We all know British weather - unpredictable, wet and windy. The amount of water that pours out of our skies is the reason behind the pitched apex roof, which allows rainwater to run off effortlessly, keeping the occupants and contents of the building dry. Since then, apex or duo pitched roofs have become a prominent feature of the UK built environment.
Using clay, slate or concrete gives a roof a longer life expectancy. These materials also ensure that the roof is fireproof and great at handling any temperature the weather throws at it. If you ask yourself the basics of what we all expect from a roof, it would be to keep occupants warm and dry, keep the weather out and the heat in.
But the truth is that modern roofs have to do so much more. They need to be able to breathe to prevent condensation build up. They need to handle weather extremes, expand in the heat, and contract in the cold - all without letting in water or breaking.
How do we stay dry?
A traditional gable-to-gable roof has no inner details, but the minute you put on an extension or have an L shaped roof then you need to consider waterproofing the angles, the hip or the valley. Here we use GRP or lead. Lead is the traditional flashing and waterproofing solution and remains an ideal solution, but it has a high cash value and is often targeted by thieves, so consider your options dependant on access to the roof. Modern alternatives like Koraflex plus offer the same look and handling experience as lead, at a fraction of the cost and without the high risk of theft.
Leaky chimneys are one of the most common callouts for roofers, so you should definitely consider flashing the intersection between the chimney and the roof to make sure it stays watertight. Usually, flashing around a chimney has two layers - an initial round of flashing, where metal sheets are interwoven into the shingle courses and built up around the chimney - and then a second layer, which is fixed to the roof to cover and protect the initial flashing.
The finishing touches
Roofing is about so much more than tiles, and we’re not just talking about how durable or waterproof a roof should be. From an aesthetic perspective, today there’s so much choice when it comes to extra detail. Feature tiles or finials - a touch of class from the past - can create a distinctive quality finish for both modern and contemporary roofs.
At Wienerberger, we’re able to create an infinite range of handcrafted bespoke clay roofing features. For period listed buildings this heritage service is essential, but we often see it used on contemporary projects too. A great, considered aesthetic finish to your roof is all but guaranteed to increase the value of your home.
Living in a material world
Today, roof tiles alone can be very creative and versatile. Through a wide selection of profiles and colours, across a portfolio of materials from clay, slate to concrete, our roofing brand Sandtoft offers tiles in a variety of shapes, sizes, colours and finishes, adding character to virtually any home.
The most recent addition to the Wienerberger portfolio is Keymer, a brand that has been synonymous with quality, handmade, clay roof tiles for over 400 years. Keymer’s rich heritage and global reputation continues to thrive at its new home in Ewhurst, where the same approach, materials and methods are still used to this day.
Concrete has become the main product driving the UK pitched roofing market, with designs coming in all shapes and sizes. Clay roof tiles, like the Keymer Shire and Goxhill ranges, are more of a premium roofing option, offering greater longevity and a colour that lasts for life. As a homeowner it comes down to what you want, but for a truly stand out roof that remains as striking as the day it was fitted, choose clay.
Tips for looking after your roof
1. Ensure your roof is insulated and allows for ventilation.
Proper insulation and ventilation will add years to the lifespan of your home’s roof and save money by delaying replacement costs and preventing condensation issues.
2. Never power-wash your roof.
Definitely don’t hire someone else to do it! It destroys the core fabric and forces water into the roof space, and worse than that, it can wash out the colour if it's concrete.
3. Fix your underlay correctly.
A common issue is that many underlays are either fixed too tightly or left to drape like curtains, follow the manufacturers instructions.
4. Fix your tiles correctly.
Mortar is NOT an effective fixing system, make sure your ridge tiles and verge tiles (those at the edge) are clipped or mechanically fixed.
5. Consider solar panels.
Your roof can do more than just keep you dry. Solar panels are good for the environment and could significantly reduce your energy bill. Speak to us for more information.
First appeared in Homebuilding and Renovating Magazine.