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Building Products January 2018

NEW BUILD STEEL APPEAL Steve Durdant-Hollamby, managing director of Alumasc Water Management Solutions, explains the rising trend for steel rainwater systems in residential new build. 16 BUILDING PRODUCTS | JANUARY 2018 choice and a very long, trouble-free life. Steel is lightweight so it’s easy to install, and no silicone sealant is required. It is also immensely strong and robust. More importantly, it stays robust, unlike materials such as plastic which fade and age under the impact of ultraviolet (UV) light. We are increasingly aware of the harmful effects of too much sun and the permanent damage UV light does to our skin. Less well recognised is the affect of UV on plastics such as PVC which discolour, and become brittle and crack. As the climate changes and temperatures rise, it’s likely we’ll see rising UV levels too, which reduce the effective lifetime of plastic materials. Facing extremes of temperatures and UV exposure, the ideal rainwater system shouldn’t expand and contract as this risks compromising joint integrity. Longer runs of plastic guttering, especially on larger properties, can be very noisy on warm summer nights, creaking and cracking as they expand, making it difficult to sleep. Steel offers longer lengths and minimal expansion for a quieter home with minimal noise disruption. Steel rainwater systems are designed to perform in extreme temperatures, resisting thermal expansion and contraction and ensuring minimal For many years, the new build sector has looked to plastic for the majority of its gutter systems and downpipes. It has been the straightforward and most costeffective solution for many domestic properties. But developments in metal rainwater solutions, particularly steel, mean housebuilders and contractors can now benefit from new options to help them meet the needs of a changing market and a changing world. Extreme weather patterns – soaring temperatures, strong winds, flash floods – are reminders that our climate is changing, and changing faster than anticipated. Violent storms and torrential rainfall are now commonplace throughout the year, yet our properties and infrastructure are not built to cope with it. Unless there is a problem, most people don’t think about rainwater systems because they tend to be fitted discretely to the edges, where roofs meet walls, or tucked away near the corners, where walls meet walls. Our eyes tend to focus first on roofs and walls, or the windows and doors. Yet if a large volume of rainwater falls on our roof, sometimes in great violent bursts, it has to be removed quickly in a controlled manner so the property is protected and we stay dry and secure inside. Protecting property is what rainwater systems are for. Gutters and downpipes are the building’s main lines of defence against harmful water penetration. If they succeed, they help to sustain the use and value of the building. If they fail and water gets in, the fabric of the building is weakened and its value eroded. Steel demand A sustained surge in the demand for steel rainwater systems, especially in social housing and residential new build, tells us that specifications are changing in these markets. Metal gutters and downpipes bring their strengths to the climate change frontline, as well as meeting the aesthetic challenge. More robust, long lasting, high capacity gutters channel water safely from the roof to the ground, so it can be drained and treated before discharging in an environmentally controlled, responsible way. Colour choices, contemporary profiles and concealed jointing contribute to the all-important first impression. Local authorities and private developers are recognising the benefits of a metal system over plastic for strength, durability, capacity, colour


Building Products January 2018
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