New Roofing Materials in Australia

You are going to build a new home. You have your lot all paid for in the subdivision, a nice leafy suburb with many new families already living there, and houses going up all over the estate as quickly as the contractors can build them. You are making a decision on your building plans and what options you have.

  • Brick exterior or cement rendered
  • Bathtub or just showers in bathrooms
  • Double glazing or single
  • Sliding aluminium doors or French doors?
  • Roofing materials – steel, terracotta tiles, concrete tiles, roofing shingles
  • Landscaping
  • Fence – brick pillars, wrought iron, picket, vinyl

Decisions on the above, depending on which way you go, willeither set your home apart from others, or your home will just blend in with the rest of the properties on the estate.roofing shingles display board showing colours available

Will you Choose Unique or Blah?

There’s no real need to go completely art-deco either. One of the really important decisions is the roof. It’s a show stopper when you think about how your roof stands out from other homes around you. It’s a bit like landscaping. If you have beautiful, interesting, colourful landscaping, the home becomes a talking point in the immediate neighbourhood.

The ‘Good Ole Days’

The roof is one of the most important and integral parts of the building and the main element of protection from the weather. A proper functioning roof is vital to the building lasting any length of time.

The decisions on home roofs in Australia has moved from timber shingles and slate to corrugated asbestos sheeting, then to cement or terracotta tiles and for the past 25 years, zincalume. Timber became expensive and not all that good as a material to keep out inclement weather, slate became expensive and required reinforced roofing structure to accommodate the weight, and we all know the dangers of asbestos.

Shingle Roofing Material in Australia from 1800 – 1850

Early history shows that Casuarina trees or ironbark trees were the main types of wood from which shingles were made. Local artisans, many brought from China, became quite adept with adzes and adopted techniques to install and replace roof shingles. They even had to make their own nails because the softer nails from England would bend when being hammered into the hardwood.

Here’s an interesting list of the progression of roofing material throughout the history of Australia:

  • Timber shingles
  • Thatch
  • Slate
  • Metal Tiles
  • Galvanised Iron
  • Zincalume and Colorbond
  • Terracotta Tiles
  • Concrete Tiles
  • Fibre Cement

The types of roof haven’t changed a lot over the centuries and common roofs developed from a small number of roof types – the gable roof, hipped roof and lean-to or skillion roof.

Roof Shingles

historic building with roof shingles

The funny thing about talking about roof shingles today is that it’s a return to the past. Admittedly the shingle has taken on a new persona in that it is made from a completely different material, but the use of the shingle on the roof makes the home in which you are about to live look completely different to those around you. It’s still not a commonly used style of roofing material, yet the benefits and cost advantages suggest that those people roofing their houses 200 years ago, were not silly.

Comparing Roof Shingles

Before you decide on a new roof for your home you need to compare the different types and styles of roof shingles. Everybody has different tastes and with roof shingles, there is a wide variety of choices. Sometimes fewer options are better so as you don’t get confused, but choice means comparing qualities and price that best fits your needs.

Different manufacturers, styles, and types are all available in roofing shingles. The first comparison is the price. Does the one you want fit your budget? If the price is way beyond your budget, don’t even go there. If you can’t afford it, there’s no point comparing it with cheaper products. One can assume that the more expensive one is probably superior in quality. For example, there is quite a bit of difference between a 3-tab asphalt shingle and a slate shingle. Another factor in your decision-making is the climate where you live. The roof style of your home, the weather, and the climate all affect your roofing choices, or should, at least, be taken into consideration.

The Roofing Materials

Lots of choices mean difficult comparisons. here are some material aspects to consider when comparing roofing shingles:

Asphalt shingles – These are the most popular and that means they are the biggest seller. They are available in different styles and therefore different prices. Their properties include durability, light-weight, and weather resistant in most conditions. They are very easy to install. Basically, you can buy 3-tab asphalt shingles in several colours.

The architectural shingle – is a laminated asphalt shingle which has deeper colours so your roof gets a variegated appearance. That makes them, in a way, comparable to slate or cedar wood shake shingles. Renovation work on older, heritage buildings are usually done with this more expensive style of asphalt shingle. Let’s just say that if you choose the architectural asphalt shingle, your roof is going to look pretty good.

Organic or Fibreglass

Another comparative factor is that some shingles have an organic base while others are fibreglass. There is an inherent fire risk with organic based shingles albeit they are strong and insulate better. The ones made from fibreglass have ceramic and minerals embedded into a mat. This helps reflect the sun’s rays. If you are ‘going green’, then the organic-based roof shingles will appeal. If it’s energy-efficiency you want, then opt for the fibreglass style. Either way, you will be benefiting the environment.

Different Material Comparison

When you compare roof shingles made from different materials, metal panels are gaining popularity in both residential and commercial buildings. They are made to look like asphalt, architectural, slate and cedar wood roofing shingles. The positives –

  • look neat,
  • durable and
  • last a long time.

A long time means several decades, by the way. Are they expensive? Yes, but maintenance and installation are cheaper. But, the cost of installation and maintenance works out much cheaper.

The Job

Firstly, if it’s a new home that you are building, then the roof will be part of the construction project, handled by the builder. In the case of a re-roofing job, don’t kid yourself that you have the necessary experience and knowledge to attempt doing the job yourself. If ever there was a job best left to experts, then it’s installing a new shingle roof.

You want your roof to last years, be secure and not leak. That means using a professional roofing contractor who is licensed, trained, understands the product, and is experienced.

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