Human settlements have come a long way from the straw and wood roofs to modern materials like metal, clay, wood and concrete. Design and quality of roofing materials around the world are determined by economic conditions of the buyer and locally available materials. Every house-owner desires a strong building with a roof that is able to withstand climatic changes and requires little maintenance and professional roofers can advise the best roofing material suited to their need and budget. Though all roofing materials are relatively strong they have to be examined every decade for weather related damage and depending on the situation have to be either replaced or repaired. Roofing materials are available in the form of tiles, shingles, metal sheets and plain cement.
The rustic charm of clay tiles is unmistakable and it has been used since 10,000 BC due to its durability and ability to withstand climatic changes for several years. Though designers traditionally use clay tiles to restore old buildings it is frequently used in rural and suburban homes too, as it can last around fifty years or more. Early clay tiles were made by hand, but the growing demand led to efficient manufacturing techniques and lighter tiles with better quality were produced. There are two basic types of clay tiles called pan-tiles and flat tiles which are laid on the roof in an interlocking manner or overlapping manner to increase their ability to withstand rain and snow without leaking.
Wooden tiles used on roofs are called as singles or shakes and are so named due to the way they are cut out from blocks of wood. Wood shingles can provide better protection than clay tiles and also enhance the building’s appearance. All wood shingles are made from free pieces of wood and were a common roofing material before metal roofs came into being. These are more suited to areas where strong winds damage clay tiles though they are prone to rotting and warping. Most wood shingles are made from durable wood like redwood, cedar and cypress that are given treatment through preservative chemicals. Wooden shingles have to be cleaned on a regular basis as it provides fertile ground for growth of moss and grass. To make the roof appear more attractive one can also have decorative wood shingles with metal decorations and carvings.
Made from a wide variety of materials like zinc, copper and lead during 1700’s these materials went out of application when other more romantic and durable materials came into existence. Metal shingles are now back in demand and are made of aluminum and coated steel as both modular panels and tiles. These tiles are back in vogue as they are fire retardant, energy efficient and require little maintenance. As these shingles are made from recyclable materials they can be reused again and will not make their way to landfills.
This is another traditional tile that has been used for roofs since several hundred years as these last for a minimum period of 50 years or sometimes more if they are laid out by a professional slater. A regular checkup is mandatory after seasonal changes like monsoon and winter to avoid roof leaks and damage. Slate tiles are more expensive than clay or wood and from a distance appear like slivers of rock and can be difficult to clean.
The slate tiles in this picture enhance the natural beauty of this country style home in natural grey and are neatly laid alongside gutters to clear off rain water and melting snow. Custom made to meet specific requirements the slate tiles on this roof are all of similar size and thickness.
Cement roof tiles are now being preferred over clay and wooden tiles as these are durable, heavy and also fire resistant. These can be used in both moderate and steep slopes and require a reinforced frame to support the tiles. Cement tiles and panels are manufactured from several varieties of cement are fiber-reinforced with materials like plastics, enamels and thin materials. The designs of cement tiles sometimes mimic regular wooden tiles. In this beautiful villa built in modern style the cement tiles are laid out to complement the angular roof design. Cement tiles for minimum 40-50 years though they can lose color and surface texture over the early couple of decades. These tiles are best suited for high temperature areas as in cold regions they can absorb moisture from snow and reduce temperature levels in the house but will keep away heat.
Initial installation has to be done carefully as this type of roofing material is the most complicated of them all, but has excellent weather proof qualities. Bitumen felt shingles are available in decorative fringe type designs. Today there are varied colours available that are also treated with special technology to make them energy efficient. Manufacturers usually guarantee a lifespan of 15-20 years for their tiles based on climate and environmental factors and these are able to handle cold conditions better than hot temperatures. The pitch of the roof also affects the life of bitumen shingles as steep slopes do not allow accumulation of water or ice making them more durable. Want to browse through some more designs of roof tiles then have a look at this ideabook.