Residential Roofing: Shingle Roofs

Asphalt shingles are currently the most popular type of residential roof material for a variety of reasons. They are relatively inexpensive, starting at around $1.20 per square foot installed and go up from there. Things that determine cost are geographical location, slope of the roof, height of the building, ease of access to the premises, complexity of the project, the particular type of shingle and numerous other factors. They come in a variety of colors and styles, are fairly durable (some have been tested and have achieved a class IV hail rating – the highest available!), and can be easily repaired and maintained.

What Are Asphalt Shingles?

Asphalt shingles come in two basic types: glass fiber (a.k.a. fiber glass) and organic. Organic shingles consist of an organic felt material which is generally paper saturated with asphalt to make it waterproof. A top coating of adhesive asphalt is then applied and the ceramic granules are then embedded. Organic shingles contain around 40% more asphalt per square (100 sq. ft.) than their glass fiber counterpart which makes them weigh more and gives them excellent durability and blow-off resistance.

Glass fiber shingles have a glass fiber reinforcing mat manufactured to the shape of the shingle. This mat is then coated with asphalt which contains mineral fillers. The glass fiber mat is not waterproof by itself. Its purpose is for reinforcement. What makes the glass fiber shingle waterproof is the asphalt. However, the asphalt itself will not stick to the mat. For this reason, “fillers” are used. The fillers in the asphalt cling to the glass fibers in the mat. The asphalt then encapsulates the glass fibers, fills all of the holes and voids in the mat rendering it waterproof. After this cools a bit, an adhesive asphalt is used to cover the mat and the ceramic granules are then embedded.

The ceramic granules are there for two reasons. The primary reason is to protect the shingles from the sun. The sun’s UV rays are very damaging to asphalt and cause it to deteriorate prematurely. This is one of the same reasons that gravel is used on built-up roofs. The second , more obvious reason for the granules is aesthetics. Asphalt shingles are available in a wide variety of colors to match almost any facade or landscape.

So which type is better? By far, the more popular shingles are the glass fiber ones. This may be attributed to the fact that they are cheaper and easier to manufacture than organic shingles . This makes these shingles more cost effective to the homeowner and easier to work with for the roofing contractors.

Life Expectancy of Shingle Roofs

The lifespan of asphalt shingles depends highly upon the environment. Shingles in cooler climates such as the northern United States seem to last longer than those installed in the warmer climates. Studies have shown that the average lifespan for a 20 year shingle in Phoenix , Arizona is around 14 years. In Minneapolis , Minnesota , the lifespan was 19.5 years. And in Reading , Pennsylvania , the lifespan was 20.8 years. From this data it seems obvious that the hotter the environment is, the shorter the service life of the shingles.

In addition to UV rays, Thermal Shock is also very damaging to shingles. Thermal Shock is what roofing materials experience when the ambient temperature changes dramatically within a very short period of time – usually 24 hours. For example, in Eureka , California , the temperatures during a summer day can often reach 100 degrees and at night, they’ll often drop below 50, sometimes as low as 40. Roofing materials are unable to expand and contract to accommodate such a dramatic temperature change in such a short period of time so cracks and splits in the materials start occurring. Water can then enter the materials and damage them further in two ways. The continuous presence of water will permit algae and fungus to grow on asphalt materials. The freeze-thaw cycle that results from the dramatic temperature change will also deteriorate shingles. In the cold months, water will get into the cracks and then freeze at night. Water expands as it freezes so the more this occurs, the bigger the cracks or splits become. This is why most roofing contractors and consultants are such big advocates of sloped roofs. The better the roof sheds water, the less problems it will usually experience. Still another factor affecting asphalt shingle roofs is attic ventilation. Proper roof ventilation has been known to extend the service life of a roof.

Tile Roofing

Tile roofing is definitely becoming one of the most popular materials used in roofing. It is available in concrete or clay, and in many different colors and shapes. Its versatility gives homeowners the ability to find something that matches their home. Concrete roofing tiles offer elegant, long-term aesthetics for house designs and improved marketability for the builder. They also provide greater protection to the homeowner.

Roofing tiles come in all different varieties. Shingle, shake and slate are just some of the varieties of tile. When it comes to concrete tiles, the texture, hue and shape are no issue at all. In fact, they often don’t end up looking like tile at all. In the southwest and parts of Florida, shapes of Spanish mission and rounded tile are widely popular.

Drawbacks To Tile Roofing

The main drawback to tile is its weight. It is important to know before hand whether or not your roof structure can hold the weight of tile. It is recommended that you consult with your roofing contractor to make sure the existing roof structure can support it. Expect to pay similar prices to wood roofing with this material, but unlike wood, this product will last well over 50 years, requires very little maintenance, and poses no fire hazard.

Keep in mind, the installed price is not the only factor determining the overall cost of installing tile roofing. You also need to take into account the maintenance costs, the guarantee of the roofing material, and the resale value. It is helpful to know that tile roofing offers a Class A fire rating which not only provides safety for everything under the roof, but also reduces insurance costs and will add to the resale value. Lastly, concrete roofing tiles are energy efficient which will save on heating and cooling bills all year round.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofs have become a popular alternative to traditional roofing materials. This is due to the fact that metal is lightweight, maintenance-free, fireproof, energy efficient, durable, and can be manufactured to give virtually any look conceivable. Furthermore, metal roofs have a life expectancy of over 30 years and houses with metal roofs may receive a discount on the homeowner’s (fire) insurance.

Metal roofing may start at $100 per square and run up to $600 a square or more for coated steels and copper. They cost more to install than shingle roofs, but the difference is not as great when re-roofing. In addition, metal roofs can be applied over several layers of old shingles, so the tear-off expenses are eliminated. And most metal roof manufacturers also provide a lifetime warranty.

Metal Roofing Material

The two most common metal roofing materials are painted aluminum and steel. Both are durable and light weight. For those that enjoy the look of tile or slate, the lighter weight aluminum or steel can resemble the look and also be supported by your roof structure. Copper and stainless steel are also metal roofing options, but their cost is often outside of the budget of many homeowners.

Aluminum is fast-becoming a top choice because it does not rust, it deafens the sound of rain, and it is easily formed to perfectly simulate cedar shakes, tiles, and slate. Simulated cedar shakes are most popular and are difficult to distinguish from real shakes. They are available in many standard colors and in a few energy efficient paint options. Most aluminum and steel roofs are painted with tough Kynar (a dense, high-purity plastic).

Slate Roofing

Slate is one of the most aesthetically pleasing and durable of all roofing materials. Installed properly, slate roofs require little maintenance and offer a life expectancy of hundreds of years. The lifespan of a slate roof depends greatly on the type of slate employed, the roof configuration, and the geographical location of the property. In addition, as with tile roofing, the weight of slate may be an issue. Before selecting slate for your roof, it is important to make sure the structure of your roof can handle the weight.