Though there has been considerable progress in the last decade, the rate of change cannot be said to be dramatic. The advent of metal, fiberglass and asphalt roofing has forever changed the roofing industry, which was previously restricted to conventional RCC roofs or at best, GI or asbestos-cement sheet roofing. The quality of fasteners, clip-on systems, hardware fixings and trimmings has increased considerably, allowing structures to look attractive and neat. Further, these systems allow quick installation with the least on-site time. These new technologies have also made possible long-span roofs, roofs with interesting shapes, roofs that incorporate FRP skylights, and many other variations. Tiles and shingles are also available, making metal and fiberglass roofs a part of the residential scenario as well. This aspect is now being pushed by manufacturers in India.
Cladding, from a barely known industry, is now growing in the consciousness of the consumer. In keeping with international trends, façade design has become a basic part and parcel of the design concept and identity of a building, whether commercial, retail, residential or industrial.
Metal panels are becoming de rigueur, superseding conventional stone and tile cladding because of their neat application and durability. Glass façades that double up as the building skin are gaining ground for commercial construction and increasingly sophisticated technologies for designing and managing glass façades are in the market today. Plus, façade design is looking at various aspects like energy conservation, efficiency, strength, resistance to high speed winds and vibrations, and many other factors critical to the building structure and safety.
Clearly, these trends follow a normal growth curve that desperately needs to be catapulted into a sharper curve. This is not merely to help roofing and cladding manufacturers push their products in the country. More importantly, both roofing and cladding are critical elements of the building envelope. They protect the building from external elements, play an important role in climate control and hazard mitigation, and they define the aesthetic character of a building. For all these reasons and for the basic safety and security of the people using a structure, it is critical to keep pace with the latest trends and technologies in roofing and cladding.
Indian usage may be more or less conventional today, but with new technologies entering the market everyday, the scenario will change in the coming five years. Foreign investment and the increasingly global nature of Indian companies are factors that will speed up the change towards better technology.