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Best Roofing Materials

Best Roofing Materials: Roofing Material Pros and Cons

Asphalt Shingles

More than 70 percent of all single-family homes in the US are roofed with asphalt shingles, though that number is slowly shrinking thanks to more energy-efficient alternative roofing materials. Asphalt shingles dominate the market because they are affordable, offer a variety of attractive options and do a good job protecting homes from the elements.

Asphalt Shingles Pros:

  • Fiberglass shingles offer good fire protection
  • Shingles are often the most affordable roofing option, especially in good/better ranges
  • The best asphalt shingles are a 30-year roof solution installed on homes located in moderate climates
  • 3-tab shingles are an affordable way to dress up a home before putting on the market

Asphalt Shingles Cons:

  • Affordable asphalt shingles last as little as 10-12 years in hot, sunny climates
  • Rapid temperature changes can cause asphalt shingles to crack
  • A poorly vented attic will trap heat and significantly shorten asphalt shingle lifespan by cupping or cracking them
  • While the asphalt shingle industry boasts that its products can be recycled for paving, few recycling facilities take asphalt shingles, and they are among the least eco-friendly roofing options

Wood Shingles and Shakes

How are wood shingles and shakes different?

  • Wood shingles are machine-cut and feature cleaner edges and a smooth surface to produce a more uniform appearance.
  • Wood shakes are hand-cut from blocks of wood, so they have a more rustic appearance. They’re thicker too, so they’re slightly more expensive than wood shingles.

Wood Shingle Pros:

  • Wood has a natural beauty that ranges from rustic shakes to handsome, neat shingles
  • Cedar and redwood contain oils that make them naturally resistant to moisture and insects
  • Treated wood shingles have a Class A fire rating
  • They can last 5 to 10 years longer than asphalt, which makes them competitively priced with asphalt over their lifespan

Wood Shingle Cons:

  • Wood roofing is prohibited in some areas prone to wildfire, so be sure to check with your building department first
  • Untreated wood shakes and shingles are high maintenance – they need to be cleaned consistently to prevent the growth of algae or moss, and debris needs to be cleared to allow the wood to breathe
  • While DIY installation is possible if you have a good experience, faults in the installation can lead to quick deterioration of the roof which often includes serious leaks
  • Staining of the shingles and shakes might occur as natural factors cause tannins to be released from the wood

Roof Tiles

This ancient roofing option has been thoroughly modernized with newer and stronger materials that look fantastic.

Roof Tile Pros:

  • All types – clay, concrete, and fiber cement, offer 50+ years of durability
  • Tiles resist fire and insects
  • The rich aesthetics of tile increase curb appeal
  • Light-colored tile reflects sunlight, in turn reducing heat penetration and cooling requirements

Roof Tile Cons:

  • Tile is heavier than most roofing material and some types require extra framing support at a higher cost
  • The cost of tile is higher than asphalt, metal, and wood
  • Tiles may break if walked on, so repairing chimneys and other roofing issues is trickier when the roof is tile

Metal Roofing

Your great-grandfather’s home or barn might well have been roofed in metal, and some of those 100-year old roofs are still going strong. Metal roofing has enjoyed a recent resurgence led by demand for durability, eco-friendly roofing and the introduction of new styles.

Metal roofing is still manufactured in rolls, but most is rigid sheet roofing with vertical-seam panels and modular press-formed panels that can be painted or coated with granules.

The manufacturing processes allow for a variety of appearance options including the traditional metal roof style and roofing made to look like shingles, shakes and tiles. The most common metals used are aluminum, lightweight steel and zinc. Copper metal roofs are a beautiful but costly specialty!

Metal Roofing Pros:

  • New styles can mimic shingles, shakes, slate and tile, and dozens of colors are available
  • Metal is a 50 to 100-year roofing material with warranties of 30-50 years
  • Metal reflects solar radiant heat, keeping your home cooler and control energy costs in hot weather when compared with asphalt
  • Many metal roofing profiles have a Class A fire rating

Metal Roofing Cons:

  • The cost of metal roofing is higher (copper roofing is in a league of its own as the most expensive option) than asphalt shingles and wood roofing, but that is usually offset by its durability and longevity
  • Without an attic space or a proper substrate such as solid sheathing (boards or plywood), metal roofs installed over open framing and directly over living space can be noisier than other materials when the rain hits it
  • The material can dent when hit with a heavy object, and replacing metal panels is costlier than replacing asphalt, wood or tiles, although many metal roofing styles are rated to withstand large hail

Helping Veterans One Solar System at a Time

The Semper Cares Initiative was founded to help deserving veterans get relief from high electricity prices by blessing them with energy independence and the security of a secure roof over their heads.

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