Whether it’s for small domestic builds like conservatories or massive commercial spaces, there are now many roofing solutions available offering advantages over old-style slates and tiles.
Runs of light steel have come a long way since the corrugated iron sheets of old. They resist corrosion and offer more attractive finishes. In addition, they are profiled to slot together efficiently to prevent weather penetration.
Shingles are now made from a variety of new materials. There are wooden or bituminous shingles, fibre cement tiles, and several types of synthetics and composites. They can be chosen to resemble traditional tiles and have good durability and colourfastness, although this is something that should be researched carefully.
Tensile structures are somewhat tent-like, supporting a stretched membrane. However, most modern membranes bear little resemblance to tent canvas. They are perfectly rigid once erected, have a wide range of colours and finishes or translucency, and different layers of the fabric can provide heat and sound insulation. They are easily pitched high to enclose plenty of airy space at little or no extra cost. You can see design examples on sites like http://fabricarchitecture.com/.
A roof must be strong enough to take a load of snow and withstand high winds. Coupled with proper design and construction, all of these materials can meet these requirements.
The main thrust of building regulations is to prevent roofs that are too heavy for the structure beneath or that prevent space beneath from being adequately lit or insulated. Tensile membranes generally meet these technical requirements with more ease than traditional and modern alternatives because they are the lightest in weight and most versatile for optimising illumination. Modern membranes can be good insulators, too. Current guidelines for roof construction can be found online.
Some lightweight roofs, especially tensile ones, can be manufactured offsite and then delivered for fast, easy modular installation, saving time, labour and money.
Lighter materials are generally cheaper. Their easier installation means you can often continue occupying and using the building while work is in progress.
Lighter roofs can mean lighter and cheaper supporting walls and foundations beneath. This is doubly true with tensile structures because in some designs, they also replace walls.
Green incentives may be available. Light materials are often made from renewable or recycled resources and sometimes attract incentives such as subsidies or tax relief.