7 Types of Roofing for South African Homes

7 Types of Roofing for South African Homes

When you set out to have your house built or reroofed, you may want to consider the type of roof you will have built. Roofing is one of, if not the most important components of a house. We don’t spend enough time being appreciative of their importance, but a roof is the only part of the house that provides shelter. This gives it a tremendous responsibility, and demands durability, integrity and longevity.

Some factors that may influence your decision will be :

  • Longevity: How long it will last for.
  • Compatibility: Will the roof framing be able to support the weight of the roof?
  • Roof Slope: Considering the materials and weather, will the roof be able to channel water property.
  • Design: Will the look of the roof fit in well with rest of the property.
  • Materials: Are the materials eco-friendly and safe to use?
  • Legalities: Is the type of roofing allowed by local building codes?
  • Price: How much does it cost?

Asphalt Shingles

Dark-eyed Junco perched on an asphalt shingle roof,
Image by TriviaKing at English Wikipedia [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], from Wikimedia Commons
Ashpalt shingles are made of fiberglass saturated in asphalt and coated with mineral granules. The asphalt makes the shingles waterproof, while the granules give them extra durability.

Asphalt shingles are available in a wide variety of colours. Typically, in sunny areas, builders install a lighter colour in order to better reflect sunlight and keep the house cool. In cooler areas, they use darker colours to absorb the sun’s heat to keep the house warm.

Because they’re fairly lightweight, shingles don’t ask too much of the roof frame. The typical weight for asphalt shingles weighs between 11 to 14 kilograms per square metre.

Asphalt roof shingles are one of the most popular roofing options. Their organic look appeals to most home-owners and fits in well with just about any type of property. Their waterproof component allows for less strict sloping requirements because they do well in channeling water. Additionally, their durability allows them to resist fire and wind very well.

Other factors that make asphalt shingles more commonly used is the fact that they’re relatively easy to install and are inexpensive.

Polymer Shingles

Plastic Polymer Shingles

Plastic polymer roofs are pretty durable and can last for longer than 50 years. They are designed to look similar to organic materials such as wood and slate, which gives them a somewhat natural appearance from afar.

Similar to metal sheeting, plastic can reflect and absorb the sunlight to keep the home warm or cool, depending on the environment. Polymer shingles are usually more expensive than metal, which is reasonable since manufacturers can mould plastic into various shapes and it won’t rust over time.

Plastic will melt in extreme temperatures, so these tiles will not provide fire resistance. If installed correctly, however, they may provide a high resistance to wind.

In an effort to move towards a “greener” environment, if you choose plastic shingles, please consider buying from a manufacturer who uses recycled materials.

Metal Sheeting

Metal Roofing
Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

Metal roofs are usually composed of steel, aluminium or zinc alloy and copper. Colour choices are rarely a factor, since you can always repaint them. Unfortunately, metal roofs don’t have an organic look, something that is difficult to overcome even by repainting.

Metal isn’t porous, which makes these roofs extremely waterproof. As such, roof slope requirements are very flexible with many houses having very low to very steep slopes. Being a durable material means that metal roofs do well to endure fire and wind damage.

The sheets on a metal roof are segmented and attached separately which makes them easy to install. Depending on the metal used, they can range from being inexpensive to moderately more pricey.

Concrete Tile Roofing

Clay Roof

Like typical masonry, concrete tiles are composed of a mixture of cement and sand and are available in a range of colours.

Concrete is a very heavy material, so it will require reinforced framing for reliable support. This also means that installation can be somewhat complex. Added to that, the masonry-type of installation means that slope must be moderately high to high.

Concrete will withstand the heat in the event of fire and provide a decent amount of resistance to wind. They aren’t the cheapest option but they are moderately inexpensive to install.

Clay Tile Roofing

Clay tile roofing is very similar to concrete tile roofing. It is by far one of the most preferred roof material choices in South Africa, especially in suburban areas. They are durable and fire and wind resistant. Just like concrete, clay is very heavy and requires the proper support.

Clay tiles are available in a few colours, but most people opt to go for the ever-popular terracotta style for its organic appearance. They’re usually a little more pricey than their concrete counterparts.


Slate Tiled Roofing

Slate tiles are similar to concrete tiles in the way they’re stacked in a masonry arrangement. They are obviously made of a different material, though. Slate rock in fact. Slate is a fine-grained, foliated metamorphic rock that is created by the alteration of shale or mudstone by low-grade regional metamorphism. It is popular for a wide variety of uses such as roofing, flooring, and flagging because of its durability and attractive appearance.

Slate has a dark grey to black tone and manufacturers tend to keep them as such. This means that colours are not varied, but it also means that slate will provide a pure organic look to your building.

By design, slate can only be used on steeply sloped roofing. Essentially, it is a re-purposed piece of rock and its weight requires support from reinforced framing. However, as rock is, slate is very resistant to both fire and wind.

The design, resistance, durability and moderate rarity make slate the most expensive material on this list. But keep in mind that it can last between 75 – 150 years.

Thatched Roofing

Thatched Roof

It may not be the most expensive to install, but all you need do is look at a thatched roof to realise that it will be a headache to maintain.

Thatched roofs are typically made from reed grass, straw or sedge. The way the grass is stacked causes thatched roofs to become very heavy and require appropriate structural integrity to support the weight. Grass will burn in the event of a fire so expect absolutely no resistance. However, if installed correctly, thatched roofs may provided some resistance to wind.

Before modern equipment came along, thatched roofs were very popular, being built by the house-dwellers themselves, so it is moderately easy to install. To this day, thatched roofing is still used because it effortlessly integrates a home with nature. This makes it popular with place such as lodges and nature reserves.

Also Read: Types of Waterproofing and How They’re Applied To Your Building

Making the Right Choice

Re-roofing your home is no easy task and can be quite expensive. Its important to get it right the first time. Proper installation of a roof with the right materials can help a building stand for decades to come. Make sure to perform basic roof maintenance regularly to further improve longevity.

We hope this list will assist you in making the right choice. Let us know your thoughts.

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