The Self Build Self Help Site roof design

A one-stop shop of information for people interested in self build - whether self building a complete home or undertaking an extension, renovation or modification.

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roof design

Roof material (pitched roofs)

Slates or tiles are the common options but there are other options such as thatch, wooden/plastic shingles (see Alternate Materials). Again some local authorities will state their requirement in their design brief. Below are some notes on the different types of slate/tiles and suppliers of the different types can be found from the National Federation of Roofing Contractors site , although you will find other local suppliers in addition to the list they provide. The most common options for pitched roofing material:

Natural Slate

A real slate roof does look good - especially in comparison with the common option of smooth fibre cement slates. The commonly available real slates in the UK are, roughly in order of cost (but the costs tend to change) :-

When ordering any of these, you may be asked if you want grade A or B. The difference is usually in the uniformity of thickness. For example grade A may have a variance of 4-5mm and grade B a variance of 4-6mm. A variance of 4 to 6mm will make it much harder to present a "clean" looking roof and you/the roofer may well have to grade (separate into similar thicknesses) the slates yourself before laying (and if you do this, put the thicker to the eaves, the thinner to the ridge).

Click on the photos for a larger view


As grade B are usually substantially cheaper it is well worth visiting the stockist to have a look.

We recently bought grade B Canadians as their uniformity was very good - see photos. We had a very simple job of selecting the very few thicker slates as we took them onto the roof.

photo of grade B slates
photo of grade B slates

And these may come in different colour, e.g. grey or purple, so be prepared as to what you want.

When calculating the number of real slates, take into account their size (smaller than synthetic) - usually 20" * 10" with, approximately, a 210mm batten gauge.

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