Watertight Box: Q&A with Fibo and On The Level

In partnership with wet room manufacturer On The Level, Fibo recently carried out an exciting experiment, putting its range of wall panels and On The Level’s shower formers to the ultimate waterproof test. Fibo and On The Level created a model box designed to simulate a wet room environment, filled it with water and then left it alone for 60 days. (If you haven’t seen the video yet, click here to watch and be prepared to be impressed!)

Following the great reaction to the video so far, we decided to catch up with Scott Beattie, Managing Director at Fibo, and Chris Sutton, Sales Director at On the Level, to go behind the scenes and learn more about the reasoning behind the experiment. 

Q) How did the test come about?

Chris Sutton: “It probably all started when both Scott and I met at Modular Matters, in October 2019, where we were exhibiting. It was there that we discovered the very clear synergy between our products and the conversations between myself and Scott began.

With our shower formers and Fibo’s wall panels being manufactured from birch plywood, we each regularly encounter the same challenges and misconceptions within the market – primarily around wood being seen as unsuitable for wet environments, such as a wet room or bathroom. There was clearly a need to address this and the experiment was a great way of proving people’s misconceptions wrong.”

Scott Beattie: “Chris is exactly right. We can always tell our customers that our products are waterproof but we wanted to demonstrate it in a visual way – much more effective to show it, than to say it. Hence, we came up with the idea of creating this experiment.”

Q) Why did Fibo and On The Level decide to conduct this test together?

Scott: “In many ways, it really was the perfect partnership. Both Fibo and On The Level have a similar customer base with the same misconceptions, so we really both had a shared objective in this.

“Also, as a wall panel supplier, something we get asked regularly by our customers is suitable wet room flooring, and I know On The Level encounter the same thing with their customers regarding wall coverings. So, as well as helping to prove our waterproof claims, in many ways the experiment was also about enabling us to provide our customers with an easy and reliable one-stop solution. Having the two businesses coming together just seemed like a really great opportunity, for both of us.”

Chris: “Like Scott says, it just seemed like a really obvious collaboration for both On The Level and Fibo to work together on this. Submergence testing isn’t anything particularly new for us at On The Level. This, along with water flow tests are standard practices for us. But the watertight box experiment was a really exciting way to push this even further.

“A common question we both get asked is regarding the join between the wall and the floor – how do you prevent this from leaking? In the architectural world, whenever you have two interfacing products coming together, there’s always a vulnerable area. With wet rooms, the interface between the floor and the wall is a common area of concern. It’s a grey area, with no one wanting to take ownership of it. By doing this experiment, we’re really combining the two and taking this problematic interface head-on.”

Q) How was the watertight box created?

Scott: “We used the exact same method installers would use in real life – same materials, same sealant, same adhesive and same profiles. After all, it would be pointless to have installed the products in a different way to that which it would be done on site – the experiment wouldn’t prove anything.”

Chris: “Exactly, nothing was changed. The only thing different to the norm was of course the size. While the watertight box wasn’t small by any means, it was of course far smaller than your typical wet room – however, the same principles still applied.”

Q) How much water did you fill the box with and why did you decide to leave it for 60 days?

Chris: “We filled the box with 100 litres of de-ionised water. De-ionised water was chosen to prevent it from going stagnant, especially considering it was being left for such a long period of time. 100 litres is an extremely large volume of water, but then it was intended to be an extreme test. The weight of the water and the pressure it would have placed on our products, the floor gully and the joints would have been immense.

Scott: “As for the length of time, 60 days seemed to be a good amount – two months. I’m confident that we could have left it even longer and still achieved the same result but you have to stop the test at some point.”

Q) What were the results?

Scott: “So, 60 days later and there was absolutely no leakage, no water ingress and no water staining.

“I’ve always been hugely confident in our products and in the installation process. For me, the only unknown factor in this was the effect that the immense pressure and weight (remember, 100 litres of water) would have.”

Chris: “Like Scott says, we were both always 100% confident in our products, which translated into a successful test outcome. So, I wasn’t surprised by the results.”

Q) What does the experiment prove and what do you want your customers to come away thinking, after watching the video?

Chris: “For me, it’s about the whole perception within the market that wet rooms leak. Hopefully by doing the experiment, we’ve not only addressed this but also challenged and changed it.

“If we had talked to the general public at the start of this process and said that we were putting 100 litres of water into a box made out of wooden products, they’d have probably said it was going to fail. The video should provide our customers with 100% confidence in our products, our waterproof claims and our lifetime guarantee on shower formers and 10-year tanking system guarantee.”

Scott: “At Fibo, we also talk a lot about our wall panel systems being 100% waterproof and recently increased our product warranty from 15 to 25 years . However, while we have a lot of words and testimonials, we’ve never had a visual way to demonstrate them. Now, when someone sees the video and sees the proof, it’s a really great and quick way of visually affirming the performance of our products.”

Q) Will there be any more experiments that we should look out for in the future?

Scott: “Never say never! We certainly have a few ideas of what we could do for future tests, both individually and jointly. In my mind, the more we can work together to offer our customers a one-stop solution, the better.”

Chris: “Let’s just say, watch this space…”