We are planning to retrofit a 5'x7' corner porch cover to fit under the eaves/gutter. We will be using corrugated plastic roof panels because they are light weight and we can made a 1/4"/12" pitch. We need ideas on how to make this look architecturally attractive so the plastic panels don't show, making it look like a cheap mobile home. What is a facade concept we could use to make it look like it 'ties' into the house a little better?
One of my business partners is a roofing and gutter company in Eastern NC. It varies, but code requires a membrane roof on a .25/12 pitch and I have seen a number of houses around here with a small covered entry like what you describe with a EPDM (black rubber membrane) roof. Typically it will be trimmed with a metal edge band and doesn't look bad at all.
My concern, at least around here, would be when we get a good rain with wind involved. The water may not drain off fast enough and if the wind pushes it against the house, you have potential for water to find it's way in. Therefore, I would recommend flashing the membrane up behind the siding or fascia depending on how you frame the roof.
EPDM (rubber membrane) roofs this small are within the realm of possibilities for a do it yourselfer. Be sure to do your homework on how to install these and take your time to get any and all wrinkles out of it.
We really need to see a photo of the house to make specific suggestions. Here's one that would lead to a more modern look. The idea is to frame out a 'level' frame with the roof inside it. From the ground, it appears to be a horizontal awning and you can clad it any way you see fit. Here's a crude ascii sketch showing a side-view cutaway:
---------------------------------------------------- |**************** | | **************** | | **************** | ----------------------------------------------------
Dashes = 'box' Asterisks = sloped roof within.
For an entirely different look...rustic, consider going with exposed corrugated steel...perhaps pre-rusted. again, it all depends on the aesthetic you are looking for.
Finally, it sounds like the low-slope is due to a desire to install below the existing gutter. I'd suggest not doing that and install above the gutter. There are a number ways to do this. Here's an example of one:
Best way to improve looks is to rebuild it so that the roof has a real slope to match other parts of the house 4/12, 5/12 6/12 etc. To get that slope tie the rafters up higher on the side wall of the upper level or merge into the upper roof. Then roof this with roofing to match the rest of the house.
Nearly flat roofs with corrugated plastic / fiber glass are always going to look tacky.
The supporting structure (a pergola) is what's going to 'hide' the corrugated material. If I can see corrugated roofing from the ground, I expect it to be supported by one. Otherwise it does look really tacky.
Pergola With Corrugated Roof: (Google image search)
Although I'd suggest going with metal for durability (and as pictured), neither material in and of themselves have as much say on aesthetics as the entire design aspect does. You don't hide it: you incorporate it.
I will say though, that no matter how you support it, using metal instead of plastic is the first step in making me think you ever cared about aesthetics. The house I grew up in had a plastic one that turned ugly yellow, developed cracks and eventually shattered.
With no picture of your house, I can't advise on how to tie it in, but my point is that it doesn't have to. It can be its own 'thing'. And if your house is plain looking, it may BE the only thing, and then you can (and should) design it to your heart's content.
An alternate way of looking at it, is to ask yourself how you can make it stand out in lieu of hiding it. When I say "it" I mean the entire project, not just the roofing. Also with the proper artistic touch (and especially once it starts rusting), using metal puts you into the realm of shabby chic or rustic, both are far from the land of cheap mobile home.