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Best roof colour? Not about taste...

By Awal Mohammed | June 7th 2021
Roofs painted with earthly colours showed more resistance to fading and gloss over time compared to those painted with other colours. [File, Standard]

Colour often is associated with an individual’s choice but when it comes to your house’s roof, experts say it is not about your taste anymore, but durability.

A study commissioned by the University of Nairobi on corrosion of roofing materials showed that the colour used determines how fast the roof fades.

The study found that roofs painted with earthly colours showed more resistance to fading and gloss over time compared to those painted with other colours. 

“Accelerated tests for blue pre-painted sheets...gave the second lowest fade of 4.41 and 0.03 Hunters units while gloss was–14.4 and 0.3 per cent,” the study said.

Fade refers to visual total colour difference that comprises of lightness, chroma and hue of a coating. It is used as a measure of the quality of a pre-painted roofing sheet.

Gloss refers to the ability of a surface to reflect light without scattering and helps in determining the degradation in the coating.

Mabati Rolling Mills Regional Sales Manager Harry Muchangi says it is important to seek expert advice before buying building materials.

“People import roofing materials without considering the type of environment the material is fit for,” he told Real Estate.

“Our locally available roofing materials have been made for this kind of climate, hence last longer.” 

From the University of Nairobi study, blue was found to be the best for Coast region as it decolourises slower compared to other colours.

Maroon and brown are the other colours that do well in the region. Experts advice that green should be avoided due to its high affinity for corrosion.

The most common form of corrosion of metals is the rusting when exposed to moist air.

“It is important to ensure the base metal of your roofing is not compromised and it is of the highest quality,” Mr Muchangi said.

“This will help in reducing the corrosion process of your roofing.”

According to the 2020 Economic Survey, the proportion of households with iron sheets as the main roofing material increased from 73.2 per cent in 2009 to 80.3 per cent in 2019.

Those with grass roofing declined from 13.7 per cent in 2009 to 5.1 per cent in 2019.

The adoption of better roofing materials has been attributed to improved standards of living in the last decade.

Due to its visibility, the roof to a large extent determines a building’s aesthetic value and builders are going to great lengths to use materials that stand out.

More suppliers

This has led to an increase in the number of roofing materials suppliers from four to more than 10 in the last decade, with many importing from Asian countries.

Major companies providing roofing materials include Royal Mabati, Ruiru Mabati, Jinyuan Roofing and Roofing Tiles Kenya.

Others are Ngao Roofing Systems, Dura Roofing, Rexe Roofing Products, Mabati Rolling Mills and Decra Roofing Systems.

Roofing takes up 10 to 15 per cent of total construction cost of the house, hence the market is lucrative for manufacturers.

But the cut-throat competition has given rise to substandard products that end up costing consumers more in the long run.

“Typically you are supposed to do roofing for your house twice in your lifetime, but you will find yourself repainting the roof after two years,” said Muchangi.

He says it is important to have the roof in mind when you start to build as this will help in reducing cost of construction and future expenses on repairs and maintenance.

“It is imperative to always ask for a roof installer, but if you give any fundi the job you will spend more especially on reducing leakages from the roof,” he said.

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