WE ARE OFTEN ASKED BY PROSPECTIVE CUSTOMERS, "WHAT’S THE BEST ROOF?"
Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut answer to this question – the best roofing product is different for each home and homeowner.
When trying to determine which roofing product to use, homeowners need to decide which of a number of factors are most important to them. These include warranty length, aesthetics such as color or texture, manufacturer reputation, neighborhood requirements, product history in the area, and so on.
There are five basic categories of roofing products that have been proven to work well on sloped roofs in our marine Northwest climate. These products are asphalt shingles, metal, cedar, concrete and clay tiles, and natural slate. Each product has its own set of strengths and weaknesses, and should be evaluated in relation to your particular needs. To help you make an educated decision, we’ve compiled information about each of these products, along with some of their pros and cons.
Asphalt shingles, also called composition shingles, are by far the most common residential roofing product in use. Most estimates place their combined market share in excess of eighty percent. Asphalt shingles are grouped into two basic categories: 3-tab and architectural. 3-tab shingles are the most common and least expensive, and they generally come with a manufacturer’s warranty of twenty to thirty years.
3-tab shingles are utilitarian and economical. Most manufacturers of asphalt products make a 3-tab shingle, and there is very little aesthetic difference between the various brands. These products perform well with a minimal amount of maintenance. On the downside, they are not typically considered to enhance the value of homes. In the case of exceptional quality homes especially, the use of a 3-tab shingle can adversely affect the value of the property.
The other main type of asphalt shingle is broadly referred to as "architectural." These products have warranties that range from thirty years to lifetime, and they greatly vary in appearance from one manufacturer to the next. There are architectural shingles that mimic the look of cedar shingles or shakes, slate and – to an extent – even tile. Another positive: even the more expensive architectural shingles still make for a relatively economical roofing system.
METAL ROOFING PRODUCTS
Metal roofing products, like asphalt, come in a variety of types. The most common is what is known as “standing seam.” This type of product consists of a series of interlocking panels, usually steel, that extend from the eave line to the ridge. Standing seam is becoming a popular material because of its clean look, low maintenance costs, and durability.
Also available in metal are various shapes of products that capture the look of tile, cedar shakes, and even slate. Metal tile, shakes, and shingles are available in steel and other metals. As with standing seam metal roofing, these products are pleasing to look at, durable, and tend to have low maintenance costs.
Cedar roofing products have been used in the Pacific Northwest for decades. Because of its abundance and its lightweight and durable qualities, it is a natural for use in protecting the home.
The most common type of cedar roofing products are shakes and shingles. In general, cedar shakes have a split-face surface exposed to the weather and are twenty-four inches in length. Cedar shingles, on the other hand, are sawn and are normally sixteen inches long.
The use of cedar as a roofing product decreased for a number of years due to high maintenance costs and limited availability, but the advent of treated cedar products has boosted its use. Preservative-treated cedar shakes combine the qualities of a natural product with a chemical treatment that resists moss, algae, lichen, and other organisms that can shorten the life of the roof.
Roofing tiles have been in use for centuries internationally and have become more common in the Pacific Northwest over the last twenty to twenty-five years. They are available in both traditional clay and concrete.
Generally, properly fired clay tiles are the most durable of roofing materials. A clay tile roof that has been “vitrified” (hardened to a glass-like state by heat and fusion) can easily last over 100 years, even in our damp climate. The primary disadvantages of clay roofing products are that they are relatively heavy and costly. Clay tiles are available in a variety of styles, including traditional barrel, flat interlocking, and shingle styles. Colors range from common red and orange to exotic glazed greens, silvers, and blues.
Compared to clay, concrete tiles are a more economical choice. Concrete tiles still have the same weight disadvantage as clay tiles but are generally less expensive. Though also very durable, concrete tiles will not last as long as vitrified clay tiles. They are available in traditional barrel styles as well as flat, interlocking shingle/shake types.
Natural quarried stone roofing materials have been in use for centuries. Slate, the best-known stone roofing material, is a durable and beautiful product, but, due to its high cost, is not widely used. Like clay and concrete tiles, slate is a heavy product, so the home must be structured to support its weight.
The looks that can be achieved with a slate roof are as varied as the installer’s imagination. Single color/single width products are most common, but multicolor and random width looks can add tremendous appeal to the exterior of a home. As with better clay products, slate can last up to 100 years or more with proper maintenance.
Glenn Robb has been in the roofing industry for twenty-four years, working as both a manufacturer’s representative and estimator/salesman in the roofing/construction
business. He can be reached at 253-548-3197 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Article originally appeared in Remodel South Sound Magazine