What Are The Different Types Of Roofing? Skip to content

What Are The Different Types Of Roofing?

What Are The Different Types Of Roofing?

So many building elements need to be considered when planning a new project – especially a new build home. If you’re still in the process of planning your roof, you’re likely faced with an overwhelming number of options. But let us simplify things for you. Let’s look at roofing types.

What is roof pitch?

To begin with, we should briefly look at what roof pitch is.

There are two main things that are usually meant by “roof pitch” – it’s either describing a type of roof (that is, a “pitched roof”) or the angle that the roof is “pitched” at. Until quite recently, whenever you’d go camping you would have to pitch a tent, which meant hanging the canvas tent over a central, horizontal pole to create a covered area.

A pitched roof is the same – the typical UK home will almost always have a pitched roof, pitched in the centre. This type of roof is known as a “gable” roof.

Now, the pitch of the roof – how steeply it’s angled over that central ridge – was historically determined by how much rainfall or snow was expected in the region coupled with how sturdy the building materials were. You’ll often see British cottages, hundreds of years old, with surprisingly high roofs. This increased pitch was developed to avoid any sitting water and settling snow – simply because the tiles or other materials at the time wouldn’t be able to support the weight of snow! Its why flat roofs are a relatively recent thing in the UK but have been a common feature of middle-eastern architecture for centuries.

As technology has progressed, we’ve been able to cut down on material costs with different types of roof structure to meet different budgets and requirements. But the structure is one thing, what you put on top of the roof is another. Read on to find out what you can cover your roof with.

1. Tiles - Tiles are likely the most common type of roofing material you’ll see around the UK. They’re easy to repair (because you only need to replace a single tile if one breaks) and they can come in a huge variety of styles – each with different pros & cons. Some common types of tiles are:

Slate Shingles - Remarkably tough and often quite attractive, shingles are tiles cut from a single piece of stone. When undisturbed, they can last upwards of 150 years! But they can be expensive to install and on the costlier side to repair.

Rubber Shingles - With all the same benefits as slate shingles, rubber shingles have the added benefit of being resistant to cracks and much easier to install or replace.

Concrete or Clay Tiles - The other most common tile type is concrete or clay – these are often the same to install as shingles but can be manufactured to different shapes so that they can be easily lapped or in order to withstand weather conditions. They’re also much easier to repair than shingles – where you must entirely replace a cracked shingle, you can often re-glue a cracked clay tile.

Solar Tiles - Quite a new development, and with many still in development, solar tiles have photovoltaic panels built into the tiles. As you lay the tiles on the roof, they also link up electrically so that you have essentially a roof that looks like a normal roof but the added benefit of being able to generate electricity at home.

2. Thatch - Thatch is a very niche roofing material these days, almost exclusively reserved for listed buildings that were originally thatched. It looks very attractive but is often a great home for birds and insects – which is perfect if that’s what you’re going for but can be quite a nuisance if you’re not terribly fond of critters.

3. Rubber, Liquid & Fibreglass - These roofs tend to be favoured for flat roof construction. Rubber roofs tend to be large, single sheets of rubber cut to size, whereas liquid & fibreglass roofs tend to be applied as liquids over the roof and set into a single membrane. Because these types of roofing can be made without any seams, they’re often really resistant to leaks and are usually rated for upwards of 25 years.

4. Felt Roof - Another common type on flat roofs, but also common on smaller pitched roofs for things like sheds and outhouses, is a felt roofing system. The material used is a combination of bitumen sheet hardened over a felt skeleton, often with bitumen ‘gravel’ stuck to the top of it. These are then torched to a surface and each other using a gas torch. Depending on the size of roof, these can often be installed within a few days – so are also affordable.

5. Green Roof - A sort of newcomer to roofing, green roofs are essentially sealed planters filled with soil and seeded with grasses, wildflowers, or other lightweight greenery. They’re attractive, naturally well-insulating, and great for the environment! That said, because they’re still a niche, they can also be costly to install and require enough structural stability to hold the large weight.

6. Metal - We’ve saved the best until last! Metal roofs are some of the sturdiest, longest-lasting roofs available. They’re not so often used on domestic builds because they can be noisy in the rain, but they’re perfect for functional and/or large buildings like warehouses, outhouses, factories, or workshops. The great thing about sheet roofing is that it can be ordered to size, cut at a supplier’s workshop, and installed really quickly.

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