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Tiny House Roof Materials Explained (3 Common Types)

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There are a few main options for building materials when it comes to your tiny house roof.

These are:

  1. Metal roofing
  2. Shingles
  3. Ceramic tiles

You can also turn your rooftop into a green space and incorporate a tiny house rooftop deck.

In this article, we’ll explain each of these tiny house roof material options, as well as cover their pros and cons.

Tiny house roof material options

1. Metal roofing

Metal roofs are one of the most popular types of tiny house roof materials. It provides a cost-effective and secure way to protect your roof framing.

The two most popular metal panels available are standing seam and screw-down panel.

A standing seam encompasses metal panels with vertical ribs at the edge.

To install this type of roof, you overlap the sheets and interlock the edges of adjacent panels. A standing system has hidden fastener points, which allow you to attach the roof to the deck without exposing the fastener point.

Metal tiny house roof material

Standing seam metal roof is an excellent option for durability; it is one of the best roofs for handling strong winds.

In addition, this tiny house roof material provides longevity and will last for around 50 years. And you have an array of colors to choose from to suit your tiny home.

However, this is one of the most expensive roofing options, and its aesthetic is not to everyone’s taste. You will have to make a special order, and it can be challenging to install on a complex roof. If you hire someone else to install the roof, it increases your costs even further.

A screw-down panel is secured with screws and washers through the face of the metal.

One of the main problems with this installation method is that it prevents effective thermal movement.

For this reason alone, screw-down paneling isn’t the best option for any heated living space.

There are many metal options available, including aluminum and copper, but Steel comes in top thanks to its strength and rust-proof qualities.

If you want a metal roof, steel roofing panels are one of the best, most durable, and affordable options.

2. Shingles

Shingles are a popular choice of roofing material thanks to their low cost and ease of purchase.

This is a widely available tiny house roof material that suits every budget and is easy to install; plus, they have a decent level of durability.

But, there are a couple of significant concerns with shingles.

The first is that they don’t hold well in bad weather; strong winds can dislodge the shingles from your roof and have them blow down the street.

Plus, they are bulky and heavy with a weight of 2.5-4lbs per square foot, you cannot use them on low slope roofs, and they’re prone to staining.

Shingles come in a range of materials, the most popular being asphalt.

But this tiny house roof material is unsuitable for extreme hot or cold temperatures as these weather conditions will cause the shingles to crack. In addition, this is not an environmentally friendly option.

Firstly, the shingles are non-recyclable, and secondly, they waste a lot of energy during production.

Singles offer an attractive design with a range of colors, plus they allow sufficient airflow for thermal roof venting.

But they require expertise on installation and are not fully interlocking.

3. Ceramic tiles

Ceramic tiles are made from concrete, slate, clay, or terracotta.

This type of roof can provide your home with a distinctive look and is an incredibly durable tiny house roof material.

Once installed, these tiles can withstand external fires, high winds, and hail.

They have low maintenance needs as they are protected against rotting, leaks, and insect damage.

Ceramic Roof Material for Tiny House Roofs

The original production of these tiles involved mixed milled clay with water, sand, and other additives. This composition would be shaped in custom-made molds, later fired in a kiln—a process which created durable and fire resistant tiles in a distinct earthy brown or red hue.

Today, many other natural tones are available through unglazed terracotta. This can be a popular option that provides more choices to suit the look of your tiny home.

But if you’re using unglazed, you must treat them with a glaze or sealant to avoid mold or water staining.

Another option for creating a range of colors while maintaining the properties of the original design is to add dye during the initial process.

When the dye is blended with the glaze before it undergoes a second firing, the product is water and stainproof tile in your unique choice of color.

Ceramic roofing tiles are suitable for homes that have a sharp slope, situated away from anything heavy. If a large tree branch or other weighty object lands directly on your roof, it could provide enough force to crack the tiles.

Careful placement allows ceramic tiles to channel water downwards, but this style is not recommended for roofs with a pitch that is less than 4:12

Ceramic tiles are heavy and expensive; they can be a complex product to install. Due to their weight, these tiles are best on foundational tiny homes and not so great for lightweight homes designed for easy movement.

The high mass of these tiles captures and holds thermal heat, and you face the risk of collapse during an internal house fire.

4. Living roof

For a unique and sustainable roof design, you could opt for a “living roof,” which gives you your own garden on top of your tiny house roof. Adding this feature to your home allows you to make use of every inch of space and can attract wildlife such as local birds for you to enjoy.

People who are passionate about the environment may want to use this type of roofing to create a biophilic design for their tiny home. Biophilic design understands that we evolved as a species for 99% of our history thanks to our adaptive responses to the natural world, not due to human creations or artificial forces.

Now that our “natural habitat” lies in architecture, biophilic designers aim to connect nature into our built homes. A biophilic design should focus on the elements of the natural world that contribute to human health and wellbeing, such as natural lighting and ventilation.

A living roof allows you to utilize rainwater and grow extra food; plus, it can add to the overall insulation of your home. This type of installation appeals to environmentally conscious people thanks to several green factors.

It can absorb the pollution surrounding your home, decreasing the risk of health issues for your family. It improves the surrounding air quality as the plants remove carbon dioxide from the air and replace it with oxygen.

One of the most significant factors of a living roof is energy efficiency, which is good for the climate and your wallet.

With ample natural lighting and tiny house roof insulation, there is less of a need for artificial sources of power and less of an impact on your monthly bills.

This roof can reduce noise pollution from outside your home and add an element of natural beauty to your abode.

But, a living roof requires strong structural support that considers the additional weight. And you need to install suitable waterproofing and drainage into your tiny home.

It possesses much higher maintenance needs than other roofing systems as you must constantly cultivate your plants for them to be a practical investment.

Plant roots can penetrate your roof membrane and lead to structural damage, and proper installation can be more costly than other options (between $10-$40 per square foot). The increased initial cost will be offset by the savings you make in the long run. 

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