When choosing a conservatory there used to only be two options for the roof – glass or polycarbonate.
Often, the decision would come down to budget – glass costing more but seeming preferable to a plastic, poly carb roof that would have a limited lifespan.
Nowadays, though, there are extra options. Fortunately, this is one example of when having more choice is definitely a good thing.
In this post, we compare and contrast the options to help you choose the roof option that is best suited to your budget and requirements.
We will look at glass and polycarb first and then the modern option for a lightweight, solid tiled roof.
Glass Conservatory Roofs:
During the initial boom period for conservatories in the 1980s and early 1990s, glass was considered the luxury option and it is certainly a choice that has some compelling upsides. Unfortunately, there are also a few key negatives…
Glass conservatory roofs are long lasting and durable – indeed anyone who has a conservatory with a glass roof should not have to consider making any replacements or repairs for decades (subject to using a quality installer, of course).
Glass roofs might cost more than polycarb, but anyone purchasing this option can factor in that it is a roof that will last far longer and so when worked out over a lengthy time frame, the cost per year will be competitive.
Conservatories with glass roofs can look pleasant to the eye, certainly, we would argue, nicer than a poly carb roof.
Glass roofs are also the look most people would automatically think of when summoning up an image of a conservatory.
A conservatory with a glass roof can be a bold addition to a property, it does not blend in with the rest of the house but it has a striking look of its own.
Let the sun shine…
An obvious advantage of glass-roofed conservatories is that they let the light in. For many, one of the reasons they buy a conservatory is thinking ahead to summer afternoons spent relaxing, the light streaming in, watching the clouds slowly drift by (perhaps with a good book and even better glass of wine to hand).
How big a plus point letting the light in will be perhaps depends on how the homeowner expects to use the conservatory. If it is as extra space, a summer room, then it could be a large selling point, if the aim is to use the conservatory as a relatively cheap way to create a home office or similar, this might be less of a benefit.
We mentioned the cost in saying that glass is durable. The upfront cost of a conservatory with a glass roof is considerable and so will rule it out for some homeowners’ budgets.
The extra expense might be justified when compared to a polycarb roof but this is of little use if the cost is out of reach.
They don’t add value
If a conservatory is going to be expensive, the homeowner is likely to hope that this initial cost will be justified in terms of adding value to the property.
Sadly, with a glass conservatory roof this is rarely the case, this style of conservatory simply isn’t a huge selling point for any would-be buyer (and we will explain why in the next point).
It will vary by location so check with estate agents or by doing your own research on property sites such as Zoopla and Rightmove, however, as a general rule, spending thousands on a conservatory with a glass roof is unlikely to lead to an equivalent increase in the value of the property.
They are flawed
Finally, we come to the biggie and the reason why conservatories with glass roofs have suffered a drop in popularity (and why they don’t tend to add significant value to the property).
Glass is a poor material for regulating temperature and so the conservatory becomes too hot in the summer and too cold in winter to be used comfortably. In summer, the room will often become a virtual no-go zone, while in winter it requires the heating to be on continually for the room to remain at a pleasant temperature.
The inherent flaw of having a glass roof to a conservatory is why this option has dropped in popularity since the 1990s. In years past, people would be unaware of the flaws, buy a conservatory and then find out, to their disappointment, that it created a room that was unusable for much of the year. Nowadays, with internet searches so easy and information more readily available, a quick search on Google is enough to highlight the problems.
Polycarb roofs are the cheapest of all conservatory roof options. There might be downsides to having a conservatory with a polycarb roof, but for those on a tight budget they might be the only option.
It is worth factoring in that these roofs are liable to require repairing or even replacing in the future, they might be cheaper initially but when the total cost over 20 or 30 years is factored in they lose this advantage.
Polycarbonate is easy to shape and mould and so a roof can be designed to fit any style and size of conservatory.
The roofs can also be designed with varying degrees of opacity so there are options that are more suitable for those who want the conservatory purely as a summer room versus those who want a home office or study.
We are not huge fans of poly carb conservatory roofs, believing them to have a number of flaws that mean they are a poor option, regardless of their competitive pricing.
Not the prettiest.
The subjective reason first – polycarbonate roofs are, in our opinion, not the most aesthetically pleasing. Whereas a glass roof has a confident look and a solid, tiled roof can blend in with the rest of the property, poly carb roofs achieve neither. They look, dare we say it, like a cheap bolt on to the rest of the property.
Lack of durability
The roofs are not hard wearing and can be easily damaged. This is the key downside to the low initial cost, you are far more likely to have to fork out for repairs or even a replacement in years to come. There might come a feeling that it would have been better to spend more initially to get a roof that had far greater long term benefit.
Poor at regulating temperature
As with glass, polycarbonate is unable to regulate temperature and so the homeowner is left with that flawed space that is of little use for much of the year.
Fans can be added, so too conservatory blinds but there is little evidence that either does much to solve the problem (and fitted conservatory blinds can cost several thousand pounds).
A with glass, this serious flaw means that homeowners buying a conservatory are in danger of spending good money to create a room that will then be of little use. Ultimately, concerns about the aesthetic appeal, or cost of repairs matter little if the room itself has no benefit.
They don’t add value
As with glass, a conservatory with a poly carb roof is unlikely to add to the value of a house. Any clued-up buyer will be aware of the problems and they might even see the conservatory as a reason to not buy the house, a space that has little benefit and eats into what could be better used as garden.
Solid, tiled conservatory roofs
The third option is to chose a lightweight, solid, tiled conservatory roof. This option has only been available for a few years, regulatory change meaning conservatories were no longer limited to just a glass or poly carb option.
They make the room usable all year round.
This is the key benefit, whereas glass and poly carb cannot regulate temperature, a lightweight, solid tiled roof creates a conservatory that is usable all year round.
Essentially, the resultant room has the versatility of any other room and so can be used as a lounge, a home office, a games room or any other use. A flawed conservatory is turned into a room with all the benefit of a superb extension.
The roof helps the homeowner save money
With a glass or poly carb roof, the conservatory is only usable in winter with the heating on almost 24/7, and in summer with fans and other cooling methods utilised.
A tiled roof is far more energy efficient, some, such as the SupaLite system, having a U value of 0.18.
In real terms, this means energy bill savings, independent research by AECOM found that the typical homeowner wold save £200 per year if they had a tiled conservatory roof as opposed to either glass or polycarbonate.
Conservatories that have visual appeal
As the gallery shows, a conservatory with a tiled roof becomes a sympathetic addition to a property rather than looking like a bolt-on.
Tiled roofs come in a range of subtle colours and shades and can fit any conservatory.
Conservatories that add value
Creating a conservatory that has the benefits of an extension can lead to a significant increase in the property’s value, this often in excess of the cost of the conservatory.
Any potential buyer is getting a great space that they can used for a wide range of purposes rather than an addition that is of dubious benefit.
Extra expense as a replacement
Solid, tiled roofs can be installed as a replacement to an existing glass or poly carb roof, however this is obviously an additional expense and the homeowner might feel reluctant to throw further money at their flawed conservatory.
The benefit is that the tiled roof makes the conservatory usable and also leads to longer term financial benefits both in reduced energy bills and increased property value.
However, there can still be a very natural reluctance to spend more money just to fix the problems created by the initial installation.
Which conservatory roof to choose
Since regulations changed in 2010 to make lightweight, tiles roofs permissible, a number of companies have entered this market with competing products.
For the homeowner it can be confusing, which roof to choose.
At PCL, we can only talk of the roof we are proud to supply and install. The SupaLite system is the lightest replacement roof available and the roofs have guarantees of 25 years on parts and workmanship, giving true long-term peace of mind.
Ours is also a roof with building control approval and this area is taken care of for you with all relevant paperwork filed,
There is a wealth of information about the SupaLite system on this site and we would encourage you to compare it against other products.
The Verdict on Conservatory Roof Options
We come down heavily on the side of the lightweight, tiled roof because the flaws of the other options are well known and documented.
Solid, tiled conservatory roofs were developed with the specific aim of tackling these issues.
Solid, tiled roofs make conservatories what they always should have been, a cost-effective way of adding quality space to a house, space that can be used for a variety of purposes. Glass and poly carb are sold on that basis too, but, as thousands of testimonials across Google show, do not deliver.
To find out more about the SupaLite system and trusted, approved installers PCL please have a look around this site and do call us on 0800 031 5444, use our Contact Form or fill out the Free Quote tool on site.