Features and benefits of roofing sheet materials – what you need to know
A range of highly specialized materials is now used in the construction industry to build roofs for houses and other buildings. As technology has developed, more advanced techniques are now used to keep buildings dry, safe and warm.
These include aluminium sheets, asphalt roofing, cement roofing, polycarbonate roofing, and steel sheets. Each material has its unique features and benefits and depending on precise construction requirements, will be more suitable for one development than another.
Within each material, there are further options. Aluminium and steel, for example, can be color coated while steel can be galvanized or corrugated. Let us take a closer look at six of the main types of roofing sheet and their key features and benefits.
Color coated aluminium sheets have a wide range of applications with roofing just one of them. They can even be used for walls, lamps and packaging. One of the critical features of color coated aluminum is that it is light. This makes it easy to work with and transport. It lessens pressure on supporting structures. Using it can cut construction costs, and it is environmentally friendly.
At the same time, it is durable and will not rust. Aluminum sheets can last for up to 50 years. And importantly for its application as a roof sheet material, it is weatherproof. It will stand up to heat, rain and the cold. Manufacturers can also treat the sheets with chemicals to prevent algae and mold growing. They are then coated in a range of aesthetically pleasing colors so that they can fit in with the rest of the building.
Color coated steel sheets have a range of uses including roofing and can be manufactured in different levels of hardness depending on what is required. Color coated steel sheets are made up of several layers including primers, corrosion barriers, chemical pretreatments and premium paint coating.
Despite being lightweight, steel sheets are incredibly strong, completely water resistant and also tamper proof. They provide excellent insulation, proper ventilation and will not corrode. Steel sheets are durable enough to last for between 40 and 70 years. They are also environmentally friendly and offers excellent protection against fire. Color coated steel sheets can be painted in the perfect color, so the roof fits in with the rest of the building.
Another option is to use galvanized steel sheets. A steel sheet is dipped in hot zinc – this is the process of galvanizing. Adding this layer of zinc provides the steel sheet with added resistance to corrosion and rust. Those advantages make it ideal for roof construction, particularly in exposed areas.
It is also easier to paint on zinc than it is steel. When steel is galvanized, it becomes more stable. Once the zinc is metallurgically bonded with the steel, it will not crack or change shape. This means it will not need regular maintenance or replacing. Galvanizing offers better protection against abrasion and water than a non-galvanized steel sheet or a sheet protected by other methods. A galvanized steel sheet is, therefore, both durable and reliable.
Polycarbonate roofing sheets are made from polypropylene resin. They are lightweight but at the same time very sturdy and shatterproof. Polycarbonate sheets can be transparent or opaque meaning they can be used in a range of applications and are typically best suited to conservatories and greenhouses.
Completely weatherproof due to them being pH neutral, polycarbonate roofing is also resistant to oils and solvents. They can even resist some chemicals. It is also possible to add layers to polycarbonate roofing for protection against fire and ultra-violet rays while they can also be customized and painted in a color to suit.
A hard coating is typically applied to polycarbonate roofing to prevent it from being scratched, and polycarbonate roofing is resistant to both high and low temperatures. They are light and easy to transport and will last for many years without fading.
Asphalt roofing remains popular in some parts of the world, notably the US. This is perhaps because asphalt roofing is still one of the cheapest options. Asphalt is incredibly versatile as it can take on different colors and textures. In liquid form – tar – it can be used on flat roofs. It is very easy to work before it sets and hardens. It can even be made to resemble wood or slate.
It is easy to install and requires little maintenance. It has good durability – but will not last as long as some other types of roofing sheet – and can also be combined with polymers to make it even stronger; this is often applied to commercial properties. Asphalt roofing is water-resistant, and its versatility means it can be modified to cope with different ranges of temperature.
Cement roofing is also known as fiber cement roof sheets, and they are used for a range of domestic and commercial uses. Key features of cement roofing are its strength and durability – thanks largely to the fiber reinforcement process. It is cheap, easily available and weatherproof.
Cement roofing does not rot, is impact resistant and can also withstand extreme heat. It requires little maintenance and can be very versatile. It can be manufactured to look like wood or other materials, and it can be painted. Its construction is conducive to producing consistent airflow, making it a popular choice in farm buildings. Cement roofing absorbs moisture from outside ensuring there are no leaks.
Immense progress has been made in creating types of roofing sheet for any number of different applications, industries and types of building. Who knows what innovations tomorrow will bring and what materials the buildings of the future may feature? For the moment, however, having such a range of options is a good thing as it enables builders, contractors and planners to identify which type of roofing sheet will be best for what they need without being limited.
Those who are looking to cut initial costs may steer towards asphalt and cement, those wanting the best durability as a priority will be drawn towards aluminum and steel sheets. If aesthetics are important – and for many they are – color coated aluminum and color coated steel sheets have plenty to offer. And polycarbonate sheets cannot be overlooked either, especially if the development demands something lightweight, transparent and shatterproof.
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