The diversity of building materials used in the south west of England – from cob-walled cottages to red-brick new builds – certainly gives the region a distinct atmosphere that blends traditions of the old world and the modernity of today. For those in the area with the opportunity to fit a new roof to a property, after overcoming issues such as Article 4 Directions and whether the building is listed, they may well be in a position to choose from a range of roofing materials. This article offers a short guide to some possible options.
When driving around south west England, Slate will likely be the most abundant roofing material seen. Although slate is more expensive compared to a number of modern materials, it is also very durable and if well-maintained can last for around 100 years. Additionally, slate is popular due to its aesthetic appeal – and the fact that it is often more in-keeping with the style of buildings not built within the last 20 years. It is also available in a variety of shades and from a range of international sources.
Scantle (sometimes known as ‘wet lay’) roofing is most popular in northern parts of Cornwall and some areas of Devon. The specific style of roofing is derived from the traditional use of slate off-cuts meaning that roofers would use slates of varying sizes and a mortar mix for added protection. This method meant that scantle roofs are some of the most long-lasting available (sometimes beyond 100 years) and over the past 2 decades have been coming back into fashion for homeowners eager to invest in a traditional and durable roof. Scantle and wet lay roofing is a specialist skill and is subsequently more expensive than other materials.
In rural areas thatched roofing is often seen on cottages dating back hundreds of years. Similar to Scantle roofing, it is not uncommon for older houses which may have had a slate roof for some years, to then be given the traditional treatment and be returned to thatch. In Devon and Cornwall, experienced thatchers are not rare, but the skill is a specialist one and the work takes considerable work and time. Subsequently thatched roofing is expensive and requires some upkeep. Additionally, thatched roofing is rarely as durable and long-lasting as slate or tile.
Depending on your budget and council restrictions, there may be further options for roofing your property. Aside from newer materials such as asphalt shingle or concrete, red tile materials in the ‘monk and nun’ or ‘imbrex and tegula’ might be preferable choice due to its durability and aesthetic appeal. Wood shingle is also a viable roofing material in some areas and can be seen to give a newer property a distinct look.