The Benefits of Insulated Roof Panels
There are many ways to tackle the problem of building or renovating a roof, not least of which is choosing the type of roofing you want. Aesthetics play a significant part, of course, but most would agree that the insulation is almost as important as the roofing itself. One solution to this dilemma is to bring your roofing and insulation together into one product.
Insulated roof panels are a cost-effective and convenient way to get the insulation you need from your roof, significantly cutting down on the labour that goes into building a roof. When weighing up insulated roof panels against separate insulation and roofing solutions, it can often seem a little too good to be true. Keep reading, and we will layout all of the main advantages to insulated roof panels so you can decide for yourself.
What is an Insulated Roof Panel
Insulated roof panels are panels that combine the weather-protection of a standard roofing solution with high insulative properties into one product. These roofing panels can be installed in much the same way that a regular roofing panel is, and come in a range of styles to suit different applications and aesthetic preferences.
It is also possible to get structural insulated roof panels, which combine the above properties with strength suitable for structural use, further reducing the need for other elements in your roof materials.
How are Insulated Roof Panels Different?
A typical roofing design will involve the framework, insulation, roof decking, membranes, and the roofing method of choice, such as shingles, or corrugated panels. This is effective, but it involves a lot of work in carrying out each individual element.
Insulated roof panels combine most of the above elements into one product, making it easier and faster to install. What is more; insulated roof panels can often be more effective than doing each part separately, since roof insulation can be become damaged, be installed incorrectly, or even just have a poor insulation rating compared to the insulated roof panels.
Of course, every situation is different, but it is entirely possible that you could opt for a traditional roofing system and not only end up spending more money and having the work take longer, but also find yourself with a final product that is inferior to what it would have been with insulated roof panels.
What Are the Main Advantages of Insulated Roof Panels?
Knowing what they are and what the difference between them and regular roofing is might be interesting information, but, ultimately, the thing most people want to know is why they should go with this system over the conventional way of doing things. To help illustrate that point, we’ve picked out five key points that show why insulated roof panels are a compelling option.
Ease of Installation
We’ve talked above about the many different parts that go into a conventional roofing system. Separate insulation, membranes, decking—it all adds time and costs to a roofing job.
With insulated roof panels, the different components of a conventional roof are reduced to a single product that can be attached directly to the roof framing, which has the desirable effect of reducing the time it takes to make the roof, the cost spent on materials, and generally makes the installation of the said roof much easier than it would have been.
Part of the design of insulated roof panels includes overlaps. In short, the panels are designed to interlock with each other to produce a seamless roof surface. While there will always be problem areas that need extra attention—such as around vents and chimneys—this system of overlaps means that there is often no additional work necessary along the joins between two panels.
The actual cost of insulated roof panels, when compared to buying all the different roofing components individually, may not always work out cheaper—it largely depends on the type of roof, the amount of insulation needed, and any deals you might be able to get at the time. That being said, when pricing up any job, it is important to look at more than just the initial cost of buying the product.
For one thing, as we mentioned above, there is much less time and labour involved in installing this type of roof solution, which will bring the cost of the overall project down. Furthermore, there are long-term savings to factor in. Insulated panels offer excellent insulative properties which, granted, can be matched by regular roof insulation, but insulated panels are less susceptible to issues that would reduce their effectiveness.
For example, certain types of roof insulation react poorly to water, losing some of their insulative capacity. This in and of itself would be a big enough issue, but certain types of insulation are permanently damaged by water, meaning once they have gotten wet, they are forever less effective. If your roof develops a slight leak, or your roof ventilation system isn’t up to the task and moisture develops in your attic, you could find yourself needing to replace your roof insulation, thus writing off any savings you might have made in the initial roof build.
Standard roof insulation doesn’t need to get wet in order to lose its insulative capacity, unfortunately. The material naturally degrades over time, becoming less effective and, eventually, warranting replacement. The exact lifespan of your average roof insulation varies, but it is recommended that it be replaced every fifteen years or so.
In contrast, one of the leading brands in the insulated roofing panel game—Kingspan—guarantee that their roof panels will last the lifetime of the building. Granted, there are caveats to this guarantee, such as the panels not being damaged, and that they are properly installed to the standards set out by Kingspan. But all of these caveats would apply to a traditional roofing system also. And, even if you did install the roofing the conventional way and do everything perfectly, you would still have to replace the insulation eventually.
Roof panels offer a greater degree of flexibility than many other roofing systems thanks to the fact that they are inherently structural, and can be cut to shape. Granted, there are some situations where insulated roof panels are not ideal, such as a curved roof, but for more conventional roof shapes, it’s hard to beat the convenience of an insulated roofing panel.
The panels come in a huge variety of styles to suit your preference. They are typically finished with metal; however, they can be painted however you like. Many manufacturers powder coat their panels for a longer-lasting, more durable finish, but that doesn’t mean you can’t paint over that finish to get the style you want.
While the insulation inside insulated roof panels may still be susceptible to losing some of its insulative capacity if it gets exposed to moisture (something that won’t happen if the panels do not get damaged), it should not come under attack things like mould, mildew, and fungi, which is another problem that some types of conventional roof insulation can face.
The materials used in the construction of these panels result in insulation that is naturally resistant to these things, which is useful both from the perspective of the health of the roof panels and the health of the people in the building.
Bonus Advantage: Safer
As we’ve mentioned, these panels are often considered to be structurally sounds, with many variants being referred to as SIPs (structural insulated panel). This makes a roof built with this kind of panel a little safer to work on than a roof with tiles, as the tiles can break or come loose underfoot. Still, anyone climbing on your roof should be a professional who knows what they are doing, but tiles can represent a danger to non-professionals in some circumstances.
If a tiled roof has been allowed to fall into disrepair, or it has been subjected to extreme weather, the tiles can be worked loose and fall from the roof. Now, the chances of a tile not only falling from your roof but doing so in the exact place you or any other person happens to be standing is very slim. In fact, it will probably never happen. But with insulated roofing panels, it will definitely never happen because there are no tiles to fall off!
Of course, other types of non-tiled roofing have this advantage also, but then you still have all the other benefits we have mentioned.
Insulated roof panels aren’t some miracle product that makes all of the problems associated with building a new roof go away. They still need to be installed correctly, they are not cheap compared to conventional roofing materials, and they do need some maintenance over time.
That being said, when you weigh up all of the advantages of this kind of roofing material compared to the more conventional ways of doing it, it can become very difficult to make a compelling argument for not using insulated roofing panels. Ultimately, the only major mark against the panels is that you cannot install aesthetically pleasing options like slate tiles on them. But even then there are panel options that produce a similar effect to tiled roofing.