If you ever wondered what those green plastic looking panels on someone’s back porch or greenhouse, they are called corrugated fiberglass roofing panels. These strong flexible panels are a relatively inexpensive way to roof an outside area, usually an area above plants or a back patio area.
The panels are made from a mat of high strength glass fibers imbedded in an organic resin creating a translucent laminate. They are formed into a rolling pattern like a wave. The panels allow the filtration of light but keep out the harshness of direct sunlight. Being flexible they make an excellent roofing material that is easy to install and can be drilled, punched, sawed and nailed without causing damage to the panel.
Important notes on Installation
Depending on the company you choose to buy your fiberglass panels from there are different grades of paneling called series ranging from 410 to 800. Each series has a recommended roof span meaning the distance of your underlying framework for fastening the panels. For example a 410 series has a maximum span of 20, 22, 25, or 32 inches.
Design loads of the panels are governed by local building codes. It would be a good idea to contact your local code authorities for load and stress specifications.
Panels should not be allowed to support any undistributed weight like a human body meaning it is not a good idea to sunbath on your patio deck cover. During construction use only approved ladders and planking.
Installing The Panels: The Patio Cover
The most important factor in installing corrugated fiberglass roofing panels is to factor the prevailing winds and overlapping accordingly. Start at the leeward end and work toward the wind. Once you have your desired framework built, there are certain things to remember about installing your panels.
You should provide a minimum of one corrugation overlap at the sides. Provide 8″ end-lap for a roof with a pitch of less than 4″ to 12″and a 6″ end-lap for pitches or more than 4″ to 12″. Remember to fasten panels through crowns at every second corrugation. Use fasteners with armored Neoprene washers.
Space fasteners 6″ to 8″ on center at panel ends: 12″ to 16″ on center for intermediate purlins and siding applications. Purlins are your beams on your roof that you nail to. Your purlins members should be at the maximum intervals. You can check a load/span chart at the hardware store where you will be purchasing your panels.
Working with Your Panels
Being a versatile material, your panels can be shaped and fastened any number of ways. To cut your panels, you can use hand or power saws. They should be fine toothed carbide tipped blades or even a safety fabric abrasive disc.
Pre drilling the panels should be not less 1 and ½” from the panel ends. The holes drilled should be a minimum of 1 and 1/16” larger than the fastener diameter. It is possible to drill several panels at one time. If you need to bend your panels for installation do not install them in less than 60 degree weather.
The most common fasteners used in fiberglass panel installation are weatherproof nails or wood screws with neoprene washers. The size depends on the type of corrugation of the panel as well as the framing material.
It is best to drill and fasten your valleys first then work on your peaks in the paneling. Make sure any burrs from drilling are cleaned away before using screws to protect the neoprene sealing face.
Most importantly with any fiberglass product always wear safety goggles and gloves for protection. With these guidelines it is up to you how you want your patio or greenhouse to look.
photo by colbwt -CreativeCommons Attribution