Roof cladding is a layer of covering applied to a roof in order to provide both weather protection and aesthetic appeal. It may consist of large sheets of material, or many small, overlapping units. While there are many different types of roof cladding, the most common options include asphalt or slate shingles, ceramic or concrete tiles, and metal sheeting.
Many US homes feature shingled roof cladding. Shingles are thin, flat squares or rectangles of material applied to a roof in an overlapping fashion, resulting in a weather-tight covering. The most commonly used shingle materials are asphalt and slate.
Asphalt shingling is one of the most affordable roof cladding options. This type of shingle is made from asphalt which may be mixed with very small pieces of ceramic, fiberglass, or waste paper. The lifespan of asphalt shingles can vary from 15 to 50 years, although consistently hot weather conditions may cause them to degrade much faster.
Slate shingling is made from slate rock which has been hewn into thin sheets. When properly installed, this type of roof cladding is highly weather-tight and long-lasting, with an average life of 80 to 100 years. In addition, it provides an attractive, natural look. One potential caveat of slate cladding, however, is its high cost.
Another common roof cladding material is tile. As with shingles, roofing tiles are generally small units laid in an overlapping fashion to create a protective covering. These tiles are commonly made from ceramic or concrete.
Ceramic tiles have been used for roof cladding since the time of the ancient Greeks. This type of cladding consists of arched pieces of fired clay laid in an interlocking pattern, providing excellent rain drainage. While it tends to be expensive to install, it is long-lasting, with an estimated lifespan of 100 years or more. Ceramic roofing tiles are usually dark orange or red in color, and create an attractive roof with a distinctly European character.
Concrete roofing tiles often closely resemble ceramic tiles, although they may be available in a wider range of colors. While concrete tiling provides a similar look to ceramic roof cladding for less money, concrete has several potential drawbacks. First of all, it is quite heavy, and thus can be used only to roof houses with extremely strong frames. Second, it is more penetrable by rain and snow than many other types of cladding, and usually must be underlaid with protective sheeting. Third, it has a short lifespan relative to its cost, typically lasting around 30 years.
Metal sheeting is another commonly used cladding option. This type of roofing typically consists of large, corrugated sheets of metal overlapped at their edges to create a weather-tight covering. Metal roofing is lightweight, requires little ongoing maintenance, and, depending on the quality of the metal used, can last more than 50 years. It tends to be fairly utilitarian in appearance, however, and is thus more popular in industrial construction than residential building.