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Roofing Material Choices

In this article, we’ll consider the most common choices for a homeowner when it comes to roofing materials. Included in the material descriptions is a scale relating to cost and another to durability, with 5 being the best and 1 being the worst in each area. As an example: a roof that is inexpensive and durable will receive high marks in both categories. These scales are then added together to give an overall rating for each material.

Asphalt Shingles

The positive aspects of asphalt shingles, which are still the most popular choice for roof coverings in America, include low installation and maintenance costs. Roofs made out of these shingles come in different grades. The better the grade, the longer the life-expectancy, which ranges from 15 to 30-plus years. The asphalt covering is really a composite made up of either a fiberglass or rag mat with asphalt, which is covered with colored mineral granules. Multi-layered shingles give this otherwise thin material, improved dimension making it resemble other thicker materials. Asphalt shingles also come in a variety of colors and styles. Individual shingles may be replaced if damaged. One additional advantage of asphalt shingles is that in certain circumstances, they can be installed over an existing roof of asphalt shingles, eliminating the need to remove the old roof.
(Cost: 4 Durability 4 Total 8.0)

Asphalt Rolled Roofing

This material, although inexpensive, has numerous drawbacks, including a short life expectancy of about ten years and the need for continued maintenance. It is used on flat roofs or those with low slopes. Water will often gather on flat roofs, causing more rapid deterioration, and ice and sun also take their toll on this covering. Problems usually develop at the seams between the rolls of asphalt, which are sealed with tar. Rolled asphalt needs to be constantly monitored and regularly swept clean of debris..
(Cost: 4.5 Durability 2 Total 6.5)

Metal Roofing

Lightweight, durable and flexible in terms of look, metal is becoming a choice for those who can spend the money. More expensive than most other materials, except for slate, metal comes in a wide range of shapes, styles and colors. It can imitate the look of tile, asphalt or slate, be colored in virtually any manner and is available in panels or shingles. Metal roofs are good for 40 years or more and most come with a lifetime warranty.
(Cost: 3 Durability: 4.5 Total: 7.5)

Rubber Roofing

Rubber roofing, also known as single ply synthetic membrane roofing, is most often seen on low or flat-sloped homes and is usually used in roof replacement. It comes in sheets and is applied over a layer of foam, which has been sprayed over the existing roof. It’s durable, flexible and a good insulator. Although more expensive than rolled asphalt, which is also used on flat roofs, it lasts a lot longer—from 30 to 40 years.
(Cost: 3.5 Durability: 4 Total 7.5)

Slate Roofing

This material is extremely durable and graceful, coming in a variety of looks, while offering low maintenance costs. Typically, colors are grey, black and red. Like tile, slate carries the onus of extra weight and this high-quality roofing material is quite expensive. However a slate roof can last well over 100 years with little or no maintenance.
(Cost: 2.5 Durability: 5 Total: 7.5)

Spray Polyurethane Foam (SPF) Roofing

SPF is the new kid on the block. It’s lightweight and flexible in application. The foam, which is an excellent insulator, is applied as a liquid mixture, making it ideal for building up the slope of a roof and for roofs that have an assortment of odd angles. Foam is comparable in price to wood and extremely durable. Over the course of about 10 years, some foams require a few quick additional applications. This material is not recommended for roofs that will see heavy foot traffic, and squirrel, bird and other critter activity can compromise its integrity. Under optimum circumstances, foam can last for about 30 years.
(Cost: 3.5 Durability: 4 Total: 7.5)

Tile Roofing

Aesthetically, homeowners are drawn to the look and the innumerable colors of tile. Styles include mission, rounded and flat. Priced around the same as wood, tile is made of either concrete or clay and normally lasts well over 50 years. Although there’s little maintenance, there are two provisos regarding this roofing material—the underpinning for your roof must be able to handle the extra weight that tile carries and replacement costs are high.
(Cost: 3.5 Durability: 4.5 Total: 8.0)

Wood Shingles and Shakes

Wood roofing, which comes in cedar, red wood and cypress, lasts longer and is more expensive than asphalt. It can be viable for up to thirty-five years and many people enjoy it for the natural look it provides. Fire resistant shingles that are pressure treated with preservatives are the safest and last the longest. With age, wood may become brittle or shrink, causing the roof covering to be compromised. Individual shingles may be replaced as needed.
(Cost 3.5 Durability 4 Total 7.5)

Choosing which type of roof is right for you will depend upon numerous factors, including your budget, taste and needs. Take time to shop around for the right roofing material and for a reliable contractor who will deliver what you want.


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