Why are counter battens used in pitched roofs?


Have you ever wondered why you’ve needed to have counter battens in your roof build up, or questioned whether they are worth the extra cost? Well they’re more important than you might think. Let us talk you through it.

As you already know, in a pitched roof your insulation is placed under the roofing tiles. If water goes through it –  well it’s not much use to you anymore. This is where counter battens come in very handy.

Counter battens are wooden strips that are installed vertically over pitched roofs to which horizontal tiling battens are attached. They are used to allow rainwater to pass off the tiles and away from your roof.

Let’s go into a bit more detail.

Roof tiles are usually laid horizontally, attached to timber tiling battens.. Underneath these battens, you will find your counter battens, running vertically, and, beneath these, a breather membrane.

If your tiles are laid without counter battens, rainwater could pass between the tiles and get stuck behind the tiling batten, building up a pool of water over time. As you can imagine this is not what you want as it can then damage the structure of your roof – as well as the insulation that’s keeping your house all cosy and warm!

So you can understand the importance of counter battens, which create a clear path for rainwater to run and eliminate the chance of water pooling, or seeping down into your roof.

Pretty important, right?

However, it isn’t always an issue if you don’t have counter battens – in certain circumstances you can survive perfectly fine without them!

So why wouldn’t you have counter battens?

No counter battens - pitched roof - example

Example of why you might not use counter battens, taken from the nilvent product literature.

Firstly, you might not need them because of the way your roof structure is built. If the layer of breathable membrane is draped across your roof pitch in such a way that it creates gaps between each rafter,it enables water to run out beneath the tiling battens – meaning that there is no need for counter battens.

Secondly – and this is a bit more technical, but still pretty simple to follow – you won’t need to fit counter battens if you have a timber sarking board with 2 – 3 mm gaps and a breathable membrane with natural slates above. The different shapes and sizes of the slates make it highly unlikely for water to get stuck, meaning there isn’t need for battens.

Still want to learn more? Take a look at the Kooltherm K7 Pitched Roof Board and nilvent product literature.

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Kingspan Insulation is a market leading manufacturer of optimum, premium and high performance rigid insulation products and insulated systems for building fabric and building services applications.

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