Roofing & Guttering - Roofing General

Although the main function of slating and tiling is to keep the building watertight they are also highly visual parts of of a building which add character to the structure and the landscape. What roofing materials are used is down to a mix of cost, quality, local weather considerations, and local planning regulations.

Roofing Materials & Systems Summarised :-

Underlay Materials  :-


  • felt;

  • plastic underlays;

  • breather membranes - either vapour or non-vapour permeable.

Roofing Battens :-  grade A BS5534 softwood should only be used in roofing. 

Slates and Tiles Summarised :-


  • Concrete Interlocking Tiles – these are the most popular because they are relatively cheap, quick to lay and come in a range of colours, finishes and shapes; 

  • Plain Tiles – these are the traditional, small, rectangular tiles found in many old properties. There are clay and concrete plain tiles and the latter come in a range of colours and finishes and are generally cheaper than their clay equivalents;

  • Natural Slates – the vast majority of slates now used in the United Kingdom are imported from Spain. Because slates are a natural product they may vary tremendously in quality from one quarry to another. A higher price slate reflects higher quality;

  • Artificial Slates – these are fibre-cement machine-made slates and, as such, there should be no variance in thickness;

  • Ridge/ Hip Tiles – these are either part-round or angled and normally made from the same material as the roof covering i.e. clay or concrete. Ridge and hip tiles are essentially the same, the only real difference is that hip tiles are flatter and less angled and rounded that ridge tiles.

Fixing Systems :-

  • Dry Fix Systems - Dry fix systems are designed to fix a variety of components to the roof without the use of mortar. Dry fix is more expensive than its mortar equivalent, although it can be cost neutral when considering that it can be fixed in any weather conditions and is likely to need less maintenance over the life of the roof;

  • Dry Ridge – there are three types of dry ridge systems currently available. One uses a continuous plastic rail which also acts as a top batten, one uses shorter plastic rails that clip together and sit on top of the tiles or slates, and one uses a rapid type adhesive-backed flexible roll;

  • Dry Hip – these are similar to dry ridge systems but there is more work involved with hips than with dry ridge. The slates or tiles that come into the hip all need to be cut and fixed in place;

  • Dry Valleys – there are now several dry valley systems available for more or less the full range of slates and tiles. Most dry valleys have a central ridge running along their full length and come in different heights for different roof coverings;

  • Ventilation Products – where required, it is important to ensure the right amount of ventilation is built into the roof in the right areas to avoid condensation issues. There are a range of products available that can be used to introduce, high, low, and intermediate ventilation into the roof.


Comparing Slates and Tiles :-

Natural slating is excellent for maintaining the character of period or traditional homes. The durability of the material guarantees roof longevity. However, if a more modern looking roofing solution is desired, the colour and design choice of tiles may offer a more suitable alternative. Slates can either be natural or artificial.

  • Natural slates - are made from a fine-grained metamorphic rock that can be split into thin layers, and are the most resistant variety. Whilst this makes them more expensive, they offer an authentic and pleasing aesthetic solution for traditional style homes. Natural slating offers a very long lifespan, good fire protection and an invulnerability to rot or insect damage, all of which ensures a very low-maintenance roofing solution;

  • Artificial slates - are made of fibre cement which is a composite material of sand, cement and cellulose fibres. There is a fibre reinforcement within the cement which gives it extra strength and durability. The main application areas for fibre cement products are roofing and internal and external cladding. Artificial fibre cement slates now offer up to eight different colour options as an alternative to the one colour natural slate.

Tiles are produced from either concrete or clay and are available in a wide range of designs and colours, which makes them more suited to modern houses than slates. Both types of tile will have a life expectancy of 50 years and will be of equal durability and resistance.

  • Concrete tiles - are available in plain or interlocking fittings and are usually bigger than clay, which makes them easier to install. However, for roofing with skylights or many chimneys, smaller tiles are needed to better accommodate around the structures, making clay the better option.

The flatter the tiles are, the quicker and easier the installation process will be, however there is the option to layer up the fittings to increase weather protection at additional cost.