Is translucent fiberglass roof cooler or hotter than opaque roof

by SinkovecJ   Last Updated August 14, 2019 16:21 PM

We are building a roof over garden table: sort of like a pergola with roofing. We are using OSB panels for insulation and fiberglass roofing sheets for weather protection. We already chose translucent roofing for availability and price, but we started to wonder whether a dark opaque roofing would offer a better heat protection from the sun.

Dark opaque roofing would become way hotter than a translucent one, but would also protect the underlying OSB panels from direct sunlight. Hot air between the roofing and OSB panels is free to circulate and convey the heat away, but some heat would nevertheless be transferred to OSB panels including with heat radiation from the roofing.

Translucent roofing enables most of the sunshine to be reflected from the bright OSB panels, but I guess a greenhouse effect comes into play and traps some heat, again heating the panels.

So more out of theoretical curiosity than out of need for actual advice I ask: Which roofing would offer cooler environment under the roof: translucent or opaque?

Tags : roof

Answers 4

Based on the same physics as a greenhouse, I would expect it to be cooler under the opaque roof because:

A translucent roof allows radiation through and when this hits a surface, a portion of the energy is re-radiated in the infra-red range, which can't get back out, thus warming the air.

But for practical solutions - the comments give some nice ideas.

Rory Alsop
Rory Alsop
June 22, 2011 08:04 AM

Technically speaking, the coolest thing to do is to have an opaque roofing surface that's a perfect mirror. Short of that, it should be painted somewhere in the red spectrum, reflecting the infra-red range. Beyond that, lighter colors are better.

Personally, I'd avoid the translucent, since I don't know whether long-term exposure to UV rays will damage the OSB.

July 07, 2011 19:50 PM

OSB is sheathing...not insulation. You need sheathing, of course, but note that it won't really be providing any insulative abilities.

If you want to increase airflow under the panels, add furring strips and attach the fiberglass to those. Be sure to put down roofing felt or ice/shield over the OSB to ensure water resistance.

A dark panel would be fine, though the lighter the color, the less it will absorb the sunlight.

March 28, 2012 22:09 PM

Fiberglass or Composite roofs has low thermal conductivity, which means they will keep the inside warm when the outside is cold, and kepp the inside cool when the outside is hot. Source:

Thịnh Nguyễn
Thịnh Nguyễn
August 14, 2019 16:13 PM

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