About Metal Roofs


There is something about the sight of dampness on the ceiling that sends my blood pressure soaring. We had spots of roof leaks in various parts of the penthouse and they caused me no end of worry. Of course, the management committee fixed every spot because it is responsible for all roof leaks in penthouses. But it was a hassle still.

There is something third world-ish and forlorn about staying in a place that lets water in when it rains. Think a beggar dressed in rags crouching by a straw bed in the squalor of an abandoned buddhist temple with a hole in the roof and water dripping through. One cannot feel safe and warm when the roof threatens to pour a deluge. Maybe that is why cavemen lodged in caves, where the roof is as thick and strong as the whole mountain cradling the cave to its bosom.

It was for this reason that I requested for a industrial metal roof with double density heat insulation and an added cement board layer. The new house is much cooler than my penthouse on hot days. Metal roofs come in a few designs. The Klip-Lok design is what is commonly seen in the HDB industrial estates. It is also the most robust and leak proof of all the roof profiles... and is the cheapest. See picture here.

The very reason that makes the Klip-Lok is ugly is the very reason that it is robust against leaks. The seams (i.e., the ridges) are double interlocked and therefore offer added protection against leaks. But because they are double interlocked, they are also thicker. Roof workers can stand on these thick seams without fear of damaging the roof, and over time the double interlocking joints these Klip-Lok roofs wear better. When I did my research on roofs, a reputable roofing specialist explained that Select Seam (the most popular metal roof for residential houses) tends to spring some leaks after 5 years because the seams overlap only once, instead of twice. See picture here.

So how does Klip-Lok compare to tiled roofs? My clerk-of-works explained that tiled roofs tend to get brittle over the years, and when you send workers up there to do maintenance on whatever... the tiles can crack. Also, each tile is smaller than each sheet of metal roof. There are thus more joints. These joints are not sealed. A tiled roof works by channelling the flow of water from one tile to the next so that water does not drop through. However, if the roof pitch is too gentle, the flow of water moves downwards across tiles slowly and could overflow into the gaps between the tiles and leak into your house. I was told that a tiled roof should not be less than 30 degrees in pitch, whilst a metal roof can be pitched at 7 degrees only. It seems too, that in Australia, Klip-Lok is used often for residential properties. The notion that the Klip-Lok roof is a cheap factory roof seems to be a cultural bias specific to Singapore.

I'm trying to comfort myself with the thought that it's not WHAT you wear baby, it's HOW you wear it. I am hoping that my house can wear the Klip-Lok in a manner that would make it look good.


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