Looking for an environmentally friendly roof option for your shed? Here are the pros and cons of 4 DIY shed roof options.
This post is part of a series of posts on our shabin (shed+cabin) build. You can find all of the posts here.
A DIY Shed Roof
The nice thing about buying property in the fall was that we had all winter to plan what we were going to build. While most of our time was focused on the structure and shape of our shabin, we also thought about the finishing, in particular the roof.
We had three goals for our roof:
- DIY: We needed to be able to install the shabin roof ourselves, otherwise we would have to pay for a roofer to come to the Island. A difficult and expensive option for such a small roof.
- Rain catchment: Rainwater collection was pretty important because it was on an off-grid property. So our roofing choice needed to be non-toxic and good for water collection.
- Eco-friendly: We also really wanted an environmentally-friendly roof.
With a small project like a shed, tiny home, or shabin, you may be able to get your roofing cheap or even free. Look online for people giving away their leftover materials.
There are lots of different roofing options available. Whatever option you choose, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and specs for installation. It’s also important to use the recommended underlayment.
Here are the 4 main options that we considered with a few pros and cons for each option.
Most homes and sheds in my neighborhood have asphalt shingles. They are pretty much the go-to choice for roofing.
- They are so ubiquitous that you probably can get them for free from someone else’s building site. And even if you have to buy them, they are pretty cheap.
- Fairly easy to install.
- They absorb heat. So not a good option if you’re concerned about the heat in the summer.
- Not environmentally friendly as they can’t be recycled.
Cedar shingles are a beautiful and eco-friendly roof option, however, they do require a bit of extra TLC. To ensure their longevity you need to clean and treat the shingles every five to seven years.
- Fairly easy to install.
- The most environmentally friendly roofing option.
- Not entirely waterproof (so the sub-roofing becomes more important).
- Cedar shingles cannot be used for water catchment. They absorb too much water and are often treated with fire retardants.
There are a few types of tiled roofs: clay tiles, concrete tiles, or slate (which is not officially a tile, but similar enough for this round-up). None of these are very common in the Pacific Northwest; however, most roofs in Ireland were slate tiles.
- Really long-lasting. As long as they don’t crack, they can last up to 75 years or more.
- Very heavy. You need to make sure your structure and underlayment can support the weight.
- The tiles are expensive and you’ll need to hire someone to do the installation for you. They are not a DIY-friendly option.
- You can safely collect water off of a tiled roof, however, it can absorb water, reducing the amount you’ll be able to collect.
We chose to use metal roofing on both our outhouse and shabin. It really was the easiest and most environmentally friendly option for our needs. For our outhouse, we used cheap, off-the-shelf hardware store roofing. We special ordered a better gauge of roofing for our shabin.
Note: Not all metal roofing is ideal for water catchment. It’s important to avoid lead, copper, and certain galvanized roofing that can leach zinc. If you aren’t sure, have a water sample tested prior to setting up a catchment system.
- Easy to clean.
- Very durable: the average lifespan is 50 years.
- Can be used on a low-slope roof.
- Really easy to install.
- Reflects heat.
- Great for water collection (see the note above).
- Environmentally friendly as metal roofs can be recycled.
- Can be noisy in the rain (though it hasn’t bothered us).
- Doesn’t hold in heat like other roofing options.