Whether you're looking for a new roof for your shed, agricultural barn or commercial building, there are many materials to choose from. These include plastic and metal options, which have both long been popular choices for various reasons.
In this article, we compare the price, maintenance needs, appearance and endurance of both plastic and metal roof options.
Plastic Roofing Materials
Polycarbonate Roofing Sheets
Polycarbonate roof sheets are a lightweight, durable roofing material that is commonly used on greenhouses and conservatories as a roofing product.
The transparency of the material allows visible light to penetrate through the roof with UV protection. This keeps the building warm when the sun is shining, whilst trapping high temperatures and saving on heating costs.
Also used for domestic skylights, polycarbonate is a cheaper alternative to glass, whilst being easy to install and less fragile. They are also manufactured in a variety of profiles, with corrugated plastic, trainwall and flat sheets being among the most commonly used.
Cost: Polycarbonate sheets are a cheaper alternative to glass, whilst being easier to install and more durable.
Ease of Installation: Due to their lightweight structure, Polycarbonate roofing sheets are easy to install. Unlike glass, they will not smash if dropped or mishandled at height and are virtually unbreakable due to their modular structure.
Maintenance: These plastic sheets have a tendency to attract moss and algae, especially over the winter months. This means they will need regular cleaning for optimum light transmission as the seasons change.
Durability: Polycarbonate sheets are exceptionally strong and durable thanks to their bonded chemical structure and high volume of bonds.
Aesthetics: A downside to polycarbonate roofing sheets is that they are not as aesthetically appealing as real glass sheets. Whilst they suit buildings like greenhouses, they do not work so well on household roofs due to staining and potential algae build-up.
GRP (Glass Reinforced Plastic) Roof Sheets
GRP roof sheets or roof lights are manufactured from high-grade glass-reinforced plastic, with Cladco GRP Roof Lights being 1.5mm thick for added strength and longevity. They have a resin-enriched gel coating which protects the Roof Lights from harmful UV rays whilst permitting an 80% light transmission rate. The gel also prevents moss and discolouration from occurring over time.
They are often installed on barns with livestock and other buildings that need natural daylight.
Cost: GRP Roof panels are a more expensive option when compared with polycarbonate sheets and start at roughly £44 per 2.5m. This cost is made up for in time as they are a good choice for longevity and need less maintenance than plastic roofing.
Ease of Installation: Cladco GRP Roof Lights are a versatile option and can be installed at a minimum pitch of 10 degrees, alongside a variety of other metal roof sheets. These include Corrugated and Box Profiles, and together create a seamless, metal roof.
Maintenance: Cladco glass-reinforced plastic roofing panels feature an antifungal gel layer, reducing maintenance needs for years to come.
Durability: Cladco GRP Roof Lights provide protection from high winds, heavy rainfall and harsh weather conditions. This keeps the building and its contents safe thanks to GRP's strong reinforced materials.
Aesthetics: GRP Sheets are well suited to commercial and agricultural-style projects. They would not necessarily suit the aesthetics of a home or garden shed roof due to their heavy structure and industrial appearance.
Bitumen Roof Sheets
Bitumen is a material often used for roofing sheds and small garden rooms. It is manufactured from asphalt and blended with polymerized plastic or sometimes rubber. Finally, it is reinforced with fibreglass for a flexible, waterproof membrane that can be nailed or adhered to a flat or low-sloping roof. Bitumen can be purchased as a rolled sheet, or as individually cut shingles.
Cost: Bitumen is one of the most low-cost options among both plastic and metal roofing materials, and prices start from as little as £5 per square meter. It can also be easily fitted by a non-professional with minimal tools, in turn saving on labour costs.
Ease of Installation: Most bitumen roofing sheets require very few tools to fit, and many options come with a self-adhesive layer on the underside of the sheet. This allows for an easy and quick fit. The shingle version, whilst still being easy to fit, requires a little more time and patience due to the individual tile-like elements. They need to be fitted one at a time in an overlapping method. *Please note: some bitumen sheets will need professional tools to install, such as a high heat source like a roofing torch.
Maintenance: As bitumen roofing is generally fitted on flat or low-sloping roofs, you will need to maintain them. Regularly removing and brushing away leaves and debris, especially in the autumn months is a must. If not, this can lead to a build-up of unnecessary weight on the structure of the building and cause potential damage from water puddling.
Durability: Bitumen roofing options do not last as long as some of their plastic roofing counterparts such as polycarbonate sheets. They last on average 15-20 years in normal environments. Thinner sheets are susceptible to tearing and lifting at the edges over time and so will need replacing sooner rather than later if this occurs.
Aesthetics: Often associated with garden sheds, the attractiveness of bitumen sheets is considered quite low. Ideal for use on low or flat roofs in gardens etc, they would generally not be considered a stylish option for domestic roofing projects.
Metal Roofing Materials
Cladco Profiles are the UK's leading supplier of high-quality Metal Roofing Sheets, using only premium materials for all our profiles, including 32/1000, 34/1000, 13/3 Corrugated and 41/1000 Tile Form Sheets. Cladco Metal Roofing Sheets are available in a range of coatings and colours to suit the style of any design.
Metal roofing sheets are a great option for agricultural, commercial, and industrial applications. More recently they have seen a rise in popularity on domestic builds when used as both a roofing and wall cladding material.
Box Profile Roof Sheets
32/1000 and 34/1000
Cladco 32/1000 Sheets feature 6 x 32mm high profiles across the entire sheet, which sits at a lower height than the 34/1000 profile, which features 7 x 34mm high profiles.
Cost: Sheets start at £11.40 per sheet (0.5mm thick plain galvanised) and can range in price according to the thickness and any coating that might be applied.
Ease of Installation: Box Profile Metal Roofing Sheets can be installed to a pitch of at least 4°, providing a 1m coverage when lapped. Care must be taken when installing steel roof sheets - due to their sharp edges and weight. It is recommended that at least two people are on hand to manoeuvre and carry any metal roofing material.
For more information on installing Cladco Box Profile Sheets, take a look at our helpful Guide.
Maintenance: Cladco Box Profile Roof Sheets are low-maintenance, with their ribbed profile encouraging rainwater and debris run-off, whilst improving impact resistance. If paired with a PVC Plastisol Coating, the metal sheets can be expected to last up to 40 years in the correct conditions.
Durability: Box Profile Sheets are available in either 0.7mm or 0.5mm thicknesses. 0.7mm provides more high tensile strength and 0.5mm thickness is ideal for siding or smaller projects. Both thicknesses are tested to current CE EN 14782 standards. The scratch-resistance of each sheet can be improved with the addition of protective coatings.
Aesthetics: Box Profile roofing options have always had an industrial/agricultural notion - however these days there are far more colour and coating options to choose from to help steer away from this. PVC Plastisol is available in a range of 12 colours and provides an authentic leather-grain finish to the texture. Polyester Paint is available in a selection of 5 colours and provides a glossier finish to the sheets.
Corrugated Steel Roofing Sheets
Corrugated Roof Sheets are a favoured roofing profile in both metal and other materials. Cladco 13/3 Corrugated Sheets are a popular metal roofing choice suitable for agricultural, industrial, and now more than ever - domestic applications.
Their waved profile improves structural strength whilst permitting excellent rainwater runoff. They have recently seen a surge in popularity as a cladding material on contemporary home designs - especially when black in colour.
Cost: Corrugated Roofing Sheets start at £11.40 per sheet (0.5mm plain galvanised) and can range in price according to the thickness and any coating used. For example, 0.7mm corrugated roofing sheets with a PVC plastisol skin start at £20.28 in comparison.
Ease of Installation: 13/3 Corrugated Roof Sheets by Cladco can be fitted to a minimum pitch of 10° and provide a 1-metre coverage when lapped. Care must be taken when installing metal sheets - due to their sharp edges and weight. It is recommended that at least two people are on hand to manoeuvre and carry any roofing panels. For more information and further guidance, take a look at our Guide.
Maintenance: Cladco Corrugated Roof Sheets are low-maintenance, with their curved profile encouraging rainwater and debris run-off whilst improving impact resistance. If paired with PVC Plastisol, the metal sheets can be expected to last up to 40 years in the correct conditions.
Durability: 13/3 Corrugated Sheets are available in either 0.7mm or 0.5mm thicknesses, with 0.7 providing high tensile strength and 0.5mm being ideal for siding. Both thicknesses are tested to current CE EN 14782 standards. Durability can be improved with the addition of protective coatings.
Aesthetics: Corrugated roofing options have always had an agricultural association. Now, however, roof styles are easy to update thanks to a selection of coatings and colours to suit. PVC Plastisol is available in a range of 12 colours and provides an authentic leather-grain finish to the texture of the sheet. Polyester Paint is available in a selection of 5 colours and provides a glossier finish to the sheets.
Tile Form Sheets
Cladco Tile Form Roof Sheets are designed to replicate the look of traditional roof tiles. Applied in large panels, they are a great way to achieve a traditional look to the design of your building and are developed to last.
Cost: Tile effect metal roofing sheets are a more expensive option in the grand scheme of metal roofing options. This is because their unique profile requires extra attention during the manufacturing process. The prelaq mica glaze is also a premium option which extends the quality of the roof, and the cost.
Ease of Installation: When compared with the other roof options, Tile Form Sheets require extra care during installation. You may need a professional to fit it if you are uncertain or inexperienced. For some additional advice, take a look at our Installing Guide here.
Maintenance: Due to the nature of the waved profile of the sheets, they will need to be maintained by brushing any debris that may be sitting on the roof regularly. Apart from this, tile effect sheets do not need replacing regularly if one tile becomes damaged or dislodged.
Durability: Tile effect metal roofing sheets are manufactured with a prelaq mica coating. This improves the structure of the sheet, making them more durable and improving wear and weather resistance.
Aesthetics: Tile effect sheets are an appealing option for those needing a new roof for their domestic project. This is becuase of their similarities to clay shingles and tiles. Available in Copper Brown, Graphite Grey and Black, there is a suitable colour for homes, garden rooms and summerhouses alike.