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uPVC Roofline products are low maintenance and look good

The major benefits of replacing wooden roofline products for uPVC products are low maintenance, protection of the roof and the aesthetic qualities.

Roofline products, or rooftrim products as they are sometimes known, are the materials which fit between the brickwork on your house walls and the tiles or slates on your roof.

Most originally fitted roofline products are made of timber which requires painting every so often. It therefore makes a lot of sense to replace them with uPVC versions, just as perhaps you did with your windows and doors.

What are uPVC Roofline products?

Roofline products include soffits, fascia boards, barge boards, dry verge clips, gutters and down spouts, all of which are fitted around the line of the roof, hence Roofline.

These products have two main functions – protecting the eaves and the roof structure of properties and taking away the rainwater which falls onto the roof.

Gutters and downspouts on modern properties tend to be plastic or PVC but could equally be extruded aluminium or even cast iron on very old properties.

Soffits, fascias, barge boards and cladding however, tend to be painted softwood or very often on older properties – asbestos, which would need specialist removal.

Timber roofline products will need painting every few years just as timber windows and doors do, hence modern roofline replacement products tend to be relatively maintenance free uPVC.

Roofing Work - Illustration of Roofline Products
Illustration of Roofline Products

It Makes Sense to Install uPVC Roofline products

For most householders, fascia boards, soffits, barge boards and rainwater products on their homes go completely unnoticed most of the time.

They are however, an essential part of any property and play a vital role in protecting roof rafters and other parts of the roof space. Missing or rotten wooden fascias and soffits can permit water ingress which can damage the structure of your roof eventually.

The resulting holes can also provide an entrance for nesting birds, rodents and squirrels, which can result in further damage.

Replacing your old roofline products with new purpose-designed interlocking soffits, fascias, barge boards and rain water systems will not only enhance the appearance of your home but will also protect important parts of your roof from water ingress and pests.

New uPVC roofline products are attractive, durable, weather-resistant and almost maintenance free – a major advantage as they are in a difficult to access location.

uPVC Roofline products – Dry verges

On a traditional roof construction, roof tiles and slates on gables tend to have cement mortar pointed in between them and the top of the wall – an area referred to as the verge.

As mortar is porous it is affected by freeze / thaw cycles which causes it to crack and eventually fall out, requiring it to be pointed again. The mortar can also allow water to penetrate through to timber lathes (to which tiles are fixed) causing them to eventually rot.

A dry verge system is a series of interlocking PVCu covers for the ends of roof tiles and ridge tiles, which, when properly fixed into place will reduce water penetration and the risk of tiles being lifted in strong winds.

Dry verge systems also provide the edges of your roof with a much more attractive appearance than cracked mortar joints. Although fitting dry verges can be considered a job in its own right, there is often little point not including it as part of a full roofline refurbishment whilst the access equipment is in position.

Roofline Products - uPVC Dry Verges
uPVC Dry Verges

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Installing uPVC Roofline Products – Roof Protection

One excellent access system for roofline installation is the Easi-Dec™ Roofline Kit. This consists of a number of platforms linked securely with a catwalk to form a continuous fully-guarded platform which can be erected in less than 30 minutes.

Telescopic legs allow height adjustment in 30 mm increments and can even cope with sloping ground. A wide range of accessories are available to deal with different situations, including a corner kit enabling the easy construction of box ends, a kit to span wide windows and one to deal with dormers.

Because of the inherent dangers of working on the edge of roofs, a vital part of any roofline survey should be a risk assessment analysis to determine the types of access equipment required and the number of installers needed to carry out the work.

It may not add to the cost of any roofline installation because the job shouldn’t take as long. It will also reduce accidents and provide the homeowner with peace of mind.

Roofline Products - Roofline Access Equipment
Roofline Access Equipment

Roofline Products - Installation Process

Access equipment (not simply ladders) should be erected around the property so that the installation team can reach the various sections of the roof whilst also working safely.

Access equipment may consist of scaffolding, or more often, purpose-designed structures which provide a safe working height whilst being relatively quick and easy to erect and dismantle.

The existing down spouts and gutters are removed, including all brackets holding them to the walls of the property and to the wooden fascia boards.

All existing timber soffits, fascia boards and barge boards are removed and everything is either placed in a skip or taken away to be properly disposed of.

Not much, if anything, of the old products can be recycled so most will end up in a land fill site unfortunately and this is becoming increasingly expensive, predominantly due to tax increases.

It is important to note that installation companies should be registered as a carrier for the transfer of construction waste with the Environment Agency. A fee is payable and heavy fines can be imposed on businesses without a licence or found guilty of fly-tipping.

It is easy to assume that cowboy operators are less likely to hold a licence and more likely to dispose of waste illegally. Your quotation for the work may be lower, but homeowners should take an interest and some responsibility for proper disposal of their old roofline products.

Also, if hazardous asbesto is present (it would normally be the soffit board), a specialist contractor, licenced by the Health & Safety Executive (HSE) should be employed to safely remove and dispose of it, in accordance with Special Waste Regulations.

Proper installation of new roofline products would not be complete without some kind of eaves protection system and there are several proprietary designs available.

Since most roof tiles are porous, any rainwater which may penetrate them, together with condensation underneath the tiles, is caught by the roofing felt and the water flows down into the gutter.

It is normal for the end of the roofing felt to become worn and should therefore be renewed or covered with an eaves protector. To install this, the first row or two of tiles should be pushed back to expose the end of the felt at the eaves.

The eaves protector replaces worn and damaged roofing felt with a (normally recycled) uPVC material which is resistant to attack and which is positioned to enable rainwater and condensation to flow into the new gutter rather than onto the timber rafters.

An integral part of some eaves protection systems is a ‘bird comb’ which, whilst allowing ventilation into the roof space, prevents birds from entering it through the gaps below shaped tiles. The bird comb sections consist of a row of tines that adapt to the shape of the tiles to form an effective barrier to entry by birds.

Roofline Products - Installation Process

Lengths of fascia board are cut to size and nailed to the ends of the roof rafters with plastic capped nails. Usually around 20 mm thick, the uPVC fascia boards should be sturdy enough not to create an undulating or wavy effect as they travel over and between the rafter ends.

Whilst most fascia board is either flat or Ogee style, decorative styles are also available which reflect the ornate features of Victorian or Edwardian properties.

In-line and corner joints should be fitted to cover joints more neatly than simple silicone sealed joints, and box-ends are formed at the corners of the roof.

Various types of ventilated soffit board are available in either (approximately) 10 mm thick solid utility board or hollow ship-lap style board. Either way, they are usually shaped to interlock with the fascia board.

Soffit boards are normally ventilated either at the manufacturing stage by cutting a series of slots along its length or by fitting circular vents at the time of installation.

Where soffit board is installed without any form of in-built ventilation, you should ensure that ventilation is provided instead, designed into the eaves protection system.

Gutters are available in half-round, square-line, Ogee style and other heavy duty and high capacity forms, and down spouts are normally either square or round.

Gutters are fixed to the fascia using either internal or external brackets, though the former generally provide a neater appearance. A series of in-line connectors, internal and external corner sections and hoppers combine to ensure that rainwater from the property roof flows into the down spouts without leakage.

The down spouts then take water to existing gullies often at the corner of properties.

Sometimes offered as an optional extra, it makes sense to have a gutter guard fitted into gutters once they are fitted onto the fascia, to keep them free of falling leaves and other debris, otherwise the build-up can cause gutters to overflow.

If you don’t already have a water butt to collect rainwater for your garden, installation of new roofline and rainwater products presents a perfect time to make amends. A rainwater diverter is fitted to a down spout to direct rainwater into the water butt until it is fills up.

Once the water butt is full, rainwater follows its normal path down to the gulley. Collected rainwater will save money on your water bills if you have a water meter, and it is good for the environment by helping to conserve water.

uPVC Cladding

Timber External Cladding Will Rot Eventually

Timber external wall cladding, protected only by paint, can be very susceptible to damage by the weather over time.

Periods of wet weather when the timber has little chance to dry out, followed by warm sunshine baking the surface, will eventually cause the paint to crack and peel.

This exposes the bare timber cladding to the elements which will result in rot, fungal damage and decay which could be concealing problem areas of brickwork.

In time the cladding will need to be replaced but replacing it in timber rather than uPVC won’t be much cheaper, and at some time in the future you will probably have to replace it again.

Roofline Products include two main types of cladding. They have either an extruded hollow section or a hard outer surface of PVCu-e on a cellular, or foamed, internal core and are available in ship-lap or open-V style.

PVCu-e: – Unplasticised Expanded Polyvinyl Chloride

Cellular PVC profiles are manufactured by way of a co-extrusion process during which high impact PVCu-e compound is extruded onto the outer surface of a foam PVCu-e cellular core.

During the process it is formed to the required shape and surface texture, then cooled and cut to size. It can be manufactured with a flat glossy surface, a textured wood grain effect surface or be finished with a bonded laminate which gives the appearance of timber.

PVCu-e is an excellent insulator and is resistant to acids, alkalis and atmospheric pollution.

Durability

The tough outer skin of PVCu-e cellular profiles used for external wall cladding provides an excellent all-year-round weathering capability, though some fading may occur over a number of years.

This is due to a natural weathering process but any slight colour changes or dulling of the surface should be uniform over the whole of the exposed surface.

Colours

Soffit, fascia, barge boards and cladding are readily available in a wide range of colour and texture finishes including

  • brilliant white,
  • cream,
  • black and brown (both with flat or wood grain textured surfaces) and
  • realistic woodgrain effect laminate finishes such as mahogany,
  • oak,
  • rosewood and
  • black ash.

In most cases, Roofline installation companies will offer uPVC windows, uPVC doors and uPVC conservatories in matching colour and texture finishes to their fascias, soffits and cladding products.

Gutters and down spouts are readily available in white, brown and black but some manufacturers produce gutters and downspouts to match other woodgrain effect roofline products.

Health & Safety

The installation of roofline products on two and three storey properties inevitably means working at height and an increasing emphasis on the health and safety of installers has resulted in a proliferation of different styles of access equipment.

Simply working from ladders is no longer acceptable in many situations and companies which cut their prices to the bone often put their installers at risk by not providing adequate access equipment for them to use.

That doesn’t mean that expensive scaffolding needs to be erected as there is a wide range of custom-designed equipment available which can be erected and dismantled relatively quickly.

New Roofline Products

As to be expected, new variations of roofline products are always being introduced and some roofline installation companies have started to offer retro-style products such as imitation cast iron gutters and down spouts.

Another retro-style product, though not strictly belonging to the roofline product range, is Mock Tudor Effect uPVC Boards in black, oak and mahogany effects, to replace existing rotting timber beams.

This is not an extruded product as they are generally hand finished and stained to create an authentic reproduction of English oak with a grained texture, knots and other natural imperfections of real wood.

Roofline Products - uPVC Cladding
uPVC Cladding
Roofline Products - uPVC Fascia, Soffit and Gutter
uPVC Fascia, Soffit and Gutter
Roofline Products - uPVC Cladding Colours
uPVC Cladding Colours
Roofline Products - uPVC Mock Tudor Boards
uPVC Mock Tudor Boards