber construction includes Holding Down Angles, Angle Plates, light and heavy duty Angle Brackets and adjustable Angle Brackets. Alongside this are Angle Braces, Corner Stretcher Plates and Slotted Brackets. In combination with the wide range of flat plate connectors, these timber construction connectors are an essential accessories for builders and roofers.

Galvanised steel or stainless steel connectors

When choosing timber to timber connectors it is important to specify those that are manufactured in a quality assessed facility, such as those holding ISO9001. Thickness of steel used to manufacturing the angle brackets and angle plates matters as well. Depending on the weight loading, exposure and other factors, this usually ranges from 1.2mm or 1.5mm thickness steel for light duty applications, through to 3mm for heavy duty angle brackets.

Timber to timber constructional connectors are usually available in a variety of types – mild steel unfinished, galvanised steel, powder coated steel or stainless steel. Our AB Angle Brackets are manufactured from stainless steel grade 304 austenitic to BS EN 10088-2 Grade 1.4301, making it suitable for aggressive and exposed locations. It is available from stock in all sizes. Our timber to timber constructional fixings are galvanised to BS EN 10346:2009 +G275.

Galvanised and stainless steel are the two most commonly used materials used for timber construction as well as roofing projects. Both are highly durable, strong and able to withstand extreme weather conditions, including the negative pressures that try to lift off a roof as winds pass over it. As both galvanised and stainless steel constructional connectors are durable and long lasting, choosing between them really depends on site requirements and client or user preferences.

Fast and next day delivery

All activities on site depend on having products on site when you need them, which is why it is so important to have a reliable supplier for your connectors and fastenings. This is one of the reasons why we offer a next day delivery to our customers either to a merchant’s branch or direct to site. Backing up our stockists with this level of service means that builders and roofers can be confident of having the right connectors on site, when they need them. Most of our products are available from stock

Building with timber is a highly effective method of improving a projects sustainability because growing tree lock up carbon dioxide as it grows. That makes timber builds a net carbon store rather than an emitter. As the popularity of timber grows, complementary products such as timber to timber connectors ensure that these benefits are easily accessible.

For more information on high quality construction fixings from BPC Building Products, visit: www.bpcfixings.com or call: 01924 364794.

Trends in the constructional fixings market

Timber frame construction has been used for centuries, although its popularity has grown recently due to the increased focus on embodied energy and off-site techniques. Open panel timber frame construction is the most common system used in the UK, accounting for around 80% of the market. More advanced closed panel systems that require hoisting into position have a smaller but growing share of the market. In addition to the structural elements, both floors and roofs are now being more frequently specified as timber cassettes, ready for rapid assembly on site.

BPC Fixings manufactures in Yorkshire and offers next day delivery with no minimum order quantity.

Although timber frame construction is growing, it is still a relatively small part of the market, but one that is beginning to drive our product development process. However, traditional construction techniques make up the vast majority of the fixings category, which comprises of angle brackets and plates for pitched roofs and joist hangers for floors. There are also a wide range or restraint straps, designed to securely connect timber to brick or block walls as well as wall ties, frame cramps and bead and mesh ranges.

Timber to timber and timber to masonry fixings are a critical part of the construction programme from both a specifiers and contractors point of view. For specifiers, they have a direct bearing on the long term performance of the building, which is reflected in the fact that fixings are manufactured from steel that complies with harmonised European standards. For example, all our timber to timber joist hangers are made from galvanised steel to BS EN 10346:2009 DX51D as standard, and stainless steel to BS EN 10088-2 Grade 1.4301 to order. They also need to comply with the Construction Product Regulations (CPR) and our range is CE marked where necessary in order to demonstrate compliance.

Contractors and roofers also need to be confident that the fixings they source are up to doing the job. That means being manufactured to the required standard as well as being easy to source and to fit on site.

Joist hangers represent one of the largest sectors in the fixings’ market, closely followed by items such as restraint straps and angle brackets, and the range we developed reflects this makeup. Both roofing and flooring works inevitably involve a need for a range of fixings, although there are a range of standardised designs that we develop that cover more jobs on site.

Mini hanger from BPC in situ.

Our fixings are available from stockists and we support customers with next day delivery, direct to site where necessary. These kinds of investments in service have been key to driving forward our business. We have also invested half a million pounds in new manufacturing equipment recently at our site in Wakefield in order to build on these commitments.

 

Investing in the future

The future for the fixings’ market looks strong with a move towards off-site and timber frame driving new product development, although traditional construction techniques will continue to account for the majority of the market for many years. Having been manufacturing in the UK for the last 40 years we firmly see ourselves as being on the side of roofers and contractors – as a company we continue to re-invest where it adds value to our customer proposition. It helps that we specialise in this area as that means we have a better understanding of what is required.

The market dynamics look set to continue improving and we are seeing signs of growing confidence in the sector; as house prices continue to rise and low interest rates encourage homeowners to spend on RMI, with loft conversion and extensions. On the new build side, too, a desire by the government to build more houses will ramp up demand in this area. All in all, the market for fixings looks very positive, which means the value of sourcing from a supplier that understands the market and can develop products that makes the job easier for contractors and roofers cannot be underestimated. As a company, we remain focussed on making traditional and hybrid construction techniques, such as timber frame, easier, whilst meeting the challenges of ever changing legislation.

Where do I source constructional fixings?

Timber to timber and timber to masonry fixings are by their very nature notoriously difficult to differentiate because they fulfil a very specific single purpose. This has lead many merchants to look to their supply partners for non-product based initiatives that give them an edge in the market.

Joist hangers from BPC Fixings are produced from galvanised steel to BS EN 10346:2009 DX51D + G275 as standard, or stainless steel available to order.

The challenge for manufacturers, therefore, is to develop service options that enable merchants to capitalise on current market opportunities, for example, continued strength of the timber frame and RMI (renovation, maintenance and improvement) sectors. When it comes to timber to timber and timber to masonry fixings merchants can differentiate themselves by offering customers ex-stock availability or next day delivery options.

These non- product differentiators create a very powerful selling proposition. For instance, fixings’ suppliers that provide merchants with a next day delivery, direct to site where necessary, will find it a highly effective way of earning loyalty from customers. We’ve also found that competitions that we run on behalf of merchants helps generate interest and footfall, with the latest giving end customers the chance to win official Euro2016 merchandise.

 

Strict merchant supply policy

Our approach on all our ranges, including our entire timber to timber and timber to masonry fixings is that we have a merchant only policy. This means merchants have the confidence that their prices won’t be undermined by us offering similar trade prices to builders and roofers. This has been an important factor in the success of our business over the last 35-plus years and many merchants that have adopted the range have performed particularly well in this market.

Of course, in a competitive market such as constructional fixings, where often there is limited opportunity for product differentiation, adopting a rigid supply policy is only the start point. Many merchants are looking for differentiation in terms of the service package, too, which means having a supply partner that they can rely on. That partner has to be willing to hold high levels of stock to ensure they avoid stock out situations, a sure fire way to lose customers and also to offer next day delivery anywhere in the UK, ideally with no minimum order quantity.

Both of these are crucial to a successful merchant operation and is one of the reasons why we have invested so much in our warehouse and distribution over the last few years.

BPC Fixings manufactures in Yorkshire and offers next day delivery with no minimum order quantity.

Our approach is that a good supplier makes sure that merchants are free to concentrate on what they are good at – selling products to trade and DIY’ers. Next day delivery and holding over a million products in stock means that we can be responsive to merchants’ needs. It helps that we manufacture in the UK, which keeps us leaner, a crucial factor in maintaining merchant margin.

In an effort to convey this potential we encourage all our customers to visit our manufacturing facility in Wakefield, Yorkshire. Our 50,000 sq ft of warehousing and distribution capacity gives us the ability to hold most of our products in stock, which incidentally increases to 100% on our fixings ranges.

 

Understanding the trade

The timber to timber and timber to masonry category is an important part of the construction sector. They are critical to the long term performance of the building, which is reflected in the fact that most fixings now have to be manufactured to British Standard. For example, all our timber to timber joist hangers are made from galvanised steel to BS EN 10346:2009 DX51D as standard, and stainless steel to BS EN 10088-2 Grade 1.4301 to order.

Joist hangers represent one of the largest sectors in the connectors’ market, closely followed by items such as restraint straps and angle brackets, and the range we developed reflects this makeup. Both roofing and flooring works inevitably involve the need for timber to timber or timber to masonry fixings, and having a suitable range available, with the necessary service backup, is essential to pick up sales. We usually work with merchants to identify a core range to hold in the branch if they wish, which will allow them to pick up trade counter sales. For other items, used for planned works, we deliver to an agreed schedule, including next day direct to site in many cases. Our merchant customers find that offering a very tight range of known volume sellers is the best way to grow sales without complicating their systems by holding unnecessary stock of slow moving but essential products.

Helping merchants grow their business

The future for the fixings’ market looks good for merchants. Our advances in EDI and email ordering has definitely made things easier for customers and our recent half a million pound investment in new manufacturing equipment will help us push more value through to merchants.

The market dynamics also look set to improve; as house prices continue to rise and low interest rates encourage homeowners to spend on RMI, for example, with loft conversion and extensions, it will create more opportunities for merchants. On the new build side of the equation too, a desire by the government to build more houses, will ramp up demand in this area. All in all, the market for fixings looks very positive, which means the value of working with a supplier that understands the market and can offer clear elements of difference cannot be underestimated.

How do I choose angle brackets?

Angle brackets are used for many applications on construction sites and because of that they are available in a multitude of different sizes and designs. In addition, they are used for DIY, gardening, home repairs and renovation projects. In fact, angle brackets are an essential piece of kit to have with you on any kind of construction or gardening project!

Here, we look at some of the factors that you need to considered when choosing where to source your Angle Brackets.

What quality standards apply to Angle Brackets?

Heavy duty general purpose angle brackets should be manufactured from 2.5mm thick galvanised steel to BS EN 10346:2009 +G275. If you choose Angle Brackets made to this specification you can be sure they are durable, low maintenance and will do the job they are intended to do.

All our general purpose heavy duty angle brackets are made to this standard.

Our range of AB40 Heavy Duty Angle Brackets are manufactured from 3mm thick galvanised steel. The 40mm wide brackets and plates provide a strong connection, allowing for the use of bolts, nails, screws and coach screws. They are suitable for timber to timber, timber to masonry and timber to steel applications.

We also offer a number of light duty Angle Brackets and connectors, and these ranges are complemented with flat connector plates, ‘T’ and ‘L’ shaped brackets and corner plates – ensuring you always have the right connector to hand.

What angle brackets should I use in harsh environments?

Our AB40 Heavy Duty Angle Bracket range is manufactured in stainless steel grade 304 austenitic to BS EN 10088-2 Grade 1.4301.

It is available from stock in all sizes, giving you a versatile reinforced bracket for 90 degree connections in harsh environments. The AB40 Angle Bracket is suitable for connected to timber or masonry, or combination of both, using nails, screws and / or bolts and coach screws.

What other factors should I consider when choosing an Angle bracket supplier?

There are many factors to consider when choosing an angle bracket supplier. Cost is usually high on the list although it is important to balance this against quality and look for a range that offers all round value for money. Call backs to site because an angle bracket is rusting prematurely or failing in some other way is usually the consequence of choosing the wrong supplier!

Other important consideration when choosing angle brackets include material, finish, strength, constructability, availability and service. It is always better to take these into account before making a final decision. Most construction projects need hundreds of angle brackets, even thousands on larger developments, so it is important to evaluate what each range has to offer. Get it wrong and the cost of replacing them doesn’t bear thinking about!

What type of Angle bracket?

There are a huge range of angle brackets, many of which are designed for a specific group of tasks, and include:

  • HDA Holding Down Angle
  • AB Angle Bracket
  • FCP Flat Connector Plate
  • AP Angle Plate
  • AB40 Heavy Duty Angle Brackets
  • CB Light Duty Corner Bracket
  • AAB Adjustable Angle Bracket
  • ‘T’ and ‘L’ Brackets
  • Light Duty Angle Braces
  • Corner Stretcher Plate
  • Corner Plate
  • Mending Plates
  • Dual Coat Angle Bracket

What is the best finish?

Most Angle Brackets are supplied with a galvanised finish. The principal benefit is that the galvanised coating can have a life expectancy far in excess of 50 years. The galvanised coating we use on our angle bracket ranges has a tough metallurgical structure that gives outstanding resistance to mechanical damage in transport, fitting on site and service.

Our galvanising process also ensures that every part of the angle bracket is protected, even recesses, corners and inaccessible areas. This isn’t possible with other, non-galvanised coatings.

Are there other coating choices?

Where an angle bracket is visible you may wish to choose our Dual Coat Angle Bracket range, which includes angle brackets, joist hangers and universal connector plates.

The range is suitable for a wide range of garden, DIY and landscaping applications as well as furniture upcycling and re-painting projects. It is manufactured from galvanised mild steel and then powder coated after fabrication for superior dual coated corrosion protection – providing both superior performance and a more aesthetically pleasing appearance.

Angle Brackets can accommodate most situations that require connectors and that makes them an essential item in any builders’ metalwork toolkit. They complement our range of joist hangers, wall brackets, restraint straps, floor joists and other timber to timber and timber to masonry connectors.

How do I fix a masonry crack?

Here Gareth Simister, Managing Director at BPC Building Products, looks at how mechanical stitching systems provide a cost effective and permanent method of repairing cracked masonry walls, avoiding the expense of a complete rebuild.

Until relatively recently a commonly used method to repair masonry cracks was to place mortar or grout without any other support directly into the fissure. Sealant was sometimes used as well and again injected into the crack before sand was applied on to the top of the uncured sealant to give it the appearance of mortar. Typically, these methods proved unreliable over the long term as the mortar, grout or sealant didn’t accommodate for any further movement across the crack – principally because it was not mechanically supported.

Before making any crack repair it’s important to identify the cause of the crack as this can influence any further repair action you take. Failure to do this may cause more cracks to develop in the future. A study recently carried out by BRE (Building Research Establishment), highlighted a way of categorising different masonry cracks. Six different categories were identified with all but one category requiring some form of remedial action. The categories are:

  1. Hairline cracks
  2. Fine cracks
  3. Cracks easily filled
  4. Cracks that require some opening up and can be patched.
  5. Extensive damage which requires replacing sections of walls.
  6. Structural damage that requires partial or complete rebuilding.

All these masonry cracks can occur for a number of reasons. One of the most common causes is ground movement, due to settlement of new foundations. Changes beneath the foundations of any building can cause it to move slightly which can result in cracks developing. Other common causes include temperature influence, damp, wind loads, fractured masonry, lack of foundation, lowering of ground water, imbalanced building grounds, road traffic vibration, air traffic, damaged drains and proximity of trees to the building.

Latest methods of remediating masonry cracks involve mechanically stitching the area, combined with a special grout that locks everything in place. A great example of this is PowaTwist™, which consists of stainless steel bars and a special grout. The stainless steel helical-design of the bars used with these kinds of systems provides greater effectiveness in tackling cracks because it distributes the load over the entire length, avoiding load and tension concentrations. When choosing a stitching system like this it’s always worth making sure that the bars are made from stainless steel as that means they are suitable for aggressive environments. The grout can be injected with an applicator gun and completely fills all voids before rapidly developing its compressive strength.

The best way of stabilising cracked masonry is to use a mechanical stitching system because it redistributes tensile loads along the masonry. This eliminates further development of the crack which may occur if a simple injection system is used. So, if you want to get on top of masonry cracks and avoid a complete rebuild, it’s worth looking at crack stitching systems.

How to create the perfect garden fence

How to create the perfect garden fence pic 1

There is nothing more satisfying than creating a garden fence that is strong, sturdy and which looks good. So, if your existing fence is looking a bit worse for wear, held up by bits of string or propped with timber, or you simply need a new fence, then here’s how to sort it out once and for all.

Before beginning your fencing project it is always best to plan in advance and source from a supplier that is going to make the job easier for you. A good starting point, and one that avoids the expense and hassle of a concrete base, is using Drive-in Post Spikes. Aside from avoiding the cost and hard work of creating a concrete base, they make the erection of fencing as well as gazebos, pergolas and other garden structures quick and easy.

There is a great range of post spikes called PowaPost® – they give you a really strong anchorage for timber posts. When it comes to post spikes it’s definitely worth choosing quality because if you don’t they soon start to rust and look unsightly. A sure sign that it is a good quality drive-in fence post spike is when it’s manufactured from heavy duty mild steel with dual coated corrosion protection. A good quality steel post spike should be electro zinc plated and then have a moisture resistant powder coating, which results in a superior protection against rust. Hot Dipped Galvanised post supports are also available for an extra durable finish.

The great thing about drive-in post spikes is that they can be used in a wide variety of ground types. For instance, if you have stony ground, such as old, broken foundations, a steel fence spike is a really effective way of establishing a strong support for timber posts. Try and drive a timber stake through this kind of ground with a large hammer and you’ll soon splinter it beyond use. Digging a hole isn’t really an option, either, as it can be hard work and you end up with a large hole requiring lots of concrete!

Once in the ground, metal post spikes protect the timber from water, fungal attack and insect damage. That means your fence will last longer. Where post spikes aren’t used, the timber section of the post below ground level tends to rot quickly, especially if the soil is wet, causing them to break off eventually.

Good quality steel knock-in fence post spikes are suitable for most ground conditions. All you have to do is drive them into the ground, which is even easier if you choose a range like PowaPost®, which has a special driving tool. Once you’ve driven-in the metal spikes, the timber posts can be fixed by either twin bolts or EasyGrip design for a strong connection. The EasyGrip design holds the timber post in a tight wedge without the need for fixings, whereas the Twin Bolt arrangement mechanically tightens around the post allowing easy removal of damaged or rotten posts.

How to create the perfect garden fence pic 2If your fence crosses over an existing hard surface such as a concrete, paving stones or tarmac, there are steel post anchors available with a flat base that can be bolted securely, creating the same effect as driving the post spike into the ground. Take a look at PowaPost® Bolt Down Shoe, which is designed for use when posts are required to be installed on these kinds of hard surfaces.

Most drive-in post spikes are available with a range of accessories. So, if you need a repair spike (where an existing timber post has broken) or post extender (allows you to easily add decorative panels and trellis), check that your supplier offers it as part of the range before ordering.

Before beginning any work on boundary fences, it’s worth checking who owns it (if there is an existing dilapidated fence, the general rule is if the posts are on your side of the boundary, the fence is yours). However, it is best to check your deeds first or have a friendly chat with your neighbours before you start any work!

When it comes to choosing the fencing material there are a number of different types. The most readily available are larch shiplap panels, which are available (along with the Powapost® range) from your local builders merchants and many online tool and fixings retailers. Other types of fence materials include hazel or willow hurdles, shiplap cedar and trellising.

The golden rule is; Fences can take up a lot of space in the garden and block our light, so it is worth spending time planning exactly what you want from it – before you begin!