Wet vs Dry Ridge – Which is Generally Best for a Property?

Grant Findley of Findley Roofing & Building

IT’S NO secret that traditional sand and cement mortar is no longer the only available solution for the attachment of ridge tiles to a property’s roof.

Since the introduction of BS 5534, it is actually dry ridge systems that are a building control requirement on all new roofs – but not repairs to existing roofs.

Wet ridge systems, which are essentially composed of mortar bedded ridges, have been used in some form for centuries. They are cheap and easy to install, and customers will be able to find a relatively competent roofer who can apply a wet ridge repair to their roof in next to no time.

Wet ridge – cheaper, but not as effective
If, at this point, you’re expecting us to write a “however”… good guess! A wet ridge system will certainly do the job required, but only for an unfortunately short time. The life expectancy of a wet ridge system is reflected in the shorter guarantee we’ll announce to the customer when the work is complete.

As the system is mortar-based, the cement can also shrink, chunks can break away and fall down the roof, and it’s entirely likely that we’ll end up having to perform more wet ridge work on the roof in the not-too distant future.

Dry ridge – effective, but expensive
As we all know, the dry ridge system has become increasingly popular in the last 20 years, but was actually developed far earlier than you may expect. Redland, one of the UK’s largest manufacturers of tiles, puts the age of the dry ridge system at more than 40 years old, stating that the earliest dry ridge system was developed all the way back in 1978.

However, as a more modern and longer-lasting product, dry ridge systems are more expensive to source and install. Plus, if a home is of a certain age, a dry ridge system might not suit the aesthetic of the home.

Far more pros with the costlier purchase
And swiftly onto the second “however”… what is received from the extra outlay far outweighs the hit to a customer’s bank balance, when having invested in a dry ridge system. Each tile on the roof will be mechanically fixed, making the system stronger, while also providing extra ventilation to the rest of the roof.

There are also far more sizes, shapes and colours available for a dry ridge system, giving a modern home a range of roofing options to suit their style, and the life expectancy of the system is incredibly long. Mortar-free, dry ridge systems are also tested to withstand extreme weather conditions, and require little to no maintenance over time.

There’s no doubt that dry ridge is a superior product. It is a near-permanent fix that will last for the lifespan of the entire roof. If cost is a serious issue, though, then a wet ridge fix could be the way to go, although it certainly won’t last anywhere near as long (potentially only a few years, if they’re lucky).

Here at Findley’s, roofers in Sunderland and elsewhere across the North, we have identified a significant increase in homeowners opting for dry ridge systems over temporary wet ridge fixes. In the past three years, the increase has been approximately 35%, particularly on pitched roof homes.

A dry ridge system is almost certainly the best option for a property, but for a quick, easy and cheap temporary fix, they may wish to stick with wet ridge repairs. When it comes down to it, the customer always has the final say, but it’s important we have the right knowledge to guide them to the best possible solution.

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