Garden buildings need a suitable roof to protect the contents from wind and rain and apart from greenhouses there’s a multitude of choices for roofing materials. Your choice should be dictated by cost, the size of the garden building, and the use to which is it going to be put.
Roofing Felt – The Popular Option
Simple garden sheds are almost always roofed with felt as it’s cheap and easy to apply. Note that this is different to the roofing felt used for the under layer of a proper roof on a house. It’s coated with bitumen with chips of mineral stuck to it so that it is weatherproof from the start.
The felt will be applied over a wooden form, often plywood or MDF, sometimes planks similar to those used for the sides of the shed. When laying the felt start at the bottom if the roof slopes so that upper layers overlap the lower ones.
But felt roofing does deteriorate over the years. It becomes brittle and often the first you know about the problem is when a gale rips part of it off. But as long as the damage is in an area that you can see then it’s simple, cheap and easy to fix.
Shingles for a More Decorative Look
More decorative garden buildings, like summer houses or wendy houses, might require something that looks a bit more dainty. Shingles can give the look of tiles without having to deal with their cost and weight. They are generally tile-shaped but light-weight and can be made of wood or bark but for garden buildings roofing felt is most common.
Shingles can be ordered in different shapes and colours which gives more options than with sheets of roofing felt. The shingles can be rectangular, semi-circular or a number of other variations on those themes. Common colours are grey, brown, dark red or green.
Fitting shingles is more time-consuming as each one has to be nailed down separately but there are also strips of shingles that are joined at the top to form a long strip. If you layer them properly the connecting strip at the top is obscured by the layer above it so you get a shingle look in half the time.
Polycarbonate Sheeting – Flat and Corrugated
If you want to let more light into a garden building, for a potting shed, for example, you can lay down sheets of transparent polycarbonate, either twin-wall or triple-wall. Another option is clear corrugated plastic which is cheaper but only has the one layer. Both of these are tricky to insulate properly and in particular you will find it hard to draught-proof any corrugated material at the edges because of the undulations.
There are many other corrugated sheet options, not necessarily translucent. Bitumen coated sheet, metal and various plastics are all available in a wide variety of colours. Lightweight and simple to fit they are a good option for workshops and larger sheds.
Many larger sheds and workshops used to be roofed with corrugated asbestos sheets which are obviously outlawed today. If you have an older garden building and suspect that the roof is made of asbestos then you ought to think about replacing. The danger comes from inhaling the dust when it’s cut or broken so get it removed by professionals.
The Green Option
Finally there is a new product out that might appeal to eco-conscious shed builders – strips of tiles similar to the shingle strips mentioned above, but made from recycled rubber tires. They are thicker and longer lasting than felt shingles and less resource hungry too.