What sort of roof shall I put on my log cabin?
There is one key fact about log cabin roofs; the height of the cabin at the eves must not exceed 2.5 metres if the cabin is within 2 metres of the boundary.
Familiarise yourself very carefully with all the current planning regulations regarding log cabins, garden buildings etc before buying a log cabin. Once you have found a log cabin you like, check again to see whether the building would comply with planning laws were you to build it in your intended location.
Most log cabins can be ordered with a choice of roofs so it may be that with one roof option the log cabin will comply with planning regulations and with another it will not. You cannot, unfortunately rely on log cabin resellers to inform you of this; their sole interest is in encouraging sales of log cabins, not upholding planning regulations! If you are misfortunate enough to be sold the wrong cabin with the wrong roof for the wrong site you will be met with the answer ‘you need to apply for retrospective planning permission’, which, let’s face it, you are extremely unlikely to get and even if you did win such a planning case on appeal or some such, it would leave you out of pocket and out of favour with the neighbours. Lesson: choose the right cabin with the right roof for the site!
In terms of roof choices for log cabins the simplest are the flat roof option or the roof pitched on two sides. Arguably a pitched roof is the more aesthetically pleasing. But the flat roof log cabin will sit better in most small town gardens. If you go for a cabin with a low profile flat roof it won’t block the light from the garden, the neighbours will be happier, you can see over it from the house and it will generally be a lot less intrusive. A high roof (anything around 2.5m or above) will only sit well in a larger garden.
In terms of roofing materials, there are a range of choices such as roofing felt, bitumin roof tiles, EPDM rubber, wood shingles, or a green roof.
Traditional roofing felt comes in varying grades with different life-expectancies. Spending money on a good log cabin you will want a decent roof that will not leak and will last. Basically this pretty much rules out the diy roofing felt options, as they just don’t last. The last thing you want is a leak in the roof you can’t see until many of the logs and timbers have suffered from water ingress. Applying torch on roofing felt and sealing with hot bitumen, for a cabin roof that will last at least 20 years, is regarded as a job for roofing contractors so the best thing to do for this option is to get some quotes from local flat roofers.
Most of the log cabin suppliers offer the option of covering the cabin roof with bituminous roofing tiles or shingles. These come in a choice of colours in sealed plastic packs and are nailed onto roof boards in overlapping rows. The life expectancy of this type of roof is not as long as say epdm rubber or top grade roofing felt. Still, it looks good and comes in a variety of colours that blend in with the garden theme. It is the opinion of this site that these types of roofs are fine for say a children’s wendy house or similar but not of the best durability for a garden room or home office log cabin. The argument is similar to that of the foundations; just as you cannot build a good building on weak foundations, you can never be completely comfortable about your log cabin unless you know that the roof will provide the best protection available. After all, we all know what happens when wood gets wet.
Wood shingles are widely used in North America. They look great but are potentially tricky to fit correctly and don’t come cheap. For a completely natural look you cannot beat cedar wood shingles which will last and last and even improve their look with age. For a stunning log cabin roof these are the option to go for.
The most environmentally sympathetic roof option is the green roof. If done right a green roof log cabin will be low maintenance, good looking and very green. However the green roof will not be the cheapest or most practical option for a log cabin roof. A green roof requires a certain depth of soil na dwhen saturated this vastly increases the load on the roof such that you would need to design a cabin with a reinforced roof structure – extra purlins and joists – to cope with the additional loads. Not practical except for the most ardent environmentalists.
The EPDM rubber roof is a concept that is also widely employed in America. In the UK we seem wedded to traditional roofing felt which is a lot more difficult to fit and suffers from cracks and splits and cannot be fitted in one piece. The beauty and simplicity of an EPDM rubber roof for your log cabin is that it can be supplied in the dimensions you specify; you can actually cover the entire log cabin roof with one single sheet of rubber. This eliminates altogether the risk of leaks developing in weathered or badly sealed felt joins. What’s more you can easily fit an epdm roof to your log cabin yourself, without any problem at all as it’s a very easy diy job to do. All you do is order the size of covering and a tub of special epdm glue paste. You apply the paste to your roof boards with a roller and then simply roll out the rubber roof and brush out any air pockets with a soft broom. Finally nail down the sides of the rubber straight into the timbers at the side of the roof. Finish off with plastic trims which will direct rainwater into the guttering.
The log cabin manufacturers offer the option of epdm rubber roofs. Their kits are fitted slightly differently, often with a downpipe incorporated into the roof which is the way it’s done in continental Europe. In the UK we’re no strangers to rain and so it may well be more comforting to see the rain shed straight off the back or sides of the cabin into traditional external guttering.
On the subject of guttering, log cabin suppliers don’t usually bother about guttering. That’s all well and good until it rains! Guttering on a log cabin, as with any building, helps shed the water well away from the fabric of the building and the foundations. Having said that, most log cabin kits are designed with quite a hefty overhang of 35cm which sheds water fairly well clear. But, let’s be honest for a proper job you will need to think about fitting guttering and where that guttering is going to drain into.