n this, the first of the special interviews that we will be sharing to celebrate our 20th year in business, we have spent some time with Mark who is the Branch Manager at our Dorking branch.
At only 45 he has been with About Roofing Supplies for most of his working life!
Q: About Roofing Supplies opened the doors of our branch at Esher in Surrey to customers in February 1999 – when did you start working for the company?
It would have been in March or April that year.
Q: And you were the first employee?
Yes, I was the first member of staff apart from the Directors who started the company to begin with.
Q: So you have been with the company for 20 years: What job did you start doing, and how have you got to where you are now?
I was actually taken on to work part time for two days a week, as the company had not been open for long and no one was sure that there would be much for me to do.
Initially I was helping in the yard and delivering goods on the small truck that we had then – by hand of course as we did not have a lorry with a crane to begin with.
In my second week I worked for three days, and in my third week I went full time – it got very busy very quickly!
After a few months I was put through my HGV training, and I then drove HGVs for the company for the next four years.
I left briefly, before coming back to work with Garrett (Courtney our Sales Director) at our new, as it was then, Redhill branch.
After a spell driving again, I was promoted to Assistant Manager of our Redhill branch, and then became Branch Manager of our Dorking branch three years ago.
Q: What is it about the company that has made you stay for so long?
I like that it is family run and still independent. I knew two of the Directors when we were all at school together, so it feels that I am working with the guys who own About Roofing rather than for them. It’s a family, which although it is a cliché is true in this case. I also like that you are valued as an individual – too many people work for companies where they are ‘just a number’. At About Roofing I matter……we all matter.
Q: What, in your opinion, is the best thing about this company?
Apart from my answers to the last question, I like the opportunities that I have been given to advance personally. As the company has evolved, I have been given the chance to do jobs that are different than the job that I was originally employed to do – not many companies do that these days.
Q: What would you say is your proudest achievement at work?
Becoming Branch Manager of our Dorking branch. I never dreamt when I started in the yard at our Esher branch as a young lad that one day I would be the manager of another branch.
Q: What does this company mean to you?
Everything really! There is nothing worse than waking up and dreading the working day ahead – I enjoy coming to work. Every day has its challenges, but I enjoy that – it’s never boring!
We opened our doors to our Esher branch for the first time in February 1999 - 3 more branches, thousands of customers and tens of thousands of deliveries later we are celebrating our 20th anniversary.
We started trading online in 2009 - amongst the first roofing and building materials suppliers to do so - so 2019 is also the 10th anniversary of aboutroofing.com.
We will be featuring interviews with our three founding directors on this blog shortly - they still run the company, and their story of how they turned a dream into a successful business is remarkable.
We will also be featuring an interview with our first ever employee - who is still with us - and our first ever customer - who is also still with us - as well as interviews with customers and staff over this special anniversary year.
About Roofing Supplies is more than a 'just a company': To many of the staff and customers it is a family and a part of everyday life. We look forward to sharing some of the stories about who we are, how we got here and where we are going in the coming months!
About Roofing Supplies Dorking branch improvement works
About Roofing Supplies Dorking branch has been undergoing improvement works over the last few months, the latest of which was the laying of a new heavy duty tarmac surface at the front of the branch, which will make loading and unloading our customers and suppliers much easier!
We have also been increasing the range of stocks held at our Dorking branch recently - in particular we are carrying more roof tiles, roofing batten and building aggregates than ever!
Why not pop in and meet the friendly Dorking branch team soon! The branch is open between 7.30am and 5pm Monday to Friday, and 8am to 12pm on Saturdays.
Alternatively, you can call them on 01306 770490 or email them at Dorking@aboutroofing.co.uk
Chimney pots are made from clay, and are then fired in a kiln to make them resistant to the heat from the smoke and fumes that will travel through them when in use.
Replacing a chimney pot requires a tall ladder, and a head for heights - if you are in any doubt at all, the you would be wise to pay a roofing contractor to carry out the work for you.
Selecting the correct chimney pot
If there is an existing chimney pot you will need to measure the external dimensions at the top and the bottom of the chimney (as many styles of chimney pots taper inwards from the bottom up), and the height of the chimney pot, so that you can purchase a direct replacement, which will not only look right but will also be easier to fit as you will be replacing like-for-like.
If you are fitting a new chimney pot you need to take into account the ratio of the opening at the top of the fireplace to that of the top opening of the chimney pot, which needs to have a ratio in the range of 1:8 to 1:10 (the top of the chimney pot needs to be smaller than the opening at the top of the fireplace).
Also, you need to ensure that the internal dimensions of the base of the chimney pot that you are looking to purchase should always be equal to or greater than the external dimensions of the flue.
Replacing a broken chimney pot
If you are replacing an existing, damaged or broken chimney pot you will need to completely remove what is left of the existing pot, and any mortar holding it in place.
You will need to be very careful, as chimney pots can be surprisingly heavy - many older pots were manufactured from very substantial clay and subsequently can be disarmingly heavy.
It will be a tricky job to remove the chimnney and the mortar holding it in place (assuming that it is still fixed in position) and you will then need to carefully and safely get the broken pieces down to ground level.
Fitting a new chimney pot
Firstly, carefully lift the chimney pot up to the roof - the safest way to achieve this is by using a length of rope to haul it up.
Attempting to carry the chimney pot up the ladder is unwise and should not be attempted.
Once the new chimney pot is up on the roof it should be placed over the flue opening in the chimney stack, which will allow you to judge if the base will correctly fit.
If the base of the pot does not match the size of the opening, pieces of slate can be used to narrow the opening, which will provide a secure base for the chimney pot.
Using a 3 inch (75mm) layer of mortar (made from four - rather than three - parts of soft sand to one part of cement to reduce the risk of mortar failure) around the flue opening, bind the base of the chimney pot into the mortar, pressing firmly into place once you are happy with the position of the pot.
Dampening the area around the base of the pot, any slate used over the flue opening, and the stack stops the mortar from drying out too quickly and gives you longer to make adjustment to the positioning of the chimney pot.
Once the chimney pot has been correctly positioned you need to taper the mortar away from the base of the pot using a trowel, at an angle of approximately 45 degrees, to allow rain to run off - this is known as 'flaunching' the base.
You should then leave the pot, and not use the fire, for 24 hours to allow the mortar to set, and then it should be inspected to confirm that there are no cracks in the mortar or fissures that could allow water or bird ingress.
Maintenance of chimney pots
Chimney pots require very little maintenance other than an inspection every 5 years or so to check it for cracks and to ensure that the mortar is also in good condition and that the chimney is still held securely in place.
Where can I purchase chimney supply near me?
About Roofing Supplies stock a wide range of clay & metal chimney pots, cowls, chimney caps & chimney flues to prevent drafts and encourage airflow. For a chimney supply solution that is reliable and affordable, look no further.
All of our local stores are listed below but we do also deliver nationwide:
How long does it take Cromar Cromapol roof coating to dry?
Cromar Cromapol Acrylic Waterproof Roof Coating is a fibre reinforced liquid acrylic resin dispersed in solvent, and is designed to prevent the ingress of water.
Cromapol is suitable for general waterproofing and sealing of roofs, pitched surfaces & for sealing flashings, will waterproof instantly even in damp or wet conditions, and will not wash off while curing.
Following surface preparation, one coat only is required.
Cromapol should be applied in temperatures between 5 degrees c and 25 degrees c.
Drying time can be up to 1 week depending on the ambient temparature, and the thickness of the coating as applied.
It is worth noting that Cromapol may remain soft for a further period, but this is not detrimental to its waterproofing abilities.
Roof replacement varies according to a number of factors such as the age and condition of roofing materials used on the roof, the exposure of the roof to the weather and the construction of the roof.
When to replace a felt flat roof
Flat roofs were, until the 1990s, usually constructed from roofing felt - either torch on roofing felt, or pour and roll roofing felt (usually nailed down onto the roof).
The lifespan of roof felt varies widely depending on the grade and quality of flat roof felt used, and can be anything between 2 years and 20 years.
Often, felt flat roofs are laid with the emphasis on keeping costs down, so the most economical grades of felt are used which, as you would expect, have the shortest lifespan.
The premium grades of roofing felt, are supplied by specialist roofing materials suppliers such as About Roofing Supplies, and are usually laid by professional contractors.
Roofs constructed using the premium, professional grades of roofing felt will be built up using multiple layers and types of felt. These will typically be guaranteed by the manufacturer to be durable for 10 years to 20 years, with an expected lifespan of another 5 years to 10 years. Find out more about these products here.
The areas most prone to leaking on felt flat roofs are the joints, known as 'laps'. Water gets in through the joints over time - particuarly if rain pools into puddles on the roof and does not drain away, Once water has penetrated onto the boards below, these expand, trapping the moisture and as they do so the roofing felt pulls away from the roof boards which only makes water ingress more likely, eventually leading to failure.
Ideally a flat felt roof should be regularly inspected for leaks (at least annually) and these should be repaired as soon as they are identified.
Over time the roofing felt will deteriorate and will become more brittle and prone to cracking and leaks, due to the action of the sun, UV exposure and weather, and replacement of the felt, and the boarding underneath, will be unavoidable.
Typically, when felt flat roofs start leaking, this is an indication that they are reaching the end of their lives and replacement should start to be considered, as repairs should be viewed as a short term solution.
When to replace a GRP flat roof
GRP flat roofs - often known as fibreglass flat roofs - have enjoyed enormous popularity over the last 10 years to 15 years.
GRP roofs typically have a manufacturers guarantee of 20 years, and an expected lifespan of at least another 10 years.
Assuming that these roofs were laid correctly in the first place they are very resistant to leaks, however the initial laying of a GRP flat roof is more challenging than many installers anticipate and leaks are usually due to installation errors rather than the GRP roof reaching the end of its useful lifespan.
Assessing the cause of a leaking GRP flat roof can be quite challenging due to the seamless construction of a GRP roof, however where the leak has been identified, repair can be relatively straightforward. Find out more about these products here.
If repairs to small areas of a GRP roof do not resolve the leak, then consideration should be given to replacement of the entire roof, as it is likely that the root cause of the issue is installation error (use of boards that were not completely dry during installation for example), and the only solution will be replacement of the entire GRP roof.
Temporary repairs to flat roofs
We supply a range of products which can be painted onto flat roofs to extend their lifespan.
Products, such as Cromapol, are waterproof paints that are liberally painted onto areas where leaks are known or suspected, or the deteoration of the roof is visible, and are short terms solutions used to address leakage temporarily (for a few years only).
These products do not have a guarantee because they are dependant upon the condition of the existing roof, however typically they will extend the lifespan of a flat roof by up to 5 years. Find out more about these products here.
When to replace a pitched roof
Pitched roofs can be constructed from a wide variety of materials such as clay roof tiles, concrete roof tiles or roofing slates.
A leaking pitched roof can be caused by failure of the tiles or slates due to aging, leaks from flashings, or water ingress through the verges.
When to replace a clay tile roof
Modern clay roof tiles are typically supplied with a 30 year manufacturers guarantee, however in many instances clay roof tiles are in usable condition after 100 years, and we have seen examples of clay roof tiles that are in excess of 200 years old and still have many years life left in them!
Older (pre 1980s) clay tiles can be susceptible to frost damage, which leads to the tile cracking and leaking. This is because older roof tiles were rarely manufactured to the high standards that modern roof tiles are subject to. The rigourous UK and EU standards that we rely on in the 21st century are in place to ensure that modern roofing materials provide a log service life.
If your clay roof tiles are breaking up, this is a sure sign that the roof needs replacing, and often once a few tiles start cracking, examination of the rest of the roof reveals that many of the other tiles are cracking and need replacing promptly.
When to replace a concrete tile roof
Concrete roof tiles are cheaper than clay roof tiles, and were the primary roof tile of choice for rebuilding the roofs of Britain after the Second World War, right up until the 21st Century, when the benefits, and narrowing of the cost differential, lead to clay roof tiles becoming as popular as concrete tiles.
The cost saving made on concrete tiles is reflected by their much shorter service life than clay roof tiles. Whilst still being in good condition after 50 years is not uncommon, concrete roof tiles in serviceable condition after 60 years to 70 years are a rarity.
Concrete tiles are vulnerable to frost in the same way as clay roof tiles, but are also far more susceptible to erosion due to wind and rain which leads to thinning and cracking of the roof tile.
Concrete roof tiles are inherently brittle when new and become increasingly fragile with age, meaning that contractors fitting satellite dishes, solar panels or repairing chimneys often break them inadvertently, leading to leaks.
Usually the first indication that concrete roof tiles will need replacing soon is when they look very pale. This is because the surface coating has worn away leading to gradual delamination, usually due to the effects of the wind and weather.
When to replace a slate roof
Roofing slates, like clay roof tiles, have very long lives with many roof slates from leading manufacturers such as SSQ, currently being offered with guarantees between 75 years and 100 years.
Older slates - particuarly Welsh slates can often last in excess of 200 years, and are relatively unaffected by the weather - after all they have survived millions of years underground before being quarrieed and shaped into roofing slates!
However, when roof slates start to delaminate or crack - often as a result of frost damage - this should be seen as a clear sign to replace them.
Usually just replacing the cracked slates is just a temporary solution, as usually they all fail at a similar time, so cracking and delaminating should be seen as an indicator that the roof will need to be replaced.
Roofs often leak for reasons other than the clay roof tiles, concrete roof tiles, roofing slate or flat roof felt failing.
A common cause of leaks is from lead flashing around windows, bay windows and chimney pots, where it is chased into the brickwork and the chase is then filled with mortar.
Over a relatively short period of time, the thermal expansion of the lead leads to the mortar cracking and water gets into the joints. This is easily repaired using Flashpoint Lead Sealant - further details of which can be found here.
The brickwork that chimneys are constructed from is vulnerable to both damp and to leaks from the soakers and flashing around the edges. This is often treated with a masonry sealant to waterproof the brickwork - details of which can be found here.
A common cause of leaks on tiled and slate roof is from the verges: Until recently the verges on tile and slate roofs were filled with mortar which cracked over time leading to leaks - indeed this used to be the leading source of warranty claims on new properties submitted to the NHBC.
The Building Regulations were amended in 2018 with the addition of BS 8612: Dry Fixed Ridge, Hip And Verge Systems to require all new properties, and re-roofing and repairs of existing properties, to be constructed with plastic dry verges, which are mechanically fixed to the roof and will stay waterproof for the life of the roof. Further information on these products can be found here.
Where can I buy roof tiles near me?
Is your roof in need of replacing? About Roofing Supplies stock a large range of roofing materials including concrete and clay roof tiles. Our roof tiles are not only hard wearing and versatile but are offered at affordable prices.
Why not visit one of local branches below, or we also offer a nationwide delivery service:
As the countryside has been built on, and our national (and indeed global) landscape has become increasingly unrbanised, many species of wildlife have been displaced.
The most numerous of these are birds, and being amongst the most adaptable and intelligent of creatures they have found places to live and nest in the built enviroment - often in the stucture of houses, and usually in the roof area.
Some view the colonisation of their properties by birds as a positive thing, others see it as a nuisance and seek to prevent the birds living and / or nesting in the roofspace.
Broadly, birds enter the roof in one of two areas: the chimney or underneath the roof tiles in the eaves: There are easily installed, economical solutions to both situations!
Birdguards are supplied with a bracket that easily clips around the chimney pot, allowing the chimney to continue to be used, but preventing the entry of birds. These are available in either Terracotta or Buff finishes over a durable metal body and are weather resistant as well as bird resistant and will have no effect on the performance of the chimney - if it is in use.
Birdguards also act as chimney caps limiting the effects of wind and weather down the chimney. Easy to fit and inexpensive, these are an extremely popular solution to birds nesting in the chimney or entering properties down the chimney. For further details please click here.
If the chimney is not in use, a discreet and popular alternative to Birdguards are Chimney Caps.
These allow the chimney to 'breathe' (preventing the build up of damp, whilst keeping rain, drafts and birds out.
These are the most cost effective solution, and either clip inside the chimney pot, using the integral four flexible wire legs pre-fitted to the cap, or clip around the chimney pot using the supplied bracket.
Chimney caps are so quick to fit that roofers often joke - quite correctly! - that it takes longer to pitch the ladder and climb it, than it does to fit the actual Chimney Cap! For further details please click here.
Small birds in particular, such as House Sparrows and Starlings, often enter the roofspace through gaps between the roof tiles and the bargeboard or fascia.
Double Roman and similar profiled 'wavy' tiles are particuarly prone to this. The solution is to fit Comb Fillier which is easily fitted by removing the eaves course of the roof tiles and then nailing the comb filler along the top of the bargeboard, before re-laying the tiles. Easily fitted, these 1 metre strips are simply nailed into place. Further details can be viewed here.
As a relatively new addition to the team, Morgan joined About Roofing last June just after completing his A-levels. Morgan, who is currently working within the sales team, will be eventually taken on formally as a member of the Redhill Sales Team.
Our most recent addition to the About Roofing team is 16-year-old Ewan who joined us last June. In a few short months, Ewan has become a very knowledgeable and reliable employee who goes out of his way to provide the best customer-focused service. As a hard worker, Ewan works with us part-time alongside his studies as a joiner in college.
We are the leading independent roofing materials supplier in the South East. We pride ourselves on our customer service, experienced staff & large stocks, providing a personal, "small company" approach with the professionalism that one expects of a large company. Please call or visit our branches to view our wide range of roofing supplies.