The questions you should ask your lintel supplier will very much depend upon your own place in the market. For example, if you are a builders merchant, then the questions you ask are likely to focus on quality, delivery, and price. If you are a specifier, however, you may want to ask more about the technical properties of the lintel, and indeed specifying it.
Whatever your role in the supply chain, these seven questions are a must ask when dealing with your lintel supplier. Many suppliers provide similar products with similar properties, but if any supplier is unable or unwilling to answer any of these questions then that is a major red flag, and you should probably rethink using them.
Can steel and concrete be used together?
Yes, they can. In fact, the use of steel and concrete can provide exceptional thermal efficiencies because of the natural break between the two materials. Whilst thermal break lintels are available, using steel and concrete together can often be a more cost-effective solution.
Why would I choose concrete over steel?
Whilst steel is generally the preferred option when it comes to modern lintels, there are very good reasons to choose concrete over steel. First and foremost, concrete lintels are generally considerably less expensive, so when the price is the only differentiator there is no reason not to opt for concrete. Steel lintels are manufactured for use within the wall material, so they are hidden, but concrete lintels can be manufactured with a ‘fair-faced’ option, so it can be used in a visible area.
Have a look at our blog post on choosing concrete over steel for more information.
How have you calculated the load span values?
All lintel manufacturers are subject to strict EU law to ensure their products are suitable for the UK market (see below). However, all good manufacturers will run continuous product testing to ensure their products and their relevant load spans are current and up to date.
The specific calculations of the load spans are difficult to sum up, but you can refer to our blog post on understanding load span tables here.
What process should we go through to select the correct lintel?
As a merchant, you will obviously know what types of lintels sell best, but manufacturers can advise on their best selling and most popular products. Some concrete lintels are ‘universal’ and can be used in different orientations, which obviously increases their use.
As a builder or specifier, manufacturers would be geared up to provide you with technical support and help when selecting the correct lintel and specifying the correct lintel to avoid over and under-specification. Please refer to our blog post on selecting the correct lintel for further information.
My architect has specified a lintel. Can I check it with you?
You certainly can with us, and most reputable lintel suppliers or manufacturers will provide technical assistance where needed. Our own technical department can do the specification process for you, and make sure that absolutely have the correct lintel.
What assurances do I have that your lintels are of a quality suitable for the UK market? And can you prove it?
Lintel manufacturers fall into the category of providing building materials, and therefore are subject to stringent EU law. The constructions product regulation (CPR) means that lintels have to be tested and verified by a third party independent testing house. In order to be sold in the UK market, they must be CE marked, and manufacturers must be able to provide declarations of performance (DoP) for each product. Failure to do so would revoke access to the market. More information on lintel quality can be found here.
Our own declarations of performance are available on request.
Are your lintels environmentally sound, and are they subject to any environmental regulations?
Whilst there are no environmental regulations for manufacturers to comply to, there is an ethical obligation to ensure that environmental policies are as robust as possible. This could mean looking at the manufacturing processes in place or the companies delivery and haulage policy. Our own fleet of vehicles is managed in a way to maximise loads, reduce journeys, and thus reduce the impact on the environment. Our wide-ranging product portfolio also helps with this.