Your home’s roof is a critical part of your home that helps to protect not only the outside of the structure but also interior. A roof should also contribute to the total look of the home design, so choosing the right roofing materials is an important consideration. In addition, some communities have special requirements for roofing materials, such as fire-resistance, which should be considered when deciding on a roof for your home. Homeowners have a wide choice of roofing materials available, and a closer look at these options can help you to determine the right one for your home’s needs.
Asphalt is the most common roofing material because of its affordability, durability and easy maintenance. Asphalt is available in a variety of colors to match individual home designs. Asphalt is relatively easy to repair, and involves using a sprayer and a solution of water and chlorine bleach to remove algae and moss. Asphalt roofs will last from 20 to 30 years. Higher quality “architectural” asphalt shingles are available that can resemble slate or wood shingle These tiles are slightly thicker than standard asphalt tiles and provide a better aesthetic appearance.
Shingles and Shake Roofs
The wood shingle is a time-honored roofing material that has stood the test of time. These roofs are often seen on the East Coast of the United States and certain northern areas of the country. Shingles are uniformly cut and shaped pieces of wood that are laid over an air permeable substrate that allows them to “breathe.” They are generally made of Western Red Cedar, Eastern White Cedar or Alaskan Yellow Cedar. Shingles and shakes are expensive to install and require periodic maintenance. Tiles must be laid in an overlapping manner to shed water properly. Shingles must be cleaned to remove mold and mildew, as well as re-oiled with a clear wood finisher. Wood shingle roofs will last from 30 to 50 years.
Slate roof tiles are made of natural stone that is cut into uniform size and installed on roofing substrates. The weight of the slate tiles is one of its largest drawbacks; it requires specific construction requirements to hold the tiles safely. Slate is also very expensive, and installation must be done correctly for the roof to maintain its longevity, an expected 150 years. Slate is fireproof, which makes it a good choice for areas of the country with frequent wildfires. However, slate is also fragile and should not be walked on by contractors that are not familiar with its needs. Slate requires no regular maintenance, but annual inspection should be done to find and repair cracks or gaps.
Metal roofs have been used for agricultural buildings and for residential homes in areas such as Florida. The materials used may be galvanized steel, zinc, tin, copper or aluminum. Prices between these materials vary significantly. Metal roofs are more expensive than the commonly seen asphalt roofs, but they can last for up to 50 years. Simple washing and inspection of connections is all that is needed for routine maintenance.
The most common type of ceramic tiles is called “barrel tiles,” 16-inch half-cylinders that are placed an interlocking pattern over a waterproof membrane. Because the tiles are quite heavy the supporting roof structure must be strong enough to hold the tiles. Ceramic tiles are very durable and can last for 60 to 80 years. However, ceramic tiles are more expensive than other types of roofing materials. Ceramic tiles are generally used in warmer climates where freezing temperatures will not crack the moisture that accumulates on tile surfaces. Pressure cleaning is generally used to clean dirt and mold from ceramic roof tiles.