Types of roofing sheets

The roof is the top structure of a building forming the upper covering to protect from sun, rain, wind, cold, and heat; there are different types of roofing sheets with varying qualities and prices. This article aims to give detailed knowledge of the advantages and disadvantages of some common roofing sheet types. The primary purpose of a roof is to protect from the elements, but it can also contribute to the privacy, safety, security, insulation of a building, and so on. A roof on a building of any kind is one of the most essential parts of the building.

There are many types of roofing sheets used in construction.   Some are of high quality and expensive while others are low quality but affordable. In this post, I will be writing about the various sheets used for roofing, together with their advantages and disadvantages.

Stone coated metal roof used on a duplex
Typical roof type

Types of roofing sheets

  • Aluminum roofing sheets
  • Asbestos roofing sheets
  • Stone-coated roofing sheets
  • Bio-composite roofing sheets
  • Polycarbonate roofing sheets
  • Bitumen roofing sheets
  • Bamboo roofing sheets

Aluminum roofing sheets

Aluminum roofing sheets are basically available in two forms: the corrugated long-span Aluminum roofing sheets and the step-tiles Aluminum roofing sheets and they come in three different thickness variants ranging from 0.45mm, 0.55mm, and 0.70mm gauges. Aluminum roofing sheets are among the most durable and reliable roofing sheets when compared to other types of roofing sheets, they have high corrosion resistance and they have very low leakage tendencies.

Advantages of Aluminum roofing sheets

  • Durability: Aluminum roofing sheets are highly durable and when properly installed can last over 20 to 50 years, this is the advantage aluminum roofing sheets have over some other types of roofing sheets.  if you want to install roofing sheets that can last for 10 to 20 years, aluminum roofing sheets should be your choice.
  • Weather resistance: Aluminum roofing sheets contain an Aluminum Oxide coating that provides adequate resistance to environmental attack. This simply means that all Aluminum roofing sheets are fundamentally sound in terms of colors coated on them and they can stay many years without any form of discoloration.
  •  Low heat conduction: Aluminum roofing sheets reflect light rays from the sun, which reduces the heat from the sun during the day compared to some other types of roofing sheets. They greatly reduce the effect of heat on the roof thereby creating a relatively conducive temperature, especially in tropic regions.
  • Lightweight: Aluminum roofing sheets are highly lightweight compared to some other roofing sheets and can be installed without heavy structural support underneath the roofing sheets. Because of their lightweight nature, they are easy to handle during installations.
  • Easy to install: Aluminum roofing sheets due to their lightweight nature are easy to install and relatively cheap to install since you will not need heavy-duty machines for installation. They can be installed within the shortest possible time frame.
  • Low maintenance cost: Due to their durability nature, high resistance to corrosion, and other environmental attack, Aluminum roofing sheets are highly cost-effective in terms of maintenance. They can stay an average of 10 to 20 years without any major maintenance.

Disadvantages of Aluminum roofing sheets

  • Prone to wind destruction: In a heavily wined environment, Aluminum roofing sheets are prone to wind destruction. Due to their lightweight nature, they can easily be affected by heavy wind.
  • Cost: Compared to some other roofing sheets, Aluminum roofing sheets could be relatively expensive even though they will pay off in the long run for their durability but for a client, on a low budget, they are quite expensive.
  • Noise: One of the major disadvantages of Aluminum roofing sheets, when compared to some other forms of roofing sheets, is that they can be noisy during heavy rainstorms. Each droplet of rain constitutes a chaotic drumming sound that could be very disturbing to the ears and highly discomforting. 
  • Easy to dent: Aluminum roofing sheets are highly malleable and therefore easy to be dented during installations. Due to their lightweight nature, they can not withstand heavy impact, on any occasion of heavy impact on the roof, Aluminum roofing sheets could easily be dented by such impact. 

Asbestos roofing sheets

Asbestos roofing sheets also known as AC roofing sheets are a composite material that contains asbestos fiber as reinforcement material and cement to provide stiffness and rigidity that form a sheet to maintain its size without breaking. Asbestos cement roofing sheets are usually formed into corrugated or flat sheets but can be molded into other shapes and forms. 

Research has shown that asbestos fibers when inhaled for a long time, can cause some cancer-related diseases such as asbestosis, mesothelioma, and lung cancer. Today plant fibers are fast replacing asbestos fibers because of the ban in many countries due to health-related issues.

Advantages of Asbestos roofing sheets

  • Resistance to fire: Asbestos roofing sheets are highly resistant to fire and can not easily be burnt.
  • Cost-effective:  These roofing sheets are very cheap and inexpensive to install, they are quite an affordable option for low-budget roofing.
  • Good thermal insulation: where energy efficiency is paramount in a building, Asbestos roofing sheets are a better option to choose. They form a very good thermal insulation which can greatly increase the energy efficiency of a building.
  • Durability: They are highly durable and likely to survive any weather condition and they are highly weatherproof.
  • Easy to maintain: Asbestos roofing sheets are easy to clean and very cheap to maintain.

Disadvantages of Asbestos cement roofing sheets

  • Hazardous: One of the major disadvantages of using Asbestos roofing sheets is that they are highly hazardous to human health. The microparticles in Asbestos roofing sheets which when released into the air and inhaled for a prolonged period may result in serious life-threatening health issues.   
  • They are very difficult to repair when damaged.
  • Because of the hazardous nature of Asbestos roofing sheets, new materials are currently being manufactured as better replacements.   

Stone-coated metal roofing tiles

Stone-coated metal roofing tiles are made from galvanized steel, coated with chips of stone. These stone chips stick to the galvanized steel by using an acrylic film.  They are produced in different forms, colors, and shapes and they also come in different variant gauges ranging from 0.35mm, 0.4mm, and 0.5mm. If you desire durable and aesthetic benefits from traditional roofing material, Stone-coated metal roofing tiles are the best options for your building.

Advantages of Stone coated metal roofing sheets

  • Durability: Stone-coated metal roofing sheets are highly durable and tough compared to some other types of roofing sheets. They can withstand heavy rain, hail or gusts, and many other adverse weather conditions. Although many consider stone-coated metal roofing sheets to be a heavy material, on the contrary, they are light and weigh 50 to 150 pounds per square meter and they can last for 40 to 70 years.
  • Aesthetic and versatile: Stone-coated metal roofing sheets are aesthetically appealing and beautiful, they have varieties of textures, colors, forms, and designs that fit any style of a building design.
  • Low cost of maintenance: This type of roofing sheet is highly cost-effective when it comes to maintenance, they require little or no maintenance if properly installed. Because of their stone-coated nature, it creates a thick protective cover for the entire roof structure that keeps the building from severe adverse weather conditions all through the year, and that eliminates the routine maintenance that applies to some other types of roofing sheets. 
  • Energy efficiency: Stone-coated metal roofing sheets are highly energy efficient as they reflect heat from the sun and reduce the effect of heat on the building creating a conducive roof temperature.

  • Available in different colors and styles: Stone-coated metal roofing sheets are available in many different colors, textures, and styles that give users a wide range of choices to make in selecting roofing sheets that meet their design needs.
  • Resistant to corrosion: Due to their galvanized nature, stone-coated metal roofing sheets are highly resistant to salt, an alkaline substance, and acid that causes corrosion in roofing sheets. And as well, they are highly resistant to rust.

Disadvantages of Stone coated metal roofing sheets

  • High cost: Stone-coated metal roofing sheets are highly expensive, and the initial installation cost is always high compared to other types of roofing sheets.
  • Noisy: Rain or hail droplets on Stone-coated metal roofing sheets could be noisy and disturbing except if a sturdy jacketed roof deck is placed in between the roof to serve as a barrier to reduce the sound effect. 
  • Requires professional installation: installation of stone-coated metal roofing sheets requires expertise and professionalism for precision and accuracy to avoid leakage or damage to the roof structure.  

Bio-composite roofing sheets

These roofing sheets are manufactured by using plant fiber as reinforcement in synthetic resins. The plant fibers commonly used in  Bio-composite roofing sheets are banana fiber, coconut coir, sisal fiber, and jute fiber. They create a cultural effect on buildings and are eco-friendly.

Advantages of Bio-composite roofing sheets

  • Bio-composite roofing sheets are environmentally friendly.
  • They are cheap to install
  • They are bio-renewable
  • Bio-composite roofing sheets are very lightweight.
  • They are durable.

Disadvantages of Bio-composite roofing sheets

  • They have poor resistance to fire compared to some other types of roofing sheets.
  • They are prone to termite attacks.

Polycarbonate roofing sheets

Polycarbonate roofing sheets are very resilient and strong thermoplastic materials. They are very lightweight and can withstand extreme temperatures, cold or hot. Due to their resilient qualities, they make very good roofing materials for many applications. Though polycarbonate roofing sheets may not be the best options for all kinds of buildings, they could be better options for other structures such as garages, decks, sheds, patios, and conservatories. Polycarbonate roofing sheets are mostly used for roofing in industrial warehouses or as pool covers. They have about 245 times the impact strength of float glass and over 20 times that of acrylic. Polycarbonate roofing sheets are very good roofing materials for a wide range of outdoor uses.

Advantages of Polycarbonate roofing sheets

  • Polycarbonate roofing sheets are resilient and very strong, they can withstand extreme amounts of impact force and are almost unbreakable.

  • They are bullet-resistant and can be used as shields in war zones.

  • Polycarbonate roofing sheets are also very lightweight, which makes them easy to handle during installation and transportation.

  • Polycarbonate roofing sheets have UV-blocking capabilities which makes them perfect materials for constructing sunroom roofing and construction of greenhouses. 

  • Polycarbonate roofing sheets are highly resistant to extreme weather conditions either sunlight, snow, or rain. This enhances the durability of the roofing sheets, they can last for many years without any damage, fading, or discoloring.

  • They are very cheap and affordable roofing materials. 

Disadvantages of Polycarbonate roofing sheets

  • One of the disadvantages of Polycarbonate roofing sheets is their poor resistance to scratch and dent.
  • Poor resistance to fire.

Bitumen roofing sheets

Bitumen roofing sheets are produced from byproducts of hydrocarbons known as bitumen. They are manufactured in different shapes and colors, these roofing sheets are available for both hot and cold weather conditions.

Advantages of Bitumen roofing sheets

  • Durability: Bitumen Roofing Sheets have a very high tensile strength that makes them strong and tough and unlikely to develop cracks.  Bitumen Roofing Sheets are also resistant to wind, fire, and hail and hardly to be damaged by wind or the event of storms. 
  • Bitumen roofing sheets are highly resistant to extreme weather conditions.
  • In extremely cold temperatures Bitumen roofing sheets greatly reduce the cold effect in a building.
  • They are highly resistant to termites and unlikely to be damaged by insects.
  • Bitumen roofing sheets can be applied in many ways to both cold and hot temperatures.

Disadvantages of Bitumen roofing sheets

  • The main disadvantage of Bitumen roofing sheets is that they absorb heat from the sun which may excessively heat the building.
  • Bitumen roofing sheets are very expensive at the initial cost of installation.
  • They have a low water resistance and constant stagnation of water on the Bitumen roofing sheets will damage or reduce the life span of the roof.
  • Bitumen roofing sheets are less aesthetic and attractive compared to some other types of roofing sheets.
  • They are heavy-weight materials that require very dense structural roof support. 

Bamboo roofing sheets

Bamboo roofing sheets are typical traditional roofing sheets made from bamboo trees. They are manufactured from a natural and sustainable resource and most times they come in corrugated shapes that give a building a historical and traditional look. They can be applied to cover homes, storage facilities, animal pens, and many other temporary or permanent buildings or structures.

The corrugated bamboo roofing sheets are coated with resins to protect them from extreme external weather conditions. 

Advantages of Bamboo roofing sheets

  • Bamboo roofing sheets are very attractive with a naturally appealing appearance and are very easy to work and install.
  • Bamboo roofing sheets are environmentally friendly, renewable, and safe compared to some other types of roofing sheets.

  • They are less noisy in the rain and cooler in the sun than other conventional metal or plastic roofing sheets. A study has shown that animals in sheds roofed with bamboo do better and yield more milk than those under other types of roofing sheets because of the cooler effect of Bamboo roofing sheets on the environment.

  • Bamboo roofing sheets are durable and strong, they have excellent internal bonding strengths with very high resistance to weathering, fire, or insect attacks.

  • They are economical, affordable, and easy to install.

Disadvantages of Bamboo roofing sheets

  • Bamboo roofing sheets require regular maintenance to last long.  
  • They are likely to absorb water during the rainy seasons which may result in leakages on the roof.
  • If not sufficiently treated Bamboo roofing sheets may undergo the fungus attack or attacks caused by termites or other insects.
  • Bamboo roofing sheets could easily shrink or swell in reaction to extreme weather conditions which may result in leakages on the roof. 

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