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Choices for a New Roof

Asphalt Shingles, Metal Roofs, Solar Shingles, and More.

© 2016 by all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without author’s written permission. Author’s Google profile

A shake shingle wood roof

Even though roofing materials typically come with impressive warranties, the fact of the matter is that they must brave the worst that mother nature can throw out there. Rain, snow, hail, and the hot summer heat, all these conspire to lead homeowners toward an eventual roof replacement.

The only question is what type of roof do you want? There are more choices today than ever before. Each home has its own requirements and homeowners all have their preferences.

The important things other than considering your particular climate are to be compliant with your local building code and the rules imposed by your homeowner’s association, if applicable. Let’s examine a few.

Metal Roofs Offer Long Life

Reroofing with metal is always a good choice if you intend to remain in your home for a long time or are concerned with your home equity. Yes, metal roofs cost more than shingles but they offer many unique benefits.

They resist hail damage, won’t burn in a fire, and are very energy efficient. Some insurance companies will give customers a price break on their homeowners insurance policy. There are many styles of metal roofs; your home need not look like a convenience store.

Asphalt Shingles are an Affordable Roof Replacement

Asphalt 3-tab composition shingles are the most common reroofing material. In a large part, this is because they are so affordable. However, all shingles are not created equal. The least expensive ones are thin and give a very flat appearance.

Stepping up in cost and attractiveness are architectural-grade shingles. These give your roof more of a 3-D look. They have been around since the 1970s and are getting more popular all the time.

When having a roof replacement, it is always a good idea to invest a bit more money to have algae and fungal resistant roofing materials installed. If you have ever seen roofs with inverted ice cream-looking stains, you know how they detract from the look of the home.

These stains do not affect the effectiveness of the roof very much, but from an aesthetic standpoint, it’s bad. Algae resistant shingles usually incorporate copper based oxide. This does not make your shingles algae-proof but it will certainly keep the stains to a minimum.

Solar Shingles Show Promise

Solar shingles, or solar roof panels, are a relatively new roof replacement choice. At this point they are still difficult to install and are a bit unwieldy because of the wiring issues but the technology shows promise for future use.

It does make more sense to use solar shingles rather than loading up bulky solar panels on top of your composition shingles.

Cedar Shake Shingles

This is a good choice for the homeowner that is looking for a very traditional look. Cedar shingles are low maintenance and long lasting but they do pose a very real fire hazard.

Wood in general is very flammable but cedar is particularly so. It’s main features are good looks and weather-resistance. Obviously this is not a good choice in wildfire-prone areas like some parts of California.

Durable Membrane Roofing

Although traditionally membrane roofing has been restricted to the commercial market, it is now beginning to catch on in the residential market. This is not because of its looks but rather for its functionality.

It is usually chosen for flat or nearly flat roofs to prevent leaks and move water off the roof. Here are a few of the most common types.

  • Synthetic Rubber (Thermoset). This type of membrane roofing material is made of large, flat pieces of synthetic rubber or related materials.

    The pieces are bonded together at the seams to form one continuous membrane. The finished roof’s thickness is generally somewhere between 30 and 60 mils(thousandths of an inch) (0.75 mm to 1.50 mm).

  • Thermoplastic Membrane. This one is similar to the synthetic rubber, however the seams are generally heat-fused (welded) in order to form a continuous membrane.

    The lap seams may also be fused with special solvents rather than heat, and can be as strong as the rest of the membrane.

  • Modified Bitumen. This type is an evolution of conventional asphalt roofing. It’s formulated from asphalt and a variety of rubber modifiers and solvents.

    There are a number of methods of connecting contiguous pieces of this material.

    In a heat application process the seams are heated to melt the asphalt together and create a seal. There is also hot-mopped application, similar to how conventional built-up roofs are installed.

    Cold-applied adhesives and self-adhesive membranes are two of the more recent options. This material is also referred to as APP, SBS, and SEBS.

How to Know when You Need New Roofing

It is always a good idea to do a roof inspection twice a year — during the fall and the first thing during the spring. This is the best way to know when you need a roof replacement.

A leak does not necessarily mean your roof cannot last another season; small issues can be patched. Check if your shingles are cracking, examine your flashing, and give all your roof penetrations a good look. These include chimneys, skylights, and plumbing vents (stink pipes).

If you are considering other factors to help you decide on new roofing materials, please feel free to share with other readers in the comment section below!

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