When comparing different types of ditch lining materials, it’s easy to get confused by the various measures of quality. If you’re not sure which features are most important or how to fairly compare them, you might think that thickness or weight is the measure of a quality liner. It’s often the opposite case, depending on the materials you’re comparing. A thinner RPE liner often offers much greater durability, longevity, and chemical resistance than a thick PVC or EPDM liner. Discover which features compare to each other across different materials to make the right choice for lining your ditches.
Thickness vs Strength
Don’t compare liners by thickness alone. Flexible liners are measured in mils, which refers to how many thousandths of an inch something measures. You’ll often see liners available in measurements ranging anywhere from 10 to 100 mils; depending on the material and intended purpose. Thicker isn’t always better, because thick materials are less flexible and harder to fit in narrow ditches. You also lose valuable space for carrying a higher water volume. RPE liners are thinner than other materials while offering superior strength, the true feature you must compare between materials. A material with a high tear and crack resistance is always a better choice, regardless of the thickness of the liner.
Thicker liners are also heavier, leading to extra shipping costs and transport fees to bring the materials to the work site. You’ll find your labor costs increasing on ditch lining projects involving heavy liner materials as well. Workers move slower and take longer to accomplish the same tasks when working with a heavy and/or thick material. Stick to a lighter, easier to unfold material like RPE to simplify installation. Lower weight liners must have a high tear and crack resistance to compensate for the reduction in total amount of material.
Highly flexible liners work best for narrow and small channels like ditches, especially in existing structures that are likely uneven and in need of a custom fit. The material must be accommodating enough to mold over small curves and bumps in the soil for a tight fit against the ground. If the liner is too stiff to do this, water will get between the two layers and lift the liner. RPE is highly flexible and will conform to any curve or corner for a snug fit in any ditch.
Avoid liners without specific warranty periods and guarantees of performance. Manufacturers should regularly test their products to verify how long you can expect a liner to perform in certain conditions. Replacing a liner at 5 years is a major cost difference from replacing it at 10 or even 20 years. Spending up to twice as much on a higher quality RPE liner can pay off if it stretches out the replacement period thanks to higher durability.
Still not sure which liner features are most important for your project? Ask one of the BTL Liners experts to get answers to all of your questions about ditch lining.