How to Protect Your Roof Against Sun Damage

The Summer months in Australia are great – days outside, trips to the beach and barbeques with friends and family.

Have you ever thought about the toll that the intense sunshine can take on your home and roofing?

High temperatures and strong glare can really affect homes both inside and outside.

What Role Does the Roof Play?

Your roof is probably the most important feature of your home, offering shelter throughout the year.

However, during periods of intense sunshine your roof will be taking in heat and radiating it throughout the house.

Heat will pass to lower floors, which get heated up and the heat transfers to the slab below. This continues all the way until the heat reaches the ground, which is an insulator.

Warming up your house like this means that you then have to spend money on air conditioning or cooling systems which can contribute to high energy bills.

Did you know that on a hot day, the surface temperature of a traditional roof can be over 10 degrees more than the surrounding air temperature?

What Type of Roof Do You Have?

The type of roof you have will dictate how you can best help to protect it from the strong heat of the Australian summer.

  • Concrete Roofing: Concrete is a common material (especially for industrial buildings) and there are several ways of helping to keep concrete roofs cool.

These can include applying a white coating to them rather than grey or black – this means that a large percentage of the solar energy will be returned to the atmosphere rather than absorbed.

You can also install plants on concrete roofs potted in mud to help absorb heat.

  • Metal Roofing: we’ve all experienced times when we’ve touched a metal slide or seating that is simply too hot to use. Metal roofing can get extremely hot but there are various ways to cool it.

As well as standard white coatings (which will help keep metal roofs cooler) there are new developments in glass paint which has the advantage of bouncing sunlight off and also not degrading in UV light.

This generally lasts longer than polymer based coatings.

If you live in a home with a metal roof you may want to also seriously consider upgrading your attic insulation to prevent as much heat entering the home as possible. 

  • Shingle Roofing

If you have shingle roofing and live in a warm climate, you should definitely consider covering your roof with solar panels. These transform energy that you are then able to use rather than simply returning it to the atmosphere.

Solar panels have also been found to reduce atmospheric heat and don’t have some of the negative effects that white roofs do.

When installing solar panels on roofing, always make sure you invest in good quality flashing that can also withstand intense sunlight.

How Do Other Countries Keep Roofs Cool in Summer?

Interestingly, in some countries which have very high temperatures for a prolonged period of time, people have developed ways of keeping roofs cool.

These range from ranges of paint specifically designed for roofs to Solar panels with extra features.

One of the most effective ways is seen often in countries such as India where layers of straw are stacked on the terraces. Straw is a natural insulator of heat.

What Are the Effects of Sun Damage on Roofs?

Most people are aware that weather conditions such as snow, wind and heavy rain are a cause for concern with their roof, many people underestimate the danger of UV radiation.

What are the effects of UV rays on your roof?

On asphalt shingles the UV rays can actually affect the chemical make up of them, causing premature breakdown of the material. The shingles become brittle and prone to cracking.

The other danger with intense heat is that the materials used for roofs will expand during the day and then contract at night when the temperatures have dropped.

This is called thermal shock and is a process that can actually weaken the structure of a roof over time.

Keeping An Eye Out

Sadly it’s pretty tough to protect your roof entirely from the sun. Always seek to be as well prepared as possible and ensure that preventative measures are always in place by the Spring before temperatures really increase.

One of the most crucial things that you can do is to simply keep an eye out. If you notice any damage at all to your roof (look for cracks, signs of warping etc) then you should always seek professional help immediately. Getting help quickly could help to avoid much more serious issues developing long term.

If you want to know how to get prepared for each season, why not stay one step ahead and have a look at our guide to Autumn preparations?