Roofing Materials: Right Roof for the Right Building

Constructing a building, whether a new home or an office complex, can be performed to the highest standard by creating a structure that’s both aesthetically pleasing and highly practical however if it does not use the right roofing material / design, the integrity of the rest of the building becomes compromised.

If the materials used are incorrect, your premises and its inhabitants could be at risk from the elements and even roof collapse, requiring vital emergency repair work, so understanding the advantages and disadvantages of both of these is crucial.

Metal Roofs

Areas where moisture and precipitation occur may benefit from a metal roof. Copper, steel or aluminium structures have the advantage of being highly wind, sun and rain resistant, which offers a lifespan of around 50 years. However, metal roofs can be more expensive than other roof types, and copper or lead structures may be targeted by thieves.

Clay or Concrete

Usually found in warmer climates, clay or concrete roofs require a structurally reinforced building due to their weight. Similar to metal designs, clay and concrete roofs are highly weather resistant and are effective at keeping buildings cool in warmer temperatures. Although historically clay has been limited to a narrow colour range, this is now beginning to change, and its’ durable constitution also gives it a lifespan of over 50 years.


Shingles are a specific material and more a construction style, using overlapping elements, such as roofing tiles made from; wood, slate, ceramic, fibreglass, asphalt and asbestos cement. Although an attractive and cost-effective option, shingles require regular maintenance to combat moss build-up, and need sufficient ventilation due to the overlapping design.


In many cases, slate will be the most expensive roofing option available, which is why its use is often limited to civic buildings, churches and luxury houses. The material is naturally resistant to mould and rust, and on average will last over 100 years. Slate is often used as a tile material for shingle roofs, due to its extremely low water absorption and aesthetic properties.

These are just a few of the common roofing materials for most domestic and commercial buildings, but there are others available that serve alternative purposes. For example, special ‘living roofs’ exist that consist of a thin layer of soil, allowing small rooting plants to form a natural covering that both insulates and improves the air quality in the surrounding area.

Other Types

Some UK sports stadiums have invested in retractable roofs to ensure that events are not affected by the unpredictable British weather, and great consideration has gone into their design and application. One famous example, at Wimbledon’s prestigious Centre Court, uses a highly advanced fabric called PolyTetraFlouroEthylene (PTFE), regarded as the strongest known polymer, which allows the structure to remain light yet highly durable.

It may not be that your roof will require the use of PolyTetraFlouroEthylene (PTFE), or that you are in a position to accommodate a living roof, but including an experienced and skilled roofer on your construction project to advise you on material and design is of the upmost importance. Consider the future and make sure you choose the right roof for your building.


Posted on 04 April 2013 in Roofing.

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