When choosing a canopy for your school, you’ll have a number of decisions to make. One of the most important of these is the type of roof you go for and whether it is fragile or non-fragile. Here, we assess the various available options.
Fragile vs. non-fragile
At Kensington Systems, we’re often asked about access to the roof of our canopies for cleaning and so on.
If your roof is classified as non-fragile, you’ll have peace of mind of knowing it meets requirements minimising the risk of injury, clearly extremely important for a school setting. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is particularly keen for all roof installations to be classed as non-fragile, especially in structures that could be vulnerable to vandals or intruders. In recent years, falls through roofs have been a significant cause of serious injury and even fatalities, across the construction industry.
Even if no one actually falls through your roof, walking over a fragile structure, including for legitimate purposes such as window cleaning, could damage its performance over time.
And if you have a ‘fragile’ roof, you’ll need to take the right safety precautions to comply with relevant safety regulations. (ACR(M)001:2014)
We test all our canopies. Testing for fragility assesses whether a structure can withstand someone stumbling or falling on it, and there are three grades of pass:
- A – This is the highest rating and means testing shows no visible damage to the assembly following multiple drops
- B – Multiple drops cause minimal damage
- C – Requires only one drop test to cause damage.
Non-fragility regulations apply to the structure as a whole, but particularly the strength of the roof. Kensington Systems’ Spaceshade canopies have all been successfully tested to meet ACR[M]:001 2014 (non-fragile regulations applying to polycarbonate roofs) and CWCT TN92 (non-fragile regulations applying to glass roofs).
The different roofing types explained
Multiwall polycarbonate is the most common choice for a canopy roof. It is extremely tough and impact-resistant so unlikely to shatter or break if something or someone falls on it. With a life expectancy of up to 25 years, it can be tinted, plus, it comes with UV coatings that block up to 98% of harmful UVA and UVB radiation from the sun.
Polycarbonate is fire resistant, and it stays cool in warm weather. Perhaps the only slight drawback is that it can become quite noisy during heavy rain.
All in all, it’s a virtually unbreakable, cost-effective material that holds its appearance and strength over an extended period of time.
Kensington Systems’ Spaceshade canopies are all tested for non-fragility with multiwall polycarbonate, and all have achieved a minimum non-fragility rating of Class B.
Laminated glass will be a slightly costlier option. And it does need to be of a high quality, suitably strong and from a reputable supplier.
But on the plus side it can look stylish, and has a clean finish. Glass also has good acoustic properties and you can have a tinted finish for additional sun protection.
There are different thicknesses available, however anything thinner than 9.5mm laminated cannot be classed as non-fragile.
Glass Reinforced Plastic (GRP)
Also called fibreglass, this material combines glass fibres with a polyester resin matrix to create a tough yet non-brittle roof. Versatile and with a similar visual appeal to glass, it can be translucent or opaque, according to your preferences, and it’s available in many different colours.
However, there’s less resistance to impact than you get with polycarbonate and often a shorter lifespan. This is why we do not use GRP in our canopies. You may also find it needs more upkeep and cleaning than the alternatives.
Corrugated roofs are a cost-effective roof type that can also last a long time. They also help to prevent water buildup.
However, corrugated metal roofs can be very noisy in the rain and cleaning and maintenance can be a challenge. Compared to polycarbonate or glass, it does not look smart or stylish once installed, which is why this material is not often used in schools.
Solar panel roofs for the future
We’re currently developing a new roofing solution, where canopies will have solar panels integrated into the roof to create renewable energy for the school, which will be available soon.
Get in touch with us today for an informal chat about which canopy roofing options might best suit your school.