Retractable roofs are considered stylish, luxurious and expensive, usually seen as a standout feature in the homes of millionaires or upscale commercial buildings.

Canadian-based retractable roof specialist Libart is now bringing retractable roofs within the reach of many Australians with a complete manufacturing setup in Australia. Operating in 20 countries worldwide, Libart began manufacturing in Australia two years ago and has already started rolling out its products.

New homeowners in Australia are increasingly incorporating high end home design features such as bi-fold doors, sliding glass panels, outdoor kitchens and alfresco areas as they look for a new wow factor. By making retractable roofs affordable, Libart has been able to increase the product’s popularity in the country.

Libart will soon be talking to architects and dealers in Perth ahead of its launch in WA. Commenting on the product’s growing popularity, Libart dealer development manager Richard Gillan said that retractable roofs are already well known in sporting arenas and commercial buildings for their ability to provide year-round weather control. But the growing interest from the residential market is a new one and attributed to its practical application as well as the wow factor.

Mr Gillan explains that retractable roofs are especially well liked for their ability to create an atrium feature in a home, introducing interesting lighting effects and a contemporary design to any area. Retractable roofs are also recommended over swimming pools, enabling the pool or spa to be used year-round. The roof can be left open on summer days and closed during the colder days; in a heated pool application, the retractable roof would also help keep heating costs down.

The roofs can be retrofitted to existing residences or designed when planning a new home. Retractable roofs offer automated operation with a remote control as well as rain sensors that close the roof automatically when the first drops of rain are sensed.

According to Mr Gillan, the most popular systems for residential applications are made from 16mm multiwall polycarbonate because they are lighter and use tubular motors. Significantly stronger than triple-wall polycarbonate, polycarbonate eliminates 99 per cent of harmful UV rays and is available in a large range of colours to match design schemes.

Libart retractable roofs are also available with glass panels, which are much heavier with their worm drives. The panels are 29mm thick, laminated and double glazed, combining the strength of a toughened laminated section and an outer tinted toughened glass separated by an argon gas layer for enhanced durability to reduce solar transmissions while providing maximum insulation.