If it’s cold, there could be mould!

Chris Cooke
Chris Cooke

Chris Cooke, director of Prefix Systems, looks at the potential pitfalls of installing cold roofs, which can result in condensation, mould or even a failing roof structurally. Lengthy product remedials and a fall in referrals are a real-life problem too, he adds.

None of us in the roofing sector could envisage the way in which the solid roof market has grown from an embryonic segment into a genuine and consistent revenue stream for many.

The replacement conservatory market which is estimated to be in excess of two million installations is part of this, but so too are new installations, as the sector finally gets into the space of the single-story extension market.

We are getting an increase in enquiries from trade companies and consumers about replacing an existing tiled roof. From the consumer’s perspective, some have already had a replacement conservatory roof from polycarbonate to glass and now onto a solid roof, which in turn are at risked of being replaced with a fourth roof.

But while the trade sector is well versed in conservatory and glazed extension systems, the roofing sector, while aligned, isn’t as broadly published within the industry press.

Put simply, there are two types of solid roof. Acknowledged as the best standard for roof construction in the UK and indeed for local authority building inspectors, a ‘warm roof’ enjoys insulation above the rafters and therefore can ensure that no moisture migrates further down the structure.

It’s for this reason that Prefix Systems developed the award-winning ‘Warmroof.’

Conversely, a cold roof is one that’s been designed with insulation in between the rafters often using timber cassettes, that in some instances don’t even fit snuggly in between the roof spars. In this instance, cold and moisture can and does migrate into the main chassis of the roof and once this is prevalent within the roof space, it will form condensation as the cold air hits the warm air underneath.

This form of condensation can occur for nine months of the year (Google search ‘dew points’) and so moisture migration can happen for months on end and notably, we’re seeing this happen at an alarming rate on some installations.

The industry needs to be mindful of the roofs that are being marketed as ‘warm’ as many are indeed cold and a further search of ‘cold roof vs warm roof’ from the wider construction sector will quickly provide independent evidence. Alternatively email us or tag us on social media and we’ll happily help out.

At the point of sale, a consumer’s expectation is that they will either re-discover a lost room thanks to a roof replacement project or on a grander scale, enjoy a complete extension to the home. Either way, expectations are high for roof solutions that will provide lasting performance, much like a project from a well-respected builder.

As an industry, we’re at risk of hampering growth in the solid roof sector unless we specify true ‘warm roofs’ right from the outset. While tiles roofs can look similar from the outside, without a keen eye, it’s what’s underneath that will count and will affect the longevity of the project. Fit a ‘warm roof’ and there’s the re-assurance that what you can’t see will provide lasting performance for decades as any building inspector will concur.

The risk of installing a ‘cold roof’ is considerable and it’s why all of the building and construction sector don’t adopt it. The real-life threat of condensation, emergence of mould and even rotting timbers over time is already beginning to hamper our solid roof sector, so our standpoint is that as an industry we must solely rely on true ‘warm roof’ construction.

The failure to adopt this accepted standard could result in millions of pounds of remedial work and a distinct lack of care to trade partners and consumers with roofs that could be deemed not fit for purpose right from the outset.

To conclude, if anyone’s in any doubt, a ‘warm roof’ enjoys full insulation above the roof spars and not solely reliant on loosely fitting cassettes in between. So, let’s adopt the only accepted roof construction as laid out by the construction sector from here on in and make mouldy roof replacements a thing of the past.