This is probably the most common question we get asked, and rightly so. You want to make sure that the polycarbonate roofing sheets that you use are quality and are going to last, so you don’t have to replace them all over again in a few years!
You may have already done a whole lot of research and seen the other products on the market. If so, you’ve probably found that everyone likes to say ‘we’re the best value for money…’ or something similar. We would say the same.
But we’d like to show you not just tell you. So we’ve done quite a bit of research for you on every product available in the NZ market. We want to be transparent, and hopefully prove to you that we are the best choice.
However, if your builder says ‘that’s nice but I still want to use such-and-such product because I’ve used them for 30 years and they’re the only ones I trust’, then that’s fine. We’ll even tell you where the best place to get such-and-such product is.
Take a look at the table below to see how we stack up against everyone else including: Suntuf, Tufclad Ultra, Laserlite, Solar Shield, Sunthru, Polysun, Eurolite, Solasafe, Norwest, Calypso, Astrolite, Sunline and SolarTuff.
(Click the picture to enlarge it)
Things to consider when choosing your polycarbonate roofing:
Length of warranty
This is a good indication of how much the retailer actually trusts their product as well. If they’ve been in business for a while (like us, for over 50 years) and they offer a good warranty, chances are they’ve done their research and are going to stand behind their product.
Type of UV protection
Most products available have a UV protective coating which is applied to one side of the sheet (ours is a 4th generation UV protective coating). We have seen some inferior products that mixed the UV protection in with the sheet. So while this stops UV from going through the sheet, it doesn’t stop it breaking down the sheet itself. If in doubt, ask what type of UV protection it has.
Type of resin used
Like everything, a better raw material means a better product (ours uses 100% virgin Sabic Lexan). If the supplier doesn’t know what type of resin their sheets use, it may be a mix of different types, which isn’t as good as using one well established resin, or it may not be 100% virgin which means it uses a mix of new and re-melted polycarbonate resin.
If you really want to get into the details, keep reading.
What is polycarbonate roofing?
The material ‘polycarbonate’ is a thermoplastic polymer. There are two main companies that produce the resin required to manufacture it, Sabic Lexan and Covestro (previously Bayer) Makrolon. Our sheets use Sabic Lexan resin.
There are a number of properties that make it useful:
- It’s up 250 times stronger than glass
- It has a high melting point
- It’s optically clear
- It can be easily molded and flexed
It’s because of this that it’s also used in aircraft windscreens and mobile phone/tablet screens.
What other alternatives are available?
There are a number of similar products on the market:
Fibre-reinforced plastic (FRP), fibreglass translucent roofing (FTR),glass reinforced polyester (GRP)
These are all names for fairly similar products.
Their warranty ranges from 5 years up to 25 years with prices to match. For something that lasts as long as polycarbonate roofing you’re generally paying significantly more.
They’re ideal for industrial applications due to their extended lifespan, they also require a lot more care, planning and specialist knowledge during install.
Due to the fibres through the actual sheet, they’re not optically clear like polycarbonate is.
Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
PVC roofing used to be the only kind of plastic roofing available, no doubt you’ve come across is at some stage on an old garage or carport.
It’s very cheap to produce but doesn’t last as long as polycarbonate. You’ll generally only get a few years out of it and most carry a maximum of a 5 year warranty.
The main reason they don’t last is because of the UV from the sun, it tends to break it down quicker. They’d still be suitable for applications out of the sun or for temporary cover solutions.
Hopefully this has given you a good overview of polycarbonate roofing and what is available on the NZ market!
Of course you’ll do your own research as well. New products come to market, so if you do find some additional or different information then let us know!
As a final word on our polycarbonate roofing, just know this: we would never sell anything we wouldn’t be happy using or installing ourselves.