The Insulation Qualities of Different Types of Roofing Materials

With energy prices continuously rising, it’s never been more important to have an energy-efficient home and that means using every possible tool to keep the heat in.

In the UK, keeping a warm home during the colder months is the biggest priority and the roof of a house plays a very pivotal role in the process.

Approximately 25% of the energy of a house is said to escape through the roof so by ensuring you have proper insulation, as well as the right roofing materials, you can make a very real different to the warmth of your home.

There are a wide range of different roof materials to pick from; here’s how they all compare when it comes to their insulation qualities.

Composite shingles

A very affordable type of roofing, they are low maintenance and easy to install and are one of the most popular choices.

However, this isn’t an eco-friendly option as they are based on petroleum and are often taken to landfill sites. This problem is heightened by the fact they are not particularly durable either.

Another problem is that they require a very precise temperature range when they are being installed. If it is too hot, the shingles can become too pliable which means they are liable to become damaged as they are handled; if the weather is too cold, they won’t reach the required degree of elasticity and a proper seal will not be formed.

This sensitivities means that composite shingle roofs are often liable to get blown off during high winds.

Asphalt roofing doesn’t insulate the home to any great degree, and hasn’t been shown to have any qualities which help conserve heat during colder weather.

Single ply membrane

An increasingly popular choice of roofing, a single ply membrane is incredibly durable with a long life span of optimum performance.

One of the biggest benefits is that they are easy to install and don’t require complex tools or naked flames. A hot air gun and adhesive is typically all that is requires, which allows the materials to bond quickly, forming a weatherproof and watertight seal.

Because the seal is so effective on a single ply membrane, they offer superior sound insulation as well as heat preserving qualities, and as they are reflective, they can also help to keep a house cool during the warmer months.

A single ply membrane can operate in a wide range of temperature extremes once installed, including in very hot weather. It won’t lift, blister or degrade in higher temperatures which means than when it turns cold, you will still have an intact weatherproof system. This is in direct contrast to materials such as asphalt where cracking and splitting often occurs when the temperature rises.

If you are considering a green roof (see below), a single ply membrane makes an excellent base, heightening the insulation effects even further.

Green roofs

A fairly modern initiative, green roofs don’t just provide a welcome relief from rows of drab greys, browns and blacks; they also have a number of practical benefits when compared to other roofing materials.

Laid on top of a waterproof membrane, a green roof involves grass, plants and other living materials which grow to create a decorative yet functional barrier between the elements and the roof structure.

Green roofs are renowned for vastly reduced the risk of flooding by reducing the amount of water which reaches the roof, acting as a sponge to soak up the rain. This has the effect of preventing so much water running down the walls, which in turn can help to keep the cold out.

Green roofs can also act as an external layer of insulation, keeping the house warm in colder weather as their temperature is more constant.  This extra insulation can also improve the sound proofing too, helping to keep the home quieter.


Whilst traditional roof materials such as asphalt and composite shingles remain very popular, they have a habit of degrading or performing poorly in colder climates. Single ply membranes or even green roofs are the choice of many professionals and can deliver significant heat conversation qualities for homes in colder weather.


Image credits: Coolstock and Phototouring

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