When it comes to building or renovating a home, many people fail to investigate the options surrounding roofing. When you think about it, the appearance of a home is greatly affected by its roofline and the products used on the roof. Depending on the design of the home, the roof can dominate the street appearance.
In Australia the two major roof products are steel roofs and roof tiles. Both have the strengths and weaknesses. In recent years, steel roofs has emerged as the clear leader in the market. However there is a new product which is set to shake up the market. It is Tractile, an innovative roofing product that compares favourably with metal sheeting and roof tiles.
Firstly, let’s deal with aesthetics. All three offer a wide range of colours. Roof tiles and Tractile also offer a diverse range of different profiles, shapes and sizes. Metal sheeting does not.Another area where metal sheeting falls down relates to the push towards smart-roofing (roofing that incorporates solar electricity, solar hot water etc). The design of both the traditional roof tiles and Tractile allow solar products to be integrated into the architectural design. In fact the Tractile product range includes a number of Roofing Integrated Photovolaic (RIPV) options that are specifically designed to seamlessly match into the roof’s architecture without impacting
on its appearance and the roof’ integrity.
With roofing tiles, there are also a number of companies that offer RIPV products that can match selected roof tile profiles. Unfortunately for metal sheeting options, there are no RIPV products on the market yet that perfectly integrate with it.
Owners of metal sheeting roofs are largely forced to install solar devices on top the roof surface, which often does not produce attractive result.
Next, let’s deal with cost. Metal sheeting is the clear winner in this category with roof tiles in second place. Tractile is the most expensive but the makers argue it’s a case of “you get what you pay for”.
Now let’s look at practicalities. The primary job of a roof to keep the elements out -includes rain, hail and snow – in all sorts of conditions. If installed correctly, metal roofs, roof tiles and Tractile all do this basic job very well. However, in extreme conditions the products perform substantially differently.
When it comes to impact resistance, Tractile is the clear winner. Tractile products are rated for impacts of 100 Joules. A 100 Joules impact is equal to being hit with a 68 millimetre hailstones (a tennis ball has diameter of 67mm), or hitting the tile with a 1kilogram hammer at 14meter per second (normal speed for a 1 kg hammer to hit objects is 8 to 12m/s). At this level roof tiles crack and break while metal sheeting is dented.
For those living Cyclone or storm regions, the new product is also the winner. Tractile is engineered to withstand wind speeds of over 300km per hour (Category 5 Tropical Cyclone). Certain metal choices will allow the roof to withstand wind gusts up to 255km per hour while roof tiles are able to achieve similar results if they installed the correct way. .
Tractile is also very light. One Tractile Roof Tile is six times larger than a concrete tile and weighs 8kg versus 4-5kg for a single concrete tile. This equates to a weight of 12kg per square metre for Tractile versus 40-50kg per square metre for concrete roof tiles.
In terms of live loads (ie people walking on a roof) Tractile is again is the winner. It is engineered to withstand live loads between battens in excess of 250kg. In comparison the other roofing materials break or deform at 60kg-100kg. This was confirmed by the Co-operative Research Centre for Advanced Composite Structures. (Report No: CRC-ACS TM 09099)
In terms of sustainability, Tractile significantly outperforms concrete tiles and metal sheet roofing. The Queensland Government’s Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI), found in its “Composites: Calculating their Embodied Study” report that in terms of “Primary Energy Consumption”:
- Tractile is 8 times more sustainable than concrete and steel. In terms of greenhouse gas emissions
- Tractile is 4.5 times more sustainable than concrete and steel. In terms of total environmental impact:
- Tractile is 5 times more sustainable than concrete and steel.
All three of these roofing products have their advantages and have a place in the market. However, it is clear that Tractile, while it is the most expensive products out of the three, is the best performing roofing solution and provides architects, builders and home owners with another serious roofing option to consider.