When buying a new home, few if any of us base our purchasing decision on the roof materials, yet the roof plays a vital role both keeping us dry, warm and impacting our homes appearance.
Ancient Roof Materials
One of the oldest materials, dating back thousands of years. The UK has more thatch roofs than the rest of Europe and is enjoying something of a revival. Ironically, now something for more affluent homes, for centuries it was for the poorest. Thatch provides good insulation, and dependent on the material, can last up to fifty years. It looks splendid when well maintained and suits and roof shape. Fire is a concern and thatched roofed homes incur higher insurance premiums, but steps can be taken to reduce the risks. Thatched roof have been banned in London since before the Great Fire in 1666.
Another ancient roof material, wherever there was suitable clay, tile roofs can be found. Aesthetically pleasing, the availability on numerous shapes and designs ensure their ongoing popularity. Providing they are good quality, they will last for centuries standing up to our harshest winters. By using shaped tiles, like thatch they are suitable for most roof shapes.
Thin sheets of stone are used like slate in areas such as Yorkshire where it is more widely available. Working with stone is expensive and due to it’s weight, a substantial structure is needed. It is rarely now seen on new properties, a pity as it can look spectacular.
Other than for flashings, lead is rarely found on domestic homes. On the large flat roofs of commercial buildings, stately homes and churches, it was the material of choice.
More Modern Options
The building of railways into north Wales in the Victorian era, changed Britain’s rooflines. Slate from Wales not only covered most of our buildings from then and up to the early twentieth century but many abroad as well. Slate is long lasting, impervious to water and attractive, it’s downside is that it doesn’t navigate curves. If you don’t like welsh grey, green tinted slates come from Cumbria and naturally patterned oranges, greys and brown from Cornwall.
Probably now the most common on domestic homes, concrete is functional and cheap. They are available in a wide range of designs, some emulating (or trying to) clay tiles and slates. Cheaper tiles can suffer in the weather.