Fibreglass roofing, a popular and cost-effective option for many homeowners, has garnered attention for its lightweight nature and relatively easy installation. However, it’s crucial to be aware of potential drawbacks.
UV degradation, susceptibility to cracking and brittleness, its potential for fading and discoloration, are just some of the material’s disadvantages. Fibreglass roofing is also harder to maintain and repair compared to conventional options.
Before deciding whether this is the right material for you, here are some potential disadvantages that you should weigh out.
1. Susceptibility To Cracking And Brittleness
Fibreglass roofing is made from glass fibres embedded in a resin matrix, creating a lightweight, strong, and water-resistant material.
The manufacturing process involves melting glass and drawing it into fibres, which are then coated with a resin to form panels or shingles.
The composition and manufacturing process can contribute to the roofing’s vulnerability to cracking and brittleness over time, especially when exposed to certain environmental factors such as UV radiation and fluctuating temperatures.
Proper installation and protective coatings can help protect your fibreglass roof from the harmful effects of the elements and prolong its lifespan.
2. Potential For UV Degradation
As mentioned, fibreglass roofing is made from a combination of glass fibres and resin. While the glass fibres provide strength and rigidity, the resin binds them together, creating a solid material.
However, the resin used in fibreglass roofing is not entirely resistant to UV radiation. Prolonged exposure to sunlight can cause the resin bonds to break down, weakening the overall structure of the roofing material.
Some of the most common signs of UV degradation include increased flexibility of the roofing panels, discolouration, and surface cracks.
Applying a UV-resistant coating to the surface of the fibreglass roofing can help block UV rays and slow down the degradation process.
3. Limited Resistance To Extreme Weather Conditions
Beyond UV rays, fibreglass roofing is also susceptible to other weather elements. Extreme conditions such as heavy rain, hail, strong winds, and snow, can pose serious challenges to this material.
For instance, fibreglass roofing may be prone to cracking or breaking under the impact of hailstones or torrential rain. While it is generally waterproof, any existing cracks or weak points can lead to leaks and water damage.
High winds can cause uplift and place stress on the roofing, potentially leading to cracks or detachment. The material also can struggle under the weight of heavy snow and ice accumulation. The added weight may lead to deformation, cracking, or even collapse, especially in areas with a higher risk of snow and ice.
Even with proper installation and maintenance, these limitations still exist. This is why you should opt for an alternative roofing material if you live in areas prone to very harsh weather.
4. Poor Performance In Fluctuating Temperatures
Another notable drawback of fibreglass roofing is its poor performance in fluctuating temperatures.
Like many materials, fibreglass expands when heated and contracts when cooled. Frequent temperature fluctuations can cause the material to undergo cycles of expansion and contraction, which can lead to stress and potential damage such as cracks or warping.
Fibreglass roofing may become more brittle in extremely cold temperatures, increasing its vulnerability to cracking or shattering under impact or pressure.
Higher-quality fibreglass materials and regular maintenance can minimise the impact of temperature on this roofing type.
5. Difficulty In Identifying And Repairing Leaks
As explained, fibreglass roofing consists of glass fibres embedded in a resin matrix, creating a strong yet lightweight material. However, its composition can make leak detection challenging.
This material is prone to developing small, hairline cracks, which can be difficult to spot with the naked eye. These cracks may allow water to seep in, causing leaks that are hard to pinpoint.
This happens because the water entering a crack or hole in fibreglass roofing can travel along the internal structure before reaching the interior of the home.
Even when identified, these leaks can be hard to repair due to poor material compatibility.
6. Cost And Availability Of Specialised Repair Materials
Fibreglass is not the most popular roofing material. Hence, the availability of specialised repair materials is scarce, and their cost is high.
That said, a few materials you can use to repair this type of roofing include:
- Fibreglass patches: These are sheets of fibreglass material that can be cut to size and applied over damaged areas to reinforce and seal the roof.
- Specialised sealants: Certain sealants are specifically designed for use with fibreglass roofing and can be used to seal small cracks or joints.
7. Higher Potential For DIY Repair Mistakes
Unlike more common roofing materials such as asphalt shingles, which can often be easily repaired with simple tools and materials, fibreglass roofing repairs involve working with unique materials like resin, catalysts, and fibreglass patches.
The lack of familiarity with these materials and the techniques involved can lead to mistakes during the repair process.
Using incorrect or incompatible materials can lead to further damage or even compromise the integrity of the entire roof. Attempting DIY repairs without being aware of the specific materials needed for fixing fibreglass roofing increases the risk of (costly) mistakes.
8. Limited Style And Colour Options
Fibreglass roofing is primarily available in a corrugated or flat panel design. This limited range of styles can be a disadvantage for homeowners looking for more variety or a unique aesthetic for their home.
You will also have to settle for a narrower range of colours compared to other roofing materials. While some manufacturers may offer a selection of basic hues, these options may not be as diverse or vibrant as those available for materials like asphalt shingles or metal roofing.
As the roof is a significant visual element of a house, the limited style and colour options of fibreglass roofing may impact the overall curb appeal of your home.
9. Incompatibility With Certain Architectural Styles
As explained, the choice of roofing can significantly impact the overall aesthetic and harmony of a home’s architecture.
Some roofing materials naturally complement specific architectural styles, while others may clash or detract from the desired appearance.
Fibreglass roofing, with its limited style and colour options, may not be the ideal choice for traditional or rustic homes. Local councils may also prohibit the use of materials that can negatively impact a building’s aesthetics in some areas.
10. Potential For Fading And Discolouration
Another disadvantage of fibreglass is the material’s susceptibility to fading and discolouration. UV damage is the main culprit, but discolouration can also happen for other reasons.
The natural ageing process will cause the material to fade over time. Moisture and debris trapped on the roof can create a favourable environment for algae and mould growth. These organisms can cause staining and discolouration on the surface of the fibreglass roofing.
Some fibreglass roofing panels also may have inconsistencies in their composition or colour application, resulting in uneven discolouration over time.
11. Energy Efficiency Concerns
Fibreglass roofing, while lightweight and durable, does not offer the same insulation properties as other roofing materials.
The lack of insulation can result in increased heat transfer, making it harder for a home to maintain a consistent temperature.
This could lead to increased energy consumption for heating and cooling, ultimately raising energy bills for homeowners.
12. Environmental Impact
Fibreglass roofing, while offering some benefits, also presents certain environmental concerns.
The production of fibreglass materials involves the use of energy-intensive processes, including the melting of glass fibres and the application of various chemicals and resins.
These processes can contribute to greenhouse gas emissions, as well as air and water pollution. Additionally, the extraction of raw materials for the production of fibreglass can have a negative impact on ecosystems and local environments.
Fibreglass materials are more challenging to recycle compared to other roofing options, such as metal or some types of asphalt shingles.
This limited recyclability means that once a fibreglass roof reaches the end of its lifespan, it is more likely to end up in a landfill, contributing to waste accumulation and environmental degradation.
13. Installation Difficulties
Whether you’re an expert or not, fibreglass roofing is difficult to install. High winds, rain, or extreme temperatures may affect the integrity of the material or the adhesive used to bond panels together.
Installation should ideally take place under favourable weather conditions to ensure a successful outcome and avoid complications.
The panels must be correctly sealed and fastened to prevent water intrusion and ensure the material’s durability. This process can be more complicated than installing other roofing materials, as it requires careful attention to detail, particularly around joints, seams, and fasteners.
For these reasons, this material requires professional installation, which can drive costs up compared to other roofing types.
14. Costly Compared To Alternative Materials
When compared to traditional roofing materials, such as shingles, fibreglass roofing is expensive. While the material itself is often cheaper, the cost of installation labour and maintenance make it a costly choice in the long run.
15. Potential Negative Impact On Property Value
Lastly, fibreglass roofing can have a negative impact on your property value.
These panels are not as visually appealing as other options like wood shakes, clay tiles, or slate. This lack of aesthetic appeal can negatively impact a property’s perceived value and curb appeal, particularly for potential buyers with specific design preferences.
Despite its durability, fibreglass roofing may also be perceived as a lower-quality option compared to other roofing materials. This perception can further lead to a lower property value. Buyers who prioritise energy efficiency and long-term cost savings may view the presence of a fibreglass roof as a drawback.
Moreover, the susceptibility to weather can lead to increased costs of property insurance, another factor that can impact on your property’s value.
Fibreglass roofing, while offering some benefits such as affordability, lightweight nature, and resistance to corrosion, also presents several disadvantages that you should take into account.
These disadvantages include susceptibility to cracking and brittleness, potential for UV degradation, limited resistance to extreme weather conditions, poor performance in fluctuating temperatures, difficulty in identifying and repairing leaks, and higher potential for DIY repair mistakes, to name just a few.
While some of these drawbacks can be mitigated with proper maintenance and the selection of high-quality materials, it’s essential to assess your specific needs and preferences when determining if fibreglass roofing is the right choice for your home.