03 Aug 2023

Creating Cooler Roofs: The Antidote to Summer Heatwaves?

As rising temperatures and record-breaking heatwaves become more frequent in the UK, Nick Fisher, Director of Sales and Customer Service from home and self-build online retail destination Good Build Superstore, looks at some of the ‘cool’ roofing materials that are available to help create comfortable conditions all year round.


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We all know that a poorly-designed and -constructed roof can be a weak spot in the building envelope, allowing heat to escape and fuel bills to rise. While our initial concerns might be around heat retention during colder winters, it’s not the only environmental issue we have to contend with. The 2021 report from the Committee on Climate Change also highlighted the risk of overheating in terms of damaging effects on both wellbeing and the structural integrity of buildings.

With rising temperatures and hotter spells becoming more frequent, there is a very real need to keep buildings warm in the winter and cool in the summer. Here are just a few ideas on how to keep your cool on your next project.

Consider your covering

A cooler roof is essentially one that will better reflect sunlight and absorb less heat. Choosing lighter-coloured roofing materials is a good place to start, but other materials that work well in high temperatures are clay and terracotta tiles. These materials will reflect rather than absorb heat from the sun and are widely used in warmer climates – the Latin meaning of terracotta itself is ‘baked earth’.

Metal roofing materials can also help reflect heat, even when specified in dark colours, which is why they are so often chosen for large commercial projects. They can work well on residential schemes, too, although the higher cost and noise from heavy rainfall can be an issue.

Flat roofs on sheds, garages and outbuildings are also likely to absorb heat, making them hot and stuffy when the temperature starts to rise. A quick and easy fix on bituminous roofs is the use of solar reflective paint, which not only reduces heat gain but provides a robust waterproof finish.

Reflect on your insulation choice

Insulation is usually top of the list when the aim is to reduce heat loss, but it can also play an important role in reducing overheating. In much the same way as insulation prevents heat from escaping from inside a property, insulation also acts as a barrier to prevent the heat from the sun from penetrating the roof. This is particularly important in loft conversions, where spaces can become unbearably hot. Multifoil insulation is a good choice as it is both highly reflective and efficient, helping to keep the interior cool and comfortable.

A greener way

Not only will the right type of insulation help in heat regulation, but you’ll also experience environmental benefits. Good-quality, well-maintained loft insulation will help reduce your carbon footprint as well as remove the need for air conditioning units and, therefore, potential chemicals being released into the atmosphere.

For even more eco-friendly benefits, you can explore insulation materials created from recycled materials, such as plastic bottles, or natural alternatives, like sheep’s wool or hemp.

Embrace nature

As well as helping to reduce overheating, you can also save energy in more ways than one by choosing a roofing material that has been specifically designed to work in sunny conditions. As effective as solar roofing panels can be in generating sustainable energy, excessive heat can actually reduce performance, and they aren’t really intended to have any cooling effect. Green nature roofs, on the other hand, can significantly help reduce heat gain on individual properties. By covering a roof with plants and flowers, the surface is naturally shaded and, as well as reflecting light, the vegetation helps to retain moisture from rainwater. By choosing the right combination of plants, a green roof can also provide thermal efficiency in the winter months and good acoustic insulation, but it’s important to keep it hydrated to prevent it from drying out and dying in prolonged hot or dry periods.

Letting the light in

With loft conversions and extensions on the rise as people look to make the most of their usable living space, so is the use of rooflights and skylights. Often, loft spaces are already highly insulated, so one of the biggest concerns lies in installing roof lights in a converted space which could lead to overheating.

Fortunately, there are a number of solutions available to help reduce overheating, including the use of blackout blinds, shutters and special awnings, which can prevent the build up of heat on glass. Such features can also limit the glare from the sun, which is an important consideration if the room is to be used as a home office, for example.

There are also different types of glazing available that can aid climate control, and professional advice can be sought around energy efficiency and compliance with the relevant Building Regulations.

Rising temperatures don’t have to lead to rising stress levels or costs as long as you keep a cool head. At Good Build Superstore, we offer a wide range of roofing products and accessories and a knowledgeable customer service team who are on hand to help with all aspects of a project from start to finish, whatever the weather.

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