In southeast Queensland, wind can be sudden and powerful. Summer storms catch us off guard every year, and the consequences can be devastating for your home, particularly your roof, as it bears the brunt of extreme weather.
If you’re building in southeast Queensland, or even replacing your existing roof, you’ll need to turn your mind to the best roofing for high wind areas. However, roofing is technical and designs vary from one house to another. And that doesn’t even take into account the different materials on offer!
Matching a wind-resistant roof with your dream design can take a lot of work, so it’s important that you know what is involved.
Withstanding extreme weather events
To understand what goes into the most durable and windproof roofing, we need look no further than the windiest parts of Australia: the top end. The tropics are calm most of the time, but when cyclones carve across Northern Australia, they can whip up gusts of 300kph and cause unimaginable destruction.
So how do the roofs hold on? All it takes is a simple tie down rod. Tie down rods were introduced after the destruction of cyclone Tracy, and are essentially steel rods that run from the roof into the walls of a home, and down into its foundations, “tying” the roof down. They’re best suited to Queenslander-style homes with traditional steel roofing, but they have been adapted to suit a range of different roofing designs.
The most common roofing materials include tiles and corrugated steel, which are both strong and durable options. However, high wind sets them apart. Provided the roof design is sound, both will stand up to wind without any major issues. But it’s not always the wind itself that is an issue; more often, it’s the debris blown by the wind that causes all the damage. In most cases, steel will withstand the impact of flying debris more robustly than roofing tiles do, because roofing tiles are more brittle and prone to cracking, chipping, and even dislodging. But when it comes to repair, steel is going to be more expensive. When you need to repair a steel roof, you often need to lift entire sheets to replace them, which is difficult and time consuming. Tiled roofing, on the other hand, can be repaired with the simple replacement of damaged tiles. Of course, once you choose your material you will need to turn your mind to questions of base metal thickness and roof profile, and that’s going to involve some expert input.
Picking the right structure for your roof is about more than just wind—you’ve got visual appeal, price, and practicality to consider. However, your roof does need to be fit for purpose, so you’re going to have to give some serious thought to the sorts of winds your house is likely to encounter, and how well it can withstand them. As a general rule, gable roofing does not perform as well under high wind conditions as more modern alternatives.
The best roof for high wind areas is, in fact, a roof that incorporates several different slopes. A hip roof is one example, and it utilises four varying slopes to disperse wind pressure more evenly, rather than absorbing too much sustained pressure like gable roofs do. The advantages of hip roofs go beyond wind resistance alone. They also look great, and they lend a modern edge to houses of all ages and designs. The hip structure works well with steel and tiles, too, provided it’s designed with those materials in mind.
So why are gable roofs still the dominant design? It’s simple: price. The downside to hip roofs and variably sloped roofs is that they require an extra level of design, which means more money and more time.
Roofing brands rarely market themselves based on wind resistance, so it’s not easy to pick the best roofing brands for high wind areas without a bit of inside knowledge. Our advice would be to find a roofing company that installs BlueScope steel. BlueScope is at the top of Australia’s steel manufacturing industry, and they offer some of the most durable roofing materials on the market. In fact, BlueScope materials go into other well-known products, such as ColorBond. Another is Zincalume, which combines aluminium, zinc, and silicon components to create a lower-cost and corrosion-resistant roofing material. There are plenty of reliable brands on the Australia roofing market—it’s just a matter of picking one that suits you.
But don’t let that lull you into a false sense of security—picking a good brand is only half the battle. Once you’ve chosen a reliable roofing company, you need to ensure that the materials are well installed and properly designed to suit whatever wind is likely to come your way. Roofing is a multidisciplinary job, and it requires input from industry experts from start to finish.
Gradual roof pitch
Roof shaping is all about picking the pitch, and the best pitch for high wind areas is not too low, but not too high. That’s why hip roofs are such an effective design to withstand wind; their variable angles create a gentle but prominent pitch that allows wind pressure to disperse more evenly. However, if you’re prepared to think outside the box a little then you can find the ultimate high wind roof shape: the arch. Gentle arches are a fantastic roofing shape for high wind areas, so long as they’re designed properly. They’re very complex to design, build, and install, so even if your roof won’t blow away, your budget probably will, but it could be worth it in the long run. The way in which the curve on an arch disperses wind is highly effective, although you do need to design the aspect of your house carefully so that the flat end of the arch is not subject to winds that are too extreme.
Not all high wind areas are the same, and it’s important to recognise that your high wind home might face vastly different problems to a high wind home a hundred kilometres away. Take beachfront homes, for example. Strong sea breezes bring salty sea spray and that’s just as much a problem as the wind itself. Salt is the sworn enemy of ferrous metals, and steel falls squarely within that category. Of course, high quality materials like BlueScope are designed to withstand rust. But for harsh environments you can go one step further by choosing products like ColorBond Ultra, which incorporates BlueScope steel with a thick protective coating to keep rust at bay for longer.
Sooner or later, though, rust will take hold in a coastal environment. If you pick a high quality material for a high wind coastal area then you may get ten or twenty years out of your roof – or maybe more – but eventually it will fall victim to the insidious spread of rust. And once it starts, it doesn’t stop in a hurry. That’s why a lot of coastal homes opt for tiled roofing, which works on two levels. Because beachfront homes are normally surrounded by little in the way of debris, there’s less for strong winds to blow into your tiles and damage them.
Roof maintenance is important, but when you do it yourself, there are plenty of safety issues that arise. And when you’re doing it in an area prone to high winds, those safety issues multiply. That’s why we always recommend that you get all roof maintenance done by a professional. However, if you’re intent on maintaining your own roof in a high wind area, you should choose a design and material that is hardy, easy to maintain, and, ultimately, requires you to spend less time on the roof and more time with your feet on solid ground.
Again, tiles and steel are likely to be your best options, along with hip or skillion roofs for ease of access. But it’s important to remember that neither offer the best surface for walking on. Corrugated steel is uneven and it can be slippery. Tiles are also uneven, and broken tiles can dislodge beneath your feet and cause you to fall. That’s even more likely in high wind areas, where tile damage occurs more frequently.
Best roof designs for high wind areas
So, after all that, what takes the crown for best high wind roofing? There’s no right or wrong answer, but if you want to look at the most versatile option it would have to be a steel hip roof. There may be some situations in which an alternative would perform better, but when you take into account price, performance, aesthetic appeal, and versatility, the steel hip roof is leagues ahead. If it’s not what you had in mind for your dream build, then try thinking out of the box – you might just come up with the perfect roofing option for your high wind home.