Pros and Cons of Roofing in the South West

The south west is home to some of the most iconic heritage buildings in the country, and thus comes a huge responsibility and need for skills required to conserve and protect our rich history. There’s a variety of slating systems in the West Country, such as common, rag, scantle and sized. You’ll find vernacular slate roofs widespread, in Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Dorset, due to their variety of advantages and the important role they play in giving the character of settlements, individual towns and villages their sense of place. Mainly, this is because of the material, but also the variety of colours, textures and sizes, as well as the way they are laid and detailed.

Historically, the systems used for slating in the south west were simply reflective of their area and their counties quarries. Perhaps one of the main problems in roofing in recent years has been the lack of understanding in traditional systems and detailing. Rag and scantle roofs are common in east Cornwall and west Devon. Scantle slating can be dry-laid or wet-laid – tail bedded in mortar. Wet laying is employed in the more exposed areas of west Cornwall and dry in the more sheltered Devon and at sheltered locations within the predominately wet-laid areas. Whereas, common slating such as large mounter slates where the eaves with small slates are laid in thirds over the rest of the slope was a medieval style and such roofs are now in decline. It was mainly due to late 17th century, where quarries began supplying slates as finished products.  Rather, today the most frequently used type of slate roofing for new building is sized slates, used throughout the south west.

One of the main advantages of slating, is it offers a very natural look and can be laid in a variety of patterns.  It has a long lifecycle, requires little maintenance and has good fire protection. However, of course, slating is a more expensive option and can be heavy, needing extra support. Also, with a lack of professional knowledge, if rooftop maintenance is undertaken such as gutter cleaning and painting, it can be broken easily from walking on top, and hence there is a need for skilled experts in the field. Not only is slating important in local features, it really is distinctive to certain areas, take the use of large rag slates at the roof verge and eaves in the South Hams district of Devon for example. Therefore, it is important that the details of roofs are documented before the slating is stripped and that the information is retained for when the re-slating is carried out; ensuring craft techniques are kindled.

Furthermore, clay roofing tiles is a popular choice, providing a modern, clean look but also a long lifespan. Tiles don’t rot, or harmed by insects, doesn’t need much maintenance and can be tailored to your housing or building design, coming in a variety of colours, styles and brands. However, with some new modern designs, coloured tiles often fade over time, since it is only coloured on the surface of the tile. Clay tiles also can be a little more complicated to lay than other roofing materials and more expensive, though with so many styles, their resistant to physical impact damages and resistance to fire they seem an obvious choice for many. Click here for more information https://www.spab.org.uk/downloads/West%20Country%20Slate%202.pdf

Ultimately, slating and tiling techniques in the south west are unique, though with the right skills and knowledge, professional roofing can be carried out ensuring buildings are reflective of their surroundings, giving them sense of place. With over 19 years of experience we offer slate repair and replacement, new roof installation, pitched and flat roofs repairs, so feel free to get in contact with us; no job is too big or small for Exeter Roofing!

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