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Best Roofing Materials – A Compete Guide

The roof of a house serves multiple purposes.

It protects the occupants of the home from not just natural elements like rain and snow but also from UV light and dust or man-made debris.

It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that the roof is one of the most vital components of the house.

Therefore, the materials used in its construction hold the utmost significance.

Are you building a home or having your roof redone?

Are you wondering what your available options are when it comes to the best roofing material?

Here we shed some light on everything that you need when in the market for the most effective material for your roof.

Research is important before making such a choice as it is a decision that lasts a long time.

Why It Is Important to Make the Right Choice with Roofing Materials

The exterior of the house and the roof in particular is exposed to the elements on a regular basis.

Water, heat, various kinds of debris and a host of other things continue to come in contact with the roof over time.

This means that a roof has to withstand continuous onslaught and still shelter the people inside.

The rough gray structure of the roof, if left exposed can become quite dangerous.

This is the reason roofing materials are essential in the first place.

Not only do they facilitate protection against the elements but also serve a purpose in enhancing the aesthetic appeal of your residence.

There is a vast array of materials used for roofing these days and all of them have their own properties.

The best roofing material can vary depending on several factors which means that making a choice here can be challenging.

Flat Roofs vs. Slanted Roofs

When building a home, people have a choice of building a flat or pitched/slanted roof.

Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Although plain roofs are slightly slanted to allow drainage of water but if it snows heavily in your area, getting the accumulated snow off the roof can become an issue.

Flat roofs are less expensive to build because they cover smaller surface area.

In terms of durability, pitched roofs have an edge because it restricts people walking on them but even then, they can last between 10 and 25 years based on the material used in construction.

Pitched roofs are relatively low maintenance as compared to flat ones because much of the dust and debris tends to slide off the former.

All-in-all, the choice eventually comes down to personal preferences because the merits and demerits are almost even.

Types of Roofing Materials Available

The variety of materials available on the market today when talking about roofing is enormous.

From asphalt to wood, PVC to fiberglass and more modern options like solar panel tiles, homeowners are spoiled for choice when they enter the market.

People can keep their preferences in mind and then make a purchase decision accordingly.

Here are some of the most commonly used roofing materials along with why or why not they are a considerable choice.

Asphalt

Mostly used on pitched or slanted roofs, they are one of the most traditional yet aesthetic roofing materials available on the market.

They are not purely asphalt because that would add a lot of weight to the roof causing structural problems.

The shingles are made from asphalt and ceramic granules with fiberglass in the middle making the end product light and easy to install.

There are two types of asphalt shingles available.

The first are laminated shingles which have multiple layers to add thickness and depth.

In terms of appearance, they look similar to wood shakes or slate.

The second type is organic shingles which are made from paper that is mostly recycled.

They are then saturated with asphalt and granules to create a hard texture.

Organic shingles have been discontinued by most manufacturers as they dry out in short spans of time making them unreliable as the best roofing material.

The Benefits of Asphalt Roofing

Asphalt is relatively inexpensive.

There are a lot of different designs to choose from and the overall look that they offer to your roof is beautiful.

They are lightweight which reflects to a lower installation cost overall.

Despite the weight, they are sturdy and can protect the house against normal climatic variations but struggle with more extreme weather systems.

Asphalt shingles are long lasting which, with an appropriate maintenance schedule can last up to 30 years.

They also reflect sunlight well ensuring the home remains relatively cool despite high temperatures outside.

This roofing material is trusted by most homeowners across the US serving as a stamp of credibility to their reliable nature.

The Drawbacks

As mentioned earlier, they don’t hold well against violent thunderstorms or strong winds and can cause extensive damage to your home.

Another disadvantage of asphalt is that it collects dust, debris and other products quite a lot.

Accumulated rain water can encourage mold and algae growth on the roof if left unattended for a long period of time.

Therefore, regular maintenance is key in making sure that they last as long as they are estimated to.

Wood

If as a homeowner, style and looks are a priority then wood is one of the most preferred options.

When picking the best roofing materials, wood shingles or shakes can be used.

The difference between these two types is that where the former is machine cut, shakes are sawed by hand to give them a more rustic appearance.

Various types of wood are used in making shingles and shakes.

These include but are not limited to redwood, western red cedar, pine, cypress, Atlantic white cedar and spruces.

Each type of wood has its own distinct properties and looks creating a different visual appeal as well as experience.

Once again, this roofing material is preferred for pitched roofs rather than flat ones.

Advantages of Wooden Roofs

Wooden roofs are light and almost as durable as other roofing materials.

They are highly susceptible to fire but manufacturers and installers have developed various ways to tackle with the challenge.

The first is fire-retardant spray which protects the surface of the shingles or shakes on the roof.

A more effective solution is pressure treatment done mostly by manufacturers.

It is more reliable and long lasting.

Further treatments are also available to make the wood resistant to Class A, B and C fires.

Wood shingles are rated to withstand air speeds of 173 mph and shakes and resist much more, with resistance ratings up to wind speeds of 245 mph.

While there are drawbacks, wood roofing can last anywhere between 20 to 25 years.

Disadvantages of Wooden Roofs

Holistically speaking, wood has more disadvantages than advantages.

Firstly, they are much more expensive than other materials.

Their high vulnerability to fires has led them to be banned in certain states with high probabilities of wildfires.

Insurance companies also charge higher rates at times if a house has a wooden roof.

The fire-retardant spray treatment done on roofs can last only about 2 years. Over time, heat and UV rays will break down the chemicals resulting in the risks of fire to return.

Wood is also high maintenance as exposure to water leaves it prone to fungal growth and even termites.

After long times of exposure to the elements, wood also begins to lose its color, turning a shade of gray eventually.

Tiles

The next choice for homeowners trying to build their dream abode are tiles.

Made from either clay, concrete or other hardware materials like synthetic composite, tiles are extremely long lasting.

With the proper maintenance, some tiles can last well over 100 years.

However, they don’t offer a lot of choices when it comes to design and appearance.

Tiles are preferred by roofing experts over asphalt due to their durability and pricing.

They cost more than asphalt shingles but less than wood no matter which material is chosen.

Unlike wood or asphalt, tiles can be used on both flat and slanted roofs making them ideal for any design.

Over the years, tiles have seen the incorporation of modern technologies like the Tesla Solar Tiles which we’ll discuss in detail further down the list.

Why Tiles Are a Good Choice

Unlike wood, tiles have advantages that far outweigh their disadvantages.

For starters, tiles in any material are great insulators allowing homes to remain cool even when the sun is blazing outside.

Their life and resilience in the face of extreme weather conditions make them a preferable choice as the best roofing material for homes in many areas.

Tiles are also fire-resistant thus, adding another layer of protection to the home.

They are rigid and strong but their weight can come as a disadvantage too.

Any type of tile is a low maintenance option for roofing as they are not liable to some of the issues which plague wood or asphalt.

Typically tiles cost between $9 to $25 per ft2 depending on the material they are made from.

Why Tiles May Not Be a Good Choice

Of course, tiles are not perfect and have their demerits.

Their weight is the biggest one because it can compromise the structural integrity of the entire house.

If a person planes to go with tiles as the roofing material, they have to make sure that the foundations of the home are built with enough support to hold their weight.

Tiles can also break easily.

This can be a concern for when they are installed on flat roofs which experience a lot of foot fall.

Even if the roof is slanted and the area where the home is experiences hail, this can damage the roof.

These issues are not very significant though and can be tackled with a little planning and care.

PVC

PVC roofing materials are tailored more towards functionality and less towards style.

They can only be installed on a flat roof and don’t offer much in terms of customization.

PVC stands for Polyvinyl Chloride and a polyester sheet is inserted in the membrane to add flexibility as well as rigidity.

They can be installed either through screws but the preferable choice is to have them heat welded which ensures maximum protection and life.

PVC was invented back in 1966 and is a German invention for flat roofs across the world.

Merits of PVC Roofing

PVC is excellent as an insulation material.

They have few style options with the most common being plain white sheets that can reflect sunlight and UV rays very effectively.

As a roofing material.

PVC is extremely durable even when exposed to natural or man-made issues.

They have a Class A fire rating along with a high uplift wind classification.

Another advantage of PVC is that it is resistant to chemicals like oil and grease.

With proper installation, PVC roofs can last between 20 to 30 years making them an ideal choice if durability is the top priority.

Demerits of PVC Roofing

PVC is expensive and can cost anywhere between $75 to $250.

The lack of style options is another reason why most home owners don’t go with PVC as the roofing material of choice.

Installation of PVC is another challenge.

They must be professionally installed after adequate cleaning or else there is a risk of membrane punctures.

In extremely cold weather, PVC can also become brittle and crack exposing your home to the outside.

If it comes in contact with fire, despite being self-containing once the source is removed, PVC can exude a lot of harmful chemicals which are detrimental to a person’s health.

Solar Panels

One of the newest, most advanced additions to the list of roofing materials available today are solar panel tiles.

Pioneered by Tesla, the renowned automotive manufacturer, these tiles are a style statement for a house with a modern design.

They mix functionality with style to create a near perfect combination not just today but for the homes of the future too.

Sadly, solar tiles are not at the end of their development stages yet and are constantly undergoing research as well as refinement.

They are available in the market but companies are working to better various aspect about them.

They are available in the form of both shingles and tiles which are embedded with photovoltaic materials that connect to form a solar power grid to power your home.

Advantages

Solar tiles are by far the best roofing material if one can afford them.

They are unique and beautifully styled to add that luxurious touch to your home.

Solar shingles can produce up to 110 watts per square meter whereas tiles can generate 70 watts.

Durability is also not a concern as they can remain functional for as long as 30 years with proper maintenance.

Besides the obvious benefits of delivering clean, sustainable energy to your home, solar tiles and shingles have a Class A fire rating.

They can also significantly withstand hail as they are rated Class 4 for damages from hail.

Wind speeds of a maximum 130 mph can be dealt with by these tiles.

As time progresses and technology advances, we are bound to see prices for solar tiles drop dramatically.

Disadvantages

The biggest drawback of solar tiles is obviously the fact that they are not fully developed yet.

Despite their numerous benefits the tiles are still a bit unreliable.

Coupled with this, they are extremely expensive especially if a home owner decides to go with Tesla tiles or shingles.

Solar tiles are also tricky to install with only a limited number of technicians having proper experience with them.

Factors to Consider When Picking the Best Roofing Material

Now that we’ve listed down the choices of roofing materials available, there are other, more relevant considerations in a decision-making process.

The location where a home is being built along with personal preferences of the homeowner contribute greatly to the final choice. So, before making a final decision, the following factors should be borne in mind:

Costs

This is one of the biggest factors in the process of decision making for most homeowners.

Moreover, its not just the cost of the roofing material but also installation and labor.

Put together, even if visually some type of roofing may seem more appealing, budget constraints can take it out of reach.

Asphalt is the most affordable in terms of pricing and also offers design choices.

Laminated shingles are followed by tiles and then wood in terms of pricing.

Solar tiles are an exclusive option although they are extremely lucrative.

The best roofing material market can offer other choices as well like concrete or metal but these are relatively outdated and less commonly used options for home roofing.

Maintenance

Almost every roofing material can last more than a decade easily but ensuring their durability has a lot to do with maintenance.

Without proper care, even the most professionally installed and resilient materials can begin to fall apart.

The overall weather of the area a person lives in has a lot to do with how frequently maintenance should be scheduled on the roof.

Most materials like tiles and shingles are inclined to get damaged over time due to the weather.

Rain, snow and heat can all have their own particular effects on the roofing materials.

Maintenance costs can vary depending on how regular they are and overall environmental conditions.

Tiles are by far the most long lasting with relatively low maintenance so they are an ideal contender in this category.

Durability

Once again, although tiles are rated the most durable, they can be eliminated from the choice list due to associated costs.

All roofing materials have substantial fire, wind and hail resistance ratings making them robust.

Wood shingles are not very effective against fires but that is a danger only when living in areas with high temperatures or risks of wildfires.

All other materials are extremely durable against natural and artificial elements but their overall life as well as resistance has to be considered when making a choice.

Appearance

Functions like long-life and costs can be discussed all day but at the end, looks do matter.

Every home owner wants their residence to look appealing even on the outside.

Thankfully, almost all types of roofing materials offer wide range of selection in terms of appearance.

There is no harm in having aesthetic appeal as the top priority but it should not be the only consideration.

If they can be afforded, solar tiles can provide a distinct and uplifting design to the overall place.

They are efficient, powerful and beautiful at the same time.

That being said, other options are also open for when it comes to enhancing the overall look of the house.

Consider tiles or asphalt as second choices for visual attraction.

Installation

Professional installation is paramount in all types of roofing.

The best roofing material is only the one which is carefully adhered to your roof.

If corners are cut in installation, even the most effective material can fail.

Roofing services in the US can cost between $5,000 to $12,000 depending on the type of material being used and whether it is a new installation or renovation after removal of previously installed panels.

These costs are important to factor in when making a choice.

Conclusion

The importance of a roof for the house can never be neglected but the top of the house will only be as good as the materials that are used on it.

There are several choices each with their own characteristics.

In the end, the choice rests with the homeowner and their family but be careful as choosing the best roofing material is often a lifetime investment.

Get it right once and you’ll be set for life!

With the information provided above, people can make more informed decisions when picking the right material for their roof.

It all depends on the budget, area, preferences and orientation towards aesthetics.

When all is considered, the final decision can bring peace of mind to the entire family.