Understanding Roofing Systems


During the construction or refurbishment of a property, it is so important that the building envelope is strong and able to protect the property for years to come. This requires a sturdy facade, as well as strong foundational elements like floors, walls, windows, and of course, no building will survive without a strong roof.

This is why the roof is considered to be one of the most critical elements of any property. From the shape to the materials, you need to get this right, and the best way to do this is to develop your understanding of roofing systems.

That is why we’ve created this guide. Below, we’ll take a look in more detail at the different types of roofing systems out there and the components that make these up. We’ll also address some of the common issues you could face if you opt for the wrong system or if it is not installed correctly.

The most common roofing problems

When done properly, your roof should serve as a barrier between the interior and exterior of your home. It protects against bad weather like rain and snow, as well as keeps you safe from falling branches and debris. It is also there to regulate the climate inside, keeping the cold out and the heat in where required.

While all of this might seem kind of obvious, the type of roofing system you choose can impact how effectively your roof is able to carry out these functions. Some of the most common problems you could face include:

  • Leaks – Though these tend to be from valleys, eaves, chimneys and vents rather than in the middle of the roof. These can also be caused by damage to the roof from external influences like a tree falling on your property
  • Moss growth or discolouration – As well as moss, this can be due to algae or mildew growth
  • Curling at the edges or losing mineral surface – Shingle sheets like asphalt can begin to curl and cause issues as they reach the end of their life

The shape of your roof

There are several different types of roofing systems, but before we get onto these, let’s quickly look at the different shapes you could choose from.

These range from flat to A-framed gabled roofs, though every roof is slightly sloped to allow water to run off. Even flat roofs will have decks and gutters with a slight pitch to help drain away the water as quickly and effectively as possible.

Typically, the more sloped the roof, the quicker and more effectively the water will drain away. If left too long or if the water begins to pool, it can damage the roof and start to crack or leak through available gaps.

The different roofing systems

We’ll now look in more detail at the different roofing systems and which might be more beneficial for your property and budget.


While this is one of the earliest roofing systems, and it can be very aesthetically pleasing, thatched roofs require more expensive specialist care. What’s more, they require more regular maintenance, such as cleaning and tightening throughout the year.


Another older roofing system is slate. While this is still available today and, again, can look great on your property, there are lots of new, lighter materials out there now that can mimic this finish.

This is because slate is heavy and requires a bigger slope to ensure the water drains away quickly, as it is less waterproof than other solutions.


While traditional clay roofing tiles are still in use, it is now much easier and often more budget-friendly to choose tiles in contemporary material such as coated metals and thermal plastics. This makes them lighter and easier to install.


There are several metals you can choose from when it comes to roofing, including copper, steel and aluminium. Metal can be a more affordable option, and providing it is coated correctly for corrosion resistance, it is also very durable.

Asphalt shingles

Asphalt shingles are thin sheets of almost rubber-like materials that have been designed to look like other popular roofing materials like clay or stone. These can be nailed down to the roof or stuck on with the correct adhesive.

Shingles are often better for flatter roofs, though these require bigger sheets with fewer joints to decrease the chance of a leak.

Which roofing system is right for you?

There is no right or wrong when it comes to your roof, though some systems are going to be better than others depending on the size and shape of your property, what you want the final look to be and, of course, your budget.

Ultimately, it’s best to seek professional advice and make sure you choose the system that is going to look the best but also give you maximum protection from the elements.