Once you’ve settled on a flexible liner for your ditch project, you’re still left with plenty of choices to sort through before placing an order. If you don’t spend some time comparing your options, it’s all too easy to choose the wrong material and get sub-par results from your installation. Take your time when comparing materials like PVC vs. RPE and other high-quality multi-layered liners. You’ll soon know exactly which flexible liner is the best for your ditches, by understanding whether they’re designed to handle irrigation water or mining waste runoff.
The Benefits of Reinforced Polyethylene
Reinforced polyethylene, also called RPE, is the best flexible liner material for ditch use. It’s also your best bet for lining any holding ponds or drainage basins that connect with the ditches and channels. Multi-layered RPE combines the best features of both high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and low-density polyethylene (LDPE) for a tough and flexible material that resists damage. The reinforced design, with a layer of woven material, boasts high level tear resistance without being too heavy or thick. Since it’s possible to use a thinner liner when you stick with multi-layered RPE, you’ll save money on transport and installation costs due to the lower weight and reduced labor. RPE is also highly chemical resistant and can even be installed without any ballast cover thanks to its UV resistance.
Why PVC Isn’t a Good Idea
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is a well-known material commonly used for most residential plumbing applications. While some formulations are drinking water safe, other mixtures used for rolling out sheets of flexible liner tend to contain plasticizers that leach out into the water. Irrigation or storm water running through a PVC lined ditch could end up more contaminated than it was before. This material is less flexible than RPE, making it hard to get a good fit in a smaller or narrower ditch. Finally, it’s also highly prone to freezing and UV damage, leading to cracks and leaks after just a few years of use.
Issues with HDPE and LDPE Liners
Both high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and low-density polyethylene (LDPE) are used in multi-layered RPE liners. It’s easy to assume this means that either material will make a good choice alone as well. However, both types of standard polyethylene feature drawbacks that make them less than ideal on their own. LDPE doesn’t offer the best chemical resistance and HDPE is often too stiff to fit well in tight spaces like drainage ditches. By combining the two in multiple layers, especially with a reinforcement layer, you get the RPE liner that is highly flexible and durable at the same time.
The Incompatibility of EPDM and Ditch Lining
You can also find ethylene propylene diene terpolymer (EPDM) sold as a rubber roof lining material. It’s also been adapted to many pond lining applications, but it’s usually not recommended for this kind of installation by the manufacturers of the material. This material must stay thick and heavy to resist tearing and cracking, making it hard to bend to fit in narrow ditches. It’s also likely to curl over and collapse when used in a channel with straight and vertical sides. Between its thickness, stiffness, and lack of chemical and UV resistance, EPDM isn’t a good fit for any of the common ditch lining uses.
Replacing Other Liner Materials
If you already have one of the three less compatible liner materials installed in your ditches, it’s likely worth the effort to remove the existing liners and replace them. Even if the PVC or LDPE liners are work relatively well for now, they’ll eventually fail and allow water to escape from the ditches. Ditch lining collapses leave hundreds or even thousands of gallons of water escaping into the surrounding soil. If the ditches run near any homes or businesses, the property damage can add up quickly. Compare the costs of repairing damaged structures to the expenses of installing higher quality RPE liners in all your drainage ditches.
There’s no need to shop around to find the right RPE liner for ditch projects. BTL Liners has plenty of products designed to meet your specific needs for any narrow water channel. Whether you want a medium or heavy duty RPE liner product, we have something for you here at BTL. Reach out for custom advice on your ditch lining projects.