January 17, 2024

Conservatory Roof – which materials are best?

Solid roofs are the best conservatory roofs, but most systems are polycarbonate or glass because these materials are cheap, readily available at builder’s yards, and let in loads of natural light. The trouble is that all that natural light comes at a cost – an uncomfortable room with poor insulation and excessive solar glare.

Sound familiar? You’re not alone – we’ve helped multiple homeowners upgrade to a solid roof to solve these problems, and it costs less than you think.  

Solid insulated roofs – the gold standard

Insulated conservatory roofs are the best because they slow winter heat loss, resist summer heat gain, and eliminate most glare.

The often-quoted downside to solid systems is they are more expensive than glass or poly roofs. Panel X solves the problem with closed-cell foam technology sandwiched between durable skins to create highly thermally efficient roof sheets. The sheets replace your glass or poly panels, so no expensive work is necessary.

Is replacement worth it? Yes, absolutely. The inner foam core keeps warmth locked inside, eliminating icy drafts and preventing overheating in the summer by blocking solar gain. Beautiful, airy spaces come from regulating temperature and humidity levels. No more sweltering in the heat or shivering in winter.

Panel X also takes panel technology to new aesthetic heights by mimicking traditional roof tiles and slates. The range of tile effect finishes removes the ‘add-on’ look prevalent with see-through glass or polycarbonate roofs.

Because the foam insulation dampens external noise pollution so effectively, Panel X roofs make your conservatory significantly quieter – perfect if you have noisy neighbours or live close to a motorway or main road.

Polycarbonate roofing – cheap and not so cheerful

Polycarbonate is the go-to budget roofing system for conservatories, featuring a multi-wall panel construction with chambers in between each wall to trap air.

These air pockets provide some insulation against hot and cold temperatures and absorb less heat from sunlight than glass. The lightweight sheets are easy for professional installers to cut and fit, so build times are minimal.  

Most poly roofs have visible signs of wear after five years, with the panels becoming discoloured and scratched through exposure to UV light and weathering. Small holes may appear, reducing the roof’s water resistance.

Though stronger grades are constantly being developed, extreme storms can still result in cracked, shattered or broken panels that need replacing. Most manufacturers provide hail damage warranties, which usually only extend to a specific size of hail stones.

Due to the short lifespan of budget polycarbonate roofing, replacements will be necessary every decade or so to maintain appearance and performance.

Glazed roofs – they only work with the correct glass

Glass roofs bring elegance and style to any conservatory with their sleek, contemporary appearance. They create bright, airy spaces that feel connected to the outdoors.

Advanced glass options like self-cleaning and solar control glazing enhance functionality. Self-cleaning glass has a coating that breaks down organic dirt through a chemical reaction from sunlight. Solar control glass incorporates a special interlayer designed to reflect and absorb heat to reduce glare and overheating.

Well-installed double-glazed units (or triple-glazing) significantly improve insulation over polycarbonate. This is because the inert gas chamber between the panes acts as an insulator against heat transfer. Although more costly initially, a good quality double-glazed roof should remain watertight for at least 20 years with proper maintenance.

Downsides of glazed roofs include noise issues during lousy weather. Rain, hail, and wind create loud drumming sounds, making conservatories unpleasant during storms. Heat gain in sunny conditions is also problematic as temperatures rapidly become uncomfortably high, and if you don’t have solar control glass, glare is a big problem.

Summing up

While polycarbonate and glass roofs may seem tempting due to lower upfront costs, they are a false economy over the long term.

Solid roofs create spaces that are genuinely liveable and enjoyable in all seasons. The sleek, contemporary appearance of systems like Panel X also delivers on aesthetics, avoiding the “add-on” look of cheaper alternatives.

Ultimately, the higher initial price tag pays dividends in usability, durability, and aesthetics over time. Rather than settling for a roof that makes your conservatory unpleasant, invest in lifelong quality from the start.