Building the Safest Roof over Your Home - 4 Must Know Tips

Jayde Ferguson

How often do you look at your roof? Do you really notice it and the job it does keeping you, your family and your belongings safe? For many of us - the answer is no. If you’re building a home from the ground up, the materials and roof style becomes a key focus but for the rest of us moving into a newly bought home – the roof is one of the last things we look at.

When you’re next reversing out the driveway of your home, you may glance up for a few seconds and catch a glimpse of the first line of defence that protects you from natural hazards. That roof over your head takes a pounding from the weather – rain, wind, fire, hail, ice, snow and extreme heat are just some of the factors that weaken your roof as it protects everything underneath it.

As your roof (regardless how new it is) becomes exposed to the weather and other elements that contribute to deterioration, the risk of damage to the roof itself and the contents and people below increases. Having a roof that protects your home and everything in it starts with design, materials, installation, regular inspections, maintenance and repair. We look at the best ways to ensure your roof is the safest and help build a protective barrier between you and the outside world.  

1. Roofing Materials

There’s a wide range of materials suitable for your home’s roof including speciality roofing products like metal, slate and tile roofs. Concrete roofs and fibreglass shingles are also popular materials used in today’s market too.

When choosing the best material for your roof, there are three main factors affecting your decision. These include the style of roof you want to go for (what complements your exterior), cost (composition shingles are normally best value for money but tile roofs are extremely durable) and the final factor, location. If you live in an area that’s subjected to heavy snow, rain or other harsh conditions this will dictate the materials best for your roof and how steep the pitch of your roof should be. When investing in a new roof, there are many things you can check to ensure you get the strongest roof you can afford.

Homes in locations with heavy snow should avoid clay tiles as these can be easily damaged. Flat roofs are also not ideal because snow can easily accumulate and can easily cause damage to your home. For homes subjected to heavy rainfall, concrete tiles and composition shingles are best as these materials do a great job of evacuating the rain from the roof. For areas prone to bush fires, consider non-combustible roofing materials like concrete and terracotta to provide adequate protection against the heat. Concrete and terracotta roof tiles are also perfect for homes in colder climates as they never warp, no matter how cold it gets.

2. Visual Clues – Repair

There are many visual signs of a roof problem occurring and when the time has come to make repairs. If it’s been a while since you have had the roof inspected, or if you have just moved into a new home your first priority should be to identify any major problems and fix the roof as soon as possible. 

When there are serious roofing problems, visual clues can be apparent from the inside of your home. Water stains or mould can signal a leak caused by a cracked hole in the roof and it’s important to remember that even the smallest leaks can be a sign of big problems.

Other clues can only be seen by getting up and inspecting the roof firsthand. Things to look out for can include bubbles (when moisture is trapped under the roof cover), roof flashing (when the strips of metal or other materials has a gap in the roof cover perimeter) and tears in the roof cover or worn cracks.

3. Storm and Weather Proofing

Getting your home and roof ready for the heavy weather conditions is crucial to keep you, your family and your belongings safe. In the lead-up to the cooler months and times when your home will be subjected to harsh storms, ensure you do a proper check of your roof.

Check for any leaks and make sure your gutters are cleaned for any leaves, twigs and other debris that can inhibit proper drainage. Keep any trees near your roof or overhanging trimmed to prevent branches rubbing against the roof and clogging drains and gutters.

If you’re located in a hurricane prone area, make sure you check if the gutters include gutter straps. These straps are deigned to resist uplift and help to keep your roof ‘on’. After a heavy storm or hail event, it’s always a good idea to contact your insurer to have your roof properly inspected by a professional even if you’re not aware of any damage occurring.

4. Regular Inspections and Maintenance

Unfortunately when it comes to roofs, there is no such thing as no maintenance. Although most roof materials will come with a structural guarantee, there are still many important factors to look out for when it comes to caring for your roof.

The number one maintenance is cleaning the downpipes, gutters and valleys of your roof. These should always be free of leaves and debris which can be easily built up from surrounding trees (even when it’s not exposed to harsh weather conditions). These build ups not only cause leaks and drain blockages, but can also be a potential fire hazard. You should aim to clean your roof at least one a year, twice if you live in a particularly tree lined area.

Every five to seven years, your roof should be inspected by a professional expert or tradesperson. If your home has been subjected to severe weather and harsh natural hazards, it’s ideal to make a thorough inspection and check the condition of any roof attachments and materials. A professional tradesperson can help with this to ensure you haven’t missed anything.

Author Bio

This article is written by Jayde Ferguson who writes for Air Roofing, specialised roofing contractors in WA with over 120 years’ experience in residential, commercial and industrial roofing.