When constructing, the roof is king

Gable  is the commonest style. The design involves two sides of a roof coming together at the peak to form a ridge.  PHOTOs/Ismail Kezaala.

What you need to know:

The style one settles for relies on a variety of factors. First, the climate and weather of the location of your home should be considered.  Second, the interior of your home should have adequate ventilation and insulation to maintain the roof’s structure from the inside out. Third, ensure that the professionals installing the roof are thorough and well-established in their craft.

The roof of a home is integral to its function. It acts as a buffer for changes in the atmosphere and shelters your family and belongings from external elements. Today, roofs serve more than this particular function, as they are testament to the overall beauty of the home and the homeowner’s personal style. As times evolve, so do roofing styles.

From the thatched roofing materials that defined our past, today’s home owners have a variety of options when building their houses to suit each individual style and function. The style one settles on relies on a variety of factors. First, the climate and weather of the location of your home should be considered. If it is prone to harsh weather conditions, this may affect the longevity and durability of your roof. This may lead to leaking if the design does not allow for adequate drainage, or the development of mold, which could corrode the roof’s structure.

Second, the interior of your home should have adequate ventilation and insulation to maintain the roof’s structure from the inside out. Lack of ventilation can cause a build-up of warm, moist air that could encourage the growth of mildew and mold, which could result in the rotting of the roof. Third, ensure that the professionals installing the roof are thorough and well-established in their craft. Even with the best roofing materials, improper installation could affect their durability. With all these factors considered, what is left is for the homeowner to settle on a roofing style and durable materials with which to construct the roof. Popular roofing styles include:

Gable style

This is the commonest style. The design involves two sides of a roof coming together at the peak to form a ridge. It is identifiable by the triangular or ‘A’ shapes formed, visible on the sides of the roof. They are preferred because they are the cheapest and easiest to install. This is because there is minimal cutting and fitting of shapes required, as the shingles that make up the roof can just be placed in long rows.

 They are suitable for areas with cold weather as they can easily shed water during the rainy season. However, they can prove to be unstable in windy conditions if the frames lack adequate support, leading to the peeling off of the roof’s materials. They are suitable for home owners who want more headroom in their house for loft conversion, as well as adequate ventilation in the attic area of the house. Due to their triangular pitch, gable roofs allow for additional floor space for a loft or attic, or you can have beautiful vaulted ceilings to add space and a modern feel to the inside of your home. Gable roofs easily shed water, which makes them great for high rain or snow areas.

There are different variations of this roof style, including the box gable, front gable, cross gable, Dutch gable and gable with shed roof addition. Each is suitable for different aesthetic qualities, but the cross gable and gable with shed roof addition are most suitable for complex home structures and home owners looking to extend their space respectively. Gable roofs are not ideal for areas with high winds because the roof can potentially collapse or materials can peel away. If gable roofs have a big overhang, high winds can even cause the roof to detach completely from the walls.

EPDM, PVC, and TPO roofing membranes are best for a flat roof shape.

Flat roof

The style is fast becoming as popular in residential areas as it was mostly common in commercial and industrial building styles. Flat roofs are simple in form and function and add a modern look to a home due to their clean lines that resemble the horizontal line often seen in nature. Despite the sound of their name, flat roofs actually have a slight slope to allow water to run-off and drain.

Flat roofs do not take up much space due to their slight pitch and can be used to provide additional sun protection for your outdoor living space. It also provides extra outdoor living space, which comes in handy for townhouses with limited backyard space.

 For homes that are energy-efficient, a flat roof provides space to keep solar panels out of sight. They are also cheaper to construct than pitched roofs, as they often follow the natural structure of the home. However, they tend to be more expensive to maintain due to the costs attached to roof repair and replacement. They are also easily susceptible to leakages and are unsuitable for areas with heavy rainfall. This can be, however, be countered by ensuring the roof is waterproof.

Another great plus for this roofing style is the rise of the “green roof”, where one can place plants on the roof to combat insulation in urban areas due to their cooling effect.

The roof is layered using beneficial plant life, soil, drainage and a waterproofing membrane to prevent leaks. Even though flat roofs have a slight slope for water drainage, they are more susceptible to water leakage, therefore flat roofs are not ideal for high rain or snow areas.

Flat roofs are  fast becoming popular  in residential  and industrial buildings

Skillion roof

It is also referred to as a shed roof. The design is essentially a single-sloping roof attached to a taller wall. It looks like half of a gable roof, or a flat roof with a more pronounced slope.

This design is common in modern architectural designs, though it has historically been used for home additions such as servant quarters or car sheds.

In modern homes, this style performs double the work by being both aesthetically useful and allows for easy water shedding. This makes it a great choice for houses in high rainfall areas. However, in windy areas, it can be quite unstable. The pronounced slope of the roof could also mean lower ceilings in one part of the house.

As for roofing materials, homeowners have many options in terms of concrete tiles, wooden tiles, shingles and corrugated iron sheets. Engineered materials have become more preferred as natural materials become more expensive and inaccessible. This roof is easy-to-build, practical, and environmentally-friendly. Constructing a skillion roof takes less time to complete since only a few materials are used.

Skillion roofs also allow homeowners to install skylights. If you are wondering about a downside, skillion roofs do not make an ideal choice for high wind areas. But in terms of rainwater, skillion roofs have this capability, especially with a higher pitch.

When it comes to durability, slate roofs reign supreme, lasting about 85 years. A shingle roof could last about 15 years. Either way, while deciding what style and material combination is best for you, remember that cheap is eventually expensive; always invest in quality that will stand the test of time.

Choosing roofing materials

Before you build your roof style of choice, you want to know what materials you can use. Not all roofing materials accommodate all roofing shapes. Know your best options. Here are some of them:

Metal roofing

As you can see, metal roofs offer more choices in terms of roof shapes. They are perfect for the butterfly, hipped, skillion, curved and combination designs. These roofing materials are tough and resilient. However, they can be quite noisy during stormy weather. Ask your roofing contractor about minimising noise from your metal roof if you choose this material.

Asphalt shingles

This roofing material achieves a balance between durability and aesthetic appeal. Usually lasting from 20-30 years, asphalt shingles come in three types: 3-tab, architectural, and luxury shingles. The 3-tab option is the simplest and cheapest option. Architectural shingles are thicker and create more dimension to your roof. Luxury shingles are the best for they copy the beauty of other roofs like slate and wood. They are perfect for curved roof and combination roof designs.

Single-ply membranes

Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) roofing membranes are best for a flat roof shape. While single-ply membranes are typical among commercial properties, now, homeowners use them for flat roofing. Single-ply membranes nowadays can come in more colors aside from black and white. They are best for flat roof designs.  Regardless of the roofing shape that you go for, be sure to consult with a local roofing company. That way, you get a roof that withstands the weather and accommodates the features you want.

Hipped roof

Another common style is the hipped roof. It has slopes on four sides of the roof that come together at the peak to form a ridge. This type is preferred because unlike the gable roof, it is more stable due to the inward slope of all four sides that make it far more durable. Hip roofs are incredibly stable, sturdy, and durable which makes them excellent for high rain and wind areas. They also allow for extra space for a beautiful dormer window or a small room to lookout from. Though they are also economical, installing a hipped roof is more expensive than installing a gable one as it is more complex to build. For instance, the trusses that make the roof more stable tend to be more difficult to put together. The additional seams in the design also affect the durability of the roof if not adequately secured and maintained, as they could form valleys that make it easier for water to leak through the roof. That said, installation is paramount to the longevity of this roof style. Types of hipped roofs include: simple hip, cross-hipped and half-hipped. Like the cross-gable roof, the cross-hipped style is suitable for homes with different wings.