Racking Modifications to Protect Timber from the Great British Weather

Racking Modifications to Protect Timber from the Great British Weather

All merchants with a timber yard will understand only too well one universal truth – wood and rain do not mix well together.

Even treated timber, if stored outside for any length of time, will go through successive cycles of getting wet and drying out again until succumbing to shrinkage, bowing and warping, making it all but worthless.

This can cost merchants thousands of pounds each year, not to mention relegating once-good materials to the bargain bucket or worse still, the skip.

It also adds to material cost inflation as less timber is available to the market and merchants need to recoup their losses somewhere along the line.

It’s a lose-lose situation for all, but sadly one that could be on the rise. As the UK sees more severe weather events due to the changing climate, damaged timber – not to mention other outdoor-stored products – is becoming a common problem.

It is no surprise therefore that forward thinking merchants are looking for innovative outdoor storage solutions that offer better protection for their stock.

This is driving a trend for modifying and extending cantilever racking to enclose timber and other vulnerable products more effectively, meaning they are less impacted by bad weather and less prone to water-damage.

Mike Gorman, Sales Director of Yorkshire-based racking supplier Filstorage, said chief among these solutions are racking canopies and double canopies, as well as cladding for the back and sides of racking systems.

Cantilever Racking with canopy

The company has seen an upturn in orders for such products as the relentless rain of the past six months has forced merchants’ hands to find a solution.

Mike said: “There’s no doubt that the weather patterns of the UK are changing, with longer, hotter summers and warmer, wetter winters.

“But the unprecedented rainfall we’ve seen over the past six months or so has been a real challenge for merchants that store timber and other heavy side materials outside.

“As a result, merchants are increasingly looking for storage solutions that will better protect their products from the weather, particularly those with a large stock of wood.

“Some of the big multiples have tackled this by creating the capacity to store timber and other weather-affected products inside, but this is out of the question for most merchants, especially independents, which are looking for a more cost effective solution. In most cases, this means modifying their existing racking to provide the protection they need.”

Chief among these modifications that have seen an upsurge in popularity is the double canopy, which provides a significant overhang on both sides of the racking, sheltering products from rain.

The two canopy panels slant inwards towards the centre, creating a Y-shaped structure at the top of the racking which channels rain water off into a drainage system.

Canopies like this are extremely effective at stopping rain reaching the product rails, but on taller racking rain can still blow in from the sides.

For this, some merchants are turning to back and side cladding, almost enclosing the products and offering the ultimate protection against inclement weather.

“Bolting on weather protection to existing racking is a cost-effective solution because compared to restructuring your yard or extending warehousing, it requires relatively little investment for almost the same level of protection,” Mike said.

“However, it is essential merchants understand the regulations around this. For example, it is not possible to completely enclose racking without applying for planning permission to do so. Consideration must also be given to ensure snow and wind loads are catered for – the size of the racking and cladding will have an impact on this.”

Mike added that before deciding on a weather protection solution, it is vital merchants find out if their racking can be modified, as it is not always possible.

He said: “Some cantilever racking can be modified with canopies and cladding easily, whereas other brands of racking need to be adapted by a professional racking company before being modified.

“Unfortunately, there are some types of racking which can neither be modified or adapted to fit weather protection modifications, and in these instances, it can be difficult to protect timber or other outdoor-stored products against bad weather.

“Thankfully, the majority of racking we find in merchants, and all the racking we supply, can be modified in some way to increase the protection it offers. It is rare we find a system which cannot be improved upon at all.”

To find out more about solutions to protect your timber from the worst the British weather can throw at it, contact Filstorage on (01430) 410450 or email sales@filstorage.com.

Featured in Builders Merchant Journal May 2024 page 17