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Conservatory Roof Options

There used to be a time several years ago when a conservatory had to have a glazed roof; the only options were single glazing, very rudimentary double glazing or polycarbonate panels. This often created a conservatory which was far too hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter because none of these materials are thermally efficient. But now - there are lots of conservatory roof options available. 

Fast forward into the 21st century and now there are lots of options available for your conservatory roof whether you are going to for a new build or refurbishing an older design.

Conservatory Roof Replacement

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Conservatory roof options

The reason why the choice of roof material is so important is that most of the temperature control both in terms of solar gain and heat loss occurs through the conservatory roof.

Choose from new glazing products which have the following features:-

  • Thermal efficiency which resolves all of the problems experienced with older style conservatories creating a pleasant ambient temperature all year round.  This is achieved by using energy-efficient e-glass which provides a high level of insulation and reduces the amount of heat that is transferred through the glass from your home to the outside world
  • Solar glass which helps to regulate the amount of solar gain coming into the conservatory on very warm and sunny days
  • Tinted options which are barely discernible but can help reduce the glare on grey days
  • There are self-cleaning glass products which feature a special coating that reacts with the UV rays in sunlight – this is called a photocatalytic process.  This loosens and breaks down organic dirt particles on the surface of the glass.  The surface of the coating is also hydrophilic which means it attracts water to form droplets which then join together to form a thin layer that sheets away quickly and then dries without leaving unsightly water marks or spots
  • Noise reducing glass which can lower external sounds by around 75% reducing the noise from heavy rainfall, traffic sounds and disturbance from adjacent buildings

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Solid tile roof

In 2010, the regulations were relaxed on what constitutes a conservatory roof and it became possible for conservatories not to have fully glazed roofs and still retain their classification as a conservatory.  The reason why this is important is because subject to certain criteria, conservatories do not usually require planning permission.

Now it is possible to have a part glazed or solid roof using a range of different materials.  Mixing clear glazed and solid panels can offer the best of both worlds as far as some homeowners are concerned; you can keep as much or as little light as you want and retain that classic  conservatory look and feel without having to manage a fully glazed roof.

Popular at the moment is the fully tiled conservatory roof option which can be achieved using a range of lightweight materials in different colours and textures which look like real slates or tiles.  They can be chosen to contrast with or complement the roof on the main house and because they are next generation, they are a fraction of the weight of the real thing so you shouldn’t need to upgrade your conservatory frame as a result.

Changing your conservatory roof substantially in this way could trigger an application for planning permission but probably only if you have a listed home or house in a conservation area.  You may also need building regulation approval which many people don’t realise; this is different to planning permission and can become relevant because of the significant change to the roof.  It may be helpful to use a local conservatory company or installer as they will be familiar with the building control officer’s views in the area on this as there is an element of interpretation.

Insulation panels

If you have an older style conservatory and are struggling with icy temperatures and condensation in the winter and a greenhouse effect in the summer then you could insulate your existing roof reasonably cheaply with insulation panels which effectively solve these issues and will give you a solid roof finish.

Roof lights and Velux windows

Whatever type of conservatory roof you opt for, it is possible to include roof lights or Velux windows which can be electrically operated for ease and allow you to improve ventilation and fresh air.  The Velux range is very sophisticated with rain sensitive systems which will automatically close if you have gone out and forgotten.

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What are the factors you should take into account when choosing a conservatory roof?

Every conservatory is different but there are issues and problems which are common to all.  Here are some factors to consider which may help you when it comes to choosing the right roofing material for your conservatory whether it is a refurbishment project or a new build:-

  • Do you want the real conservatory feel and aesthetic with a fully glazed roof?  Although this can look the part, you will need to use proper thermal efficient glass otherwise the room can become unusable at certain times of year due to extremes of temperature and fabrics and furnishings will be damaged by UV fade
  • Is your conservatory overlooked by other houses or buildings?  A part glazed or solid tile roof can help with privacy issues
  • If your location is noisy then noise reducing glass can create a calm and peaceful environment
  • Is your conservatory near trees and will this make the glass difficult to clean?  You might be better off with a solid tile roof
  • What is your budget?  If the sky's the limit then why not opt for a lantern roof feature or atrium and integrated LED lighting?
  • Do you want your conservatory to retain a conservatory feel or do you prefer the look of a solid tile roof which gives the appearance of an extension to the home rather than a separate building?
  • What do you intend to use the conservatory for?  Is it to be an occasional room to relax in or has it been pressed into service during lockdown as a home office, study area or dining room?
  • Is your house listed or located in a conservation area in which case there could be restrictions on the roofing options available to you and you may also require planning permission

Listed home and properties in conservation areas

If your home is listed then you may be restricted in your choice of roofing materials even though your conservatory is not listed.  Likewise, if you live in a property within a conservation area then you may be limited in your roofing options.  In both of these scenarios, it is important that the property is true to its age and original design and in keeping with the houses which surround it.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best choice of roofing material for a conservatory roof?

There is no one single answer to this as it very much depends upon personal preference and taste however, if you use modern materials then you can’t really go wrong in terms of thermal efficiency to create a usable and welcoming conservatory.

If I need building regulations approval for my new conservatory roof, do I also need planning permission?

Building regulations approval and planning permission are two completely different things.  There are some conservatories which may need both planning permission and building regulations approval but every building is different and so don’t assume because one is required then the other automatically follows.  If you have any doubts, then speak to your local council.  A good conservatory installer should be able to guide you based on their own installation experience and knowledge of the local area.

Will a new roof on my conservatory increase the value of my property?

A new roof using next generation materials can really increase the kerb appeal of your home to prospective buyers.  This is because savvy buyers know that conservatories can have thermal regulation issues unless the correct materials are used.

Are some conservatory roof options better than others when it comes to reducing energy bills?

Because older style conservatory roofs were so thermally inefficient, it was often necessary to employ extra heating in the winter months just to get the conservatory to room temperature.  In the summer the problem was reversed and air-conditioning units and fan heaters were often the only way to lower an unbearably hot conservatory.  As long as you use new thermally efficient glazing products then you should find your old energy bills significantly reduced not least because you won’t lose all the heat in the winter months or need cooling equipment in the summer due to solar gain.  Use heaters and coolers can impact significantly on your utility bills.  A solid tile roof will have the same effect rather as if you were building an extension.

Can you fit solar panels to a conservatory roof?

In theory yes although if you need planning permission then you will need to clarify this.  They might be self-defeating if you are after a particular look but there are now solar tiles and slates available which can harvest natural sunlight.  These are heavier than the lightweight materials currently being used on conservatory roofs so it could mean that the frame of the building will need to be upgraded.

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