The Latest Trends in Roofing Materials – Part 2


Steep-Slope Roofs

The inclined roof market in Jamaica is dominated by a number of metal roof systems, with significant market share also enjoyed by fibreglass and wood shingles. More recently, clay and concrete roof tiles have made an appearance and have gained considerable popularity and acceptance.

Metal Roofing Systems

Circular profile zinc coated steel roofing has been the traditional choice for many Jamaican homeowners for several decades because of its low cost and effectiveness. In addition, various rectangular profile Aluminium roofing options have been in use for decades, but with sometimes poor hurricane performance for the thinner gauges. In the last 30 years however, stone coated and painted metal roof tiles have taken majority market share being far more attractive with various profiles and colours, and the pleasing texture provided by a stone coating. There are now several different manufacturers offering this type of product in Jamaica through several distributors and affiliated contractors. A considerable benefit of this system that has increased its popularity is its excellent hurricane resistance, and generally long maintenance free life-span. We estimate that these systems enjoy a 50-60% market share.

A recent entrant in this segment of the market is standing seam roofing, which promises to do quite well because of its clean lines, attractive colours, and excellent hurricane and leak resistance. We predict an eventual market share of 5-10% for this new system.

Wood Roofing

Red Cedar shingle and shake roofing has been very popular in Jamaica for decades, consistently imparting a warm and sophisticated feel to any building. However, the relatively high cost and short lifespan of this material has resulted in many building owners shifting towards usage of longer lasting synthetic products. More recently, Wallaba shingles from Guyana have made an appearance promising a much longer lifespan than Cedar at a lower initial cost. However, Wallaba requires the skills of specially trained contractors for successful installation, and several early projects done with this wood failed because of faulty workmanship. Accordingly it gained a bad reputation which reduced its popularity. In the last five years however, there has been a resurgence in the popularity of this wood as a result of the development of a significant pool of talented installers, and Wallaba has made great competitive strides against Cedar roofing. It is now considered an attractive combination of the beauty of a natural wood roof with a long life estimated to be in the region of 40 years. Notwithstanding this, the various options in shingles and shakes available in Cedar roofing guarantee its place as the predominant choice for wood roofing in Jamaica. We estimate a market share of 10% for this type of roofing.

Fiberglass Shingles

Traditional 3-tab fibreglass shingles have been used in Jamaica for decades, and have established a reputation for superior economy and attractive finishes. This is a commodity type roofing product, which is widely distributed by hardware stores with a large contingent of skilled tradesmen available for installation.

However, fibreglass shingles have traditional performed poorly during hurricanes causing a reduction in their popularity. Additionally, since most fibreglass shingle roofs are not vented, they have developed a reputation for being very hot roofs.

More recently, one or two local distributors have introduced laminated Architectural grade fibreglass shingles to the market. These thicker shingles feature far more dimensional aesthetic appeal and wind uplift resistance that rivals metal roofing. So we predict that this system will continue to hold its estimated 15% market share.

Clay Roof Tiles

Clay tile roofing has become very popular in Jamaica over the last 20 years, imparting a highly sought after Spanish/Mediterranean feel to any structure on which installed. A number of distributors and contractors import this type of roofing from Spain, Venezuela, Columbia and other countries, and there are several contractors who install same, with varying degrees of success.

There has recently been a shift in preference towards blended clay tile roofs, where tiles of different complimentary colours are blended to yield an attractive colour palette suited to individual tastes. The most common profile used is the “S” profile, with other profiles including a flat profile making an appearance in recent times. The quality of the tiles distributed varies significantly depending on the supplier.

Unfortunately, clay roof tiles do not perform well during hurricanes if improperly installed, which has frequently been the case. So they developed a bad reputation in a country frequently subjected to hurricanes and extreme weather conditions, with a resulting decline in popularity. Fortunately, great strides have been made with attachment systems for clay tile roofing, and they are now capable of withstanding major hurricanes with greatly improved wind uplift resistance. Chief amongst such attachment systems are foam based products which have been proven to be extremely effective. We estimate a market share of 5-10% for this type of roofing.


There are a number of other systems in use in Jamaica which account for a very small share of the inclined roof market. These include cement/concrete tiles (some manufactured locally), Paroid roofing, elastomeric coatings, fiber cement tiles, fibreglass panels, etc. Their limited market share is usually a result of a lack of cost effectiveness, or of poor performance in our harsh tropical conditions. The estimated combined market share is 5-10%.