Roofing Myth Busting: Relative Cost Increase Vs. Cost Totality

When procuring roofing materials, taking a price-led approach per unit cost can create a false economy for a building project long-term...

Date: 2020-07-31

Author: Klober

Category: Industry Topics

Tags: Roofing Industry, Membranes, Underlays, Projects

When procuring roofing materials, taking a price-led approach per unit cost can create a false economy for a building project long-term. Pauline Manley, Marketing Director at Klober, explains how the cost totality of a project is defined by more than the up-front cost.

While keeping to budget will always be a primary objective during the building process, it is important to realise that value-engineering of products to make initial savings, will not necessarily provide greater value in the long run. For the roofing sector this is particularly pertinent given that the roof is not always front of mind. The longevity and protection that a secure, weatherproofed, and well-ventilated roofing system provides cannot be undervalued. Choosing premium roofing options to achieve this will not raise the cost of the overall build by as much as some may think, when compared to the cost totality of a project. 


Raising the Roofing Standard

A poor roofing installation with subpar products is unlikely to last a substantial amount of time. Just a quick search online will bring up far too many reports of cases where newly-installed roofs, or ones that are just a few years old, are falling apart, leaky and dangerous. A good roofing system should last for decades with routine maintenance, so it is highly concerning that so many developments are still falling short. 

If a roof does degrade prematurely, a housebuilder or roofing contractor will generally be contractually responsible to make repairs in the first year, so it is important to get it right first time. Choosing roofing products that are built to perform, and importantly not cutting corners when it comes to specifying complete roofing systems compatible with the roofing type, is what will make the difference to the overall quality and longevity.


Cost Per Unit Vs Cost Totality

The old saying ‘you get what you pay for’ does hold a grain of truth. While cheaper products can do the job, it is important to be aware that the difference between underlays is not just fiscal, but can also be vast in terms of performance. Roofing felt underlay made from fibreglass, for instance, is considered to be one of the cheapest underlay options. While it will provide the required barrier for a roofing installation, over time this material can become brittle and rot into the guttering where it has been exposed to sunlight. 

More expensive alternatives, such as breathable and non-breathable membranes, provide the essential barrier needed to protect the property from possible ventilation problems and unexpected water ingress. A breathable membrane, especially one that is both vapour and air permeable, will generally be more expensive than a non-breathable membrane. This is because breathable options have less vapour resistance than non-breathable options, so that water vapour can exit freely without the need for separate ventilation above the roofing insulation.



Over the years, membranes have become more technical and specific in design. Many manufacturers, including Klober, invest in rigorous product testing to ensure that underlays meet the requirements they claim. Products with a higher price tag often justify this with test data that promises bolstered strength and durability. By going through testing procedures, this allows products to be verified by trusted industry bodies as having the capabilities they claim to have. The National House Building Council (NHBC), for instance, will only accept certain breathable membranes without additional ventilation if they have relevant British Board of Agrément (BBA)  approval.

To put product innovation investment into perspective, when using the example of a typical 150sqm roof, this would require an average of three rolls of underlay. The average cost saving achievable for three rolls of budget underlay will only recoup a few hundred pounds at the most, in lots of cases however the saving will be dramatically less than this. In the grand scheme of the whole building project, the value of spending a fraction more to achieve better results at a cost-level of this scale makes sense. The time saving benefits of using premium products, designed with ease-of-installation as well as exceptional performance in mind, also adds further value for the installer by reducing the time spent on site. 

Not all underlay is made to suit all applications, and for low pitch roofing getting the correct underlay is so important, otherwise the roof will fail. Contractors need to be careful that membranes chosen can cater for the pitch, and choose products developed by manufacturers, such as Klober, that are suitable.

To complement the strides taken to improve membranes, significant investments have been made into the development of accessories such as membrane tapes, and this has also improved roofing performance. Some products from Klober come with double, self-adhesive strips to provide a guaranteed permanent seal of overlaps. It is important to choose wisely and recognise that not all tapes are made equally. Failure to use tapes compatible with the chosen membrane can lead to subsequent failures.


Changing Attitudes 

To continue to raise the roofing standard, it is important to carefully consider the roof and remember that the true cost is relative not only to the price, but also to the performance and how long it will last.

At Klober, we believe that it is possible to prioritise the roof and still be able to meet the project brief requirements in terms of budget and timeframe. It simply takes a shift in attitude to realise that a slightly higher investment can translate to savings in terms of time and money later down the line. It is also worth mentioning that when working with trusted manufacturers the reputation of the building contractor is protected. Should support be required, a quality manufacturer will be there to answer questions and help to facilitate the quick turnaround of requests so that the project is not delayed.      

Overall, with the help of manufacturers who continue to innovate membrane performance and target specific project applications, building and roofing contractors can be supported with the most up-to-date roofing product solutions, specification support and installation guidance.

Find out more about Klober's range of roofing Membranes HERE.

Read our blog: Introducing the Permo range of roofing membranes HERE.