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What is Polycarbonate Roofing?

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Polycarbonate is a type of thermoplastic material. It is strong, moldable, shatterproof and lightweight and can withstand a high range of temperatures. Polycarbonate is used for a variety of industrial and commercial applications, including residential roofing. Two types of polycarbonate roofing exist: clear polycarbonate roofing and foam back polycarbonate roofing.

Clear Polycarbonate Roofing

Clear or lightly tinted polycarbonate roofing is used for applications that would normally use glass or acrylic. Common colors include clear, smoky grey and white. Clear polycarbonate roofing is often used in greenhouses, solariums, skylights, sun rooms, patio rooms and other specialty rooms where natural light needs to be let in through the roof. Most polycarbonate roofing panels also have a protective film layer to filter out UV rays from the sun.

One manufacturer has come with an innovative type of clear polycarbonate roofing product. It contains aerogel insulation, which is a gel like thermal insulation material. This polycarbonate product is designed to be used just like a traditional glass or plastic skylight. The special insulation keeps the sun’s heat out, but allows the natural, filtered light in. This type of energy efficient polycarbonate product keeps the room at a constant temperature without any excess energy gain or loss.

Foam back Polycarbonate Roofing

Foam backed polycarbonate roofing is used for more traditional purposes and is not translucent. This type of roofing comes in a variety of colors, and looks like corrugated metal roofing sheets. However, unlike metal, polycarbonate roofing panels do not rust. Colors vary, but colors like red, gray and green are quite common. The foam backing provides extra insulation and noise dampening.

Foam backed polycarbonate roofing is a lightweight and inexpensive option for roofing. Normally, this type of polycarbonate roofing is used mainly for industrial buildings like warehouses. However, many homeowners use it for flat or slightly sloped roofs for porches, pergolas, sheds, carports, storage barns, and other small residential buildings. Most warranties for polycarbonate roofing are between 10 or 20 years, but some companies offer lifetime product warranties as well.

Additional Advice

Different polycarbonate roofing products also have different features and warranties, so it’s important to find the right one for your project. Although installing polycarbonate roofing seems fairly straightforward, hiring a professional roofer can help avoid any potential roofing disasters.

For example, this type of lightweight roofing cannot be walked on. Also, using the wrong fasteners or not putting enough space between roofing panels may cause cracking. Installing the polycarbonate roofing panels properly is critical to avoid voiding the product warranty.

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