Roof Sarking: What Is It And What Do You NEED To Know

Unsure what roof sarking is and whether you need it on your home, or perhaps you have questions about your existing roof sarking? Then not to worry, I’ve taken the time to put together an article covering everything you need to know about roof sarking in Australia.

What is Roof Sarking?

Roof sarking is a pliable membrane (usually a thin sheet of foil lined with aluminum) that sits under your roof providing protection to your roof cavity, along with several other benefits.

What are the benefits and why is roof sarking important?

There are a number of benefits of using sarking on your roof. These include:

1. Protection of your roof cavity

Sitting behind your tiles or roof sheets, sarking acts as a safety net to capture any unwanted rain, dust, or debris that enters through your roof covering.  In addition, it also helps to prevent wind from entering your roof space.

2. Thermal efficiency

Roof sarking provides a protective layer that can reflect the radiant heat coming through your roof helping to keep your roof space cooler.

3. Fire protection

In the case of a bushfire, as the sarking sits between your roof and the roof cavity, it helps to prevent hot embers within the air from entering your roof space and starting a fire.

4. Moisture control

Sarking does not only prevent water, dust, and debris from entering your roof space it also prevents moisture and condensation from building up in your roof cavity which if not treated can lead to damage to your ceiling and roof structure.  

Why you may ask?  In cooler climates, when you have a metal roof the warmer air in your roof space can rise and hit the cold roof sheets.  Condensation can then build up and drip back into your roof area and ceiling.

The above video shows how roof sarking can help prevent moisture problems within your ceiling

What roof sarking do I need for my roof?

There are a couple of main factors when it comes to choosing roof sarking, one is the type of roof you have and the other is your location.

Sarking & types of roofs

Within Australia, the two main roof types are either tiled roofs or metal (colorbond) roofs.

Tiled roofs

if you have a tiled roof then you’ll be seeking a fine sarking membrane that will sit between the rafters and battens similar to one the below.

Sarking of a tiled roof
Example of roof sarking on a tiled roof (Copyright Bradford Australia)

Metal roof sarking

However, with a metal roof, there are other sarking options, one is your standard sarking such as below;

Roof sarking installed on a metal roof in Australia
Roof sarking being installed on a metal colorbond roof in Australia (Copyright Bradford Australia)

Or alternatively, there are such products as Bradford’s Anticon roof insulation which has both the sarking and thermal insulation component to it which lays in between the roof sheets and the batters providing more benefits than just sarking, including improved acoustic performance of your roof and thermal insulation.

Anticon roof sarking being installed on a metal roof
Example of Bradford’s anticon being installed under a metal roof (Copyright Bradford Australia)

Location is a factor

In Australia, as the climate is so different across the states, the type of roof sarking you’ll need will vary depending on the location.

As a guide, I’d recommend checking Bradford’s Roof Sarking Product Selector which describes which sarking is suitable depending on where you live in Australia.

In addition to this whether you have a tiled or metal roof will also impact the type of sarking to install.  For example

What is the difference between roof sarking and roof insulation?

When comparing roof sarking to roof insulation, sarking is a thin pliable membrane, whereas roof insulation has both a foil-type membrane with insulation amended to it.

Roof sarking vs insulation
Left: Roof Sarking Right: Roof Insulation (Images copyright Bradford Australia)

While installing roofs in Western Australia we would usually use sarking on tiled roofs and roof insulation on metal (colorbond) roofs. This was mainly due to the acoustic benefits of roof insulation which would help reduce the noise of rain on a metal roof.

Do you need roof sarking in Australia?

The need to install roof sarking will depend on a number of factors.  This includes:

  • State building regulations
  • The type of roof you are having installed
  • The pitch of the roof
  • Whether you’re located in a bushfire-prone area

With this in mind, I’d recommend speaking with your builder or local council to confirm building regulation requirements for your home.

Alternatively, the link below from Bradfords is also worth reading where they discuss the building code of Australia and the requirements for sarking for tiled roofs.

Personally, if I was to be building a house, and regardless of whether it’s mandatory or not, based on what I’ve seen and the benefits alone I would definitely be installing roof sarking or roof insulation (depending on the type of roof I have).

Can I install sarking on the existing roof?

Sarking can be installed on an existing roof, however, this isn’t an easy process as the roof has to be removed to do so.

If it’s a tiled roof then you have to remove the ridge capping, battens, and tiles and lay the sarking under the battens, refix the battens, and tiles, and then the ridge capping.

However, if it’s a metal (colorbond) roof then it’s a matter of removing the ridge caps, and the roof sheets, laying down the sarking then refixing the metal sheets and the ridge caps.

Can you repair roof sarking?

Yes, roof sarking can be repaired however if you want to do it properly, it’s not a quick job. Repairing roof sarking involves removing the roof covering (such as tiles or colorbond) and adding the inserting a new piece such as the video below.

Example of roof sarking being repaired on a tiled roof in Sydney, Australia.

Alternatively, if it’s only a rip or a tear in the sarking that needs repairing then although not ideal, you can look at preparing the sarking by using tape such as ProctorWrap.

How much does roof sarking cost?

There are a number of different factors that will impact the cost of roof sarking, with the main factor being the thermal efficiency rating. 

At the time of writing this article roof sarking rolls (usually come in 60m lengths) start from $140 up to $300 depending on the type of sarking you opt for.

Best roof sarking in Australia?

There are a number of suppliers of roof sarking in Australia.  For me, I’ve always used Bradford sarking and insulation.

I mainly worked with metal roofing, and as I’m based in Perth, Western Australia the sarking that we installed under nearly all of our metal roofs was Bradfords Anticon as this provided both the benefits or sarking though also helped with heat control and reducing the noise of rain on the roof.

Where can you buy sarking in Australia?

Roof sarking can be found at a number of home improvement stores, for example, Bunnings, Mitre 10, and Stratco. 

If you prefer a particular roof sarking provided by a certain company, I’d recommend going to their website and checking out their “where to buy” or “reseller” pages, which will list resellers within your state.

Below are some links that may be of help:

Final thoughts

I hope you found this article helpful when it comes to understanding roof sarking and its benefits of using it. If you still have questions about sarking that haven’t been covered in this article, be sure to let me know via my contact page and I’ll be sure to cover them.

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