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Which Roofing Material Will Best Suit Your Needs?

Last modified: 2022-10-06 | Approximate reading time 8 mins

Karine Dutemple

It should come as no surprise that the roof of your home is one of the most integral and important parts. A well-maintained, beautiful roof is essential for keeping interior temperatures regulated.

But maybe your current roofing simply isn’t up to snuff, whether that’s a result of damage and deterioration, or if you’re simply looking for a change. But, if you’re renovating your roof, how do you know what material is best? A roof renovation will greatly depend on the local climate, the style of your home, as well as your budget.

If you're looking to renovate or repair your roof and feel uncertain about your choice of roofing material, here are the various options available to you, as well as insights about their respective advantages and disadvantages.

The different roofing materials

roof shingles_Which Roofing Material Will Best Suit Your Needs?

Asphalt shingles

Above all, asphalt shingles are a true and timeless classic and are available in two forms: organic shingles and fibreglass shingles.

Organic shingles

When manufactured, organic shingles are recycled asphalt paper heated under pressure. These are recognized for their flexibility which greatly facilitates the installation during cold weather.

Moreover, their composition makes the material heavier and less susceptible to damage when exposed to strong winds and bad weather conditions. The uniformity of organic shingles allows them to efficiently conceal the slightest of roof imperfections. It should be mentioned that these shingles have a tendency to dry out and this causes them to absorb water as a result.

Fibreglass shingles

If we compare this type of shingle with the previous one, we can say that a fibreglass shingle has better endurance when it comes to withstanding heat. Having less asphalt in its composition, fibreglass shingles are simultaneously lighter and more affordable, while also being not as prone to curling. In contrast, let’s mention how important the installation of an underlayer is before shingle installation. Consider hiring a roofer.

Because of their growing popularity, fibreglass shingles are available in many colours and forms, and this type of roofing material often comes with a 20-year warranty. However, It’s impossible to ignore this material's lower resistance to temperature extremes.

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Organic and fibreglass shingles: the similarities

Despite their differences, these two types of shingles both have the capacity to preserve a mild temperature indoors by reflecting sun rays on your roof's surface.

As everything has a downside, it must be mentioned that black shingles contribute to higher indoor temperatures. Moreover, the installation process of this type of shingle requires particular care, otherwise, the roof can be exposed to water infiltration.

Let’s conclude by remembering that the quality-price ratio of this material is interesting, which is also the case for the fact that it requires little maintenance. Indeed, an inspection from time to time and the replacement of damaged shingles will be enough to maintain your roof with asphalt shingles. 

Pros: Asphalt comes in a variety of colours, and is an inexpensive, accessible material.

Cons: Asphalt is prone to curling, has a shorter lifespan than other materials, and the quality can vary from shingle to shingle.

Lifespan: 20 to 25 years

Elastomer roofing

As a result of their top-notch elasticity, an elastomer roof can handle the warmth of the sun and is also very resistant to wear and tear. As its joints are welded by fusion, the elastomeric roof is remarkably weatherproof.

This material’s impressive lifetime (between 25 and 40 years) will not prevent the material from being damaged due to stagnant water on its surface, which is something that can affect its life expectancy by almost 10 years. Also, you need to know that algae and ice can greatly damage this material. Sadly, note that an elastomer roof is not always recyclable and the possibility to do so is very different from one city to another.

You should know that this material is excellent at resisting extreme temperatures and that it's a good choice for a flat roof. What about maintenance? If this material is properly installed, it won’t need much. Although this material’s installation process does present some fire hazards, it’s worth knowing that it's possible to opt for a cold installation process. Therefore, this initial risk is now avoidable.

Let’s conclude by saying that to assure the best possible longevity for this roofing, you'll be required to install a ventilation system.

You have a flat roof? Check out our article Flat Roof Covering Options to find out all the options.

Wood shingles

wood shingles_Which Roofing Material Will Best Suit Your Needs?

Wood shingles are made from different types of wood and this includes pine, oak, and acacia. These shingles allow water to flow correctly and directly off the roof. Moreover, wood is a noble material, and it will offer your house great authenticity, which is something that only wood can bring.

Even though wood shingles were somewhat set aside in the early 20th century, it’s worth mentioning that they became more popular at the beginning of the ’80s. Some may hesitate to opt for this material as the wood used to manufacture shingles is less mature and therefore, often weaker than others.

Apart from that, it’s worth knowing that shingles with fibres that are not straight will have more chances to slip and become crooked.  We must highlight the fact that a roof made with wood shingles can last for 30 or 40 years if it has these characteristics:

  • It's made of eastern cedar (ideally)
  • The wood doesn’t contain any knots
  • The wood is grade A quality
  • The wood doesn’t have any sapwood (part of it that allows the sap to pass in the tree)
  • The wood grain is flat

We must specify that a bevelled shingle, one that has a slit, is best, as this type greatly reduces the chance that water will accumulate on the roof. Thus, it’s less likely that these shingles will deteriorate. Moreover, it’s well known that your best bet is to choose large wood shingles over smaller ones.

Pros: Wood shingles have unmatched beauty and charm and have an insulation value twice that of asphalt. Many wood shingles are made from salvaged trees. 

Cons: Certain municipal codes may prohibit the use of wood shingles due to fire safety issues. These shingles are a concern in wet climates as they can mould, split or rot. 

Lifespan: 25 to 30 years

Concrete and terracotta tiles

In some parts of the world, including Europe, clay or concrete shingle are the most popular for individual homes. In fact, this is due to their high resistance to frost and other tough weather conditions. 

It’s possible also to get tiles from different styles and colours. For this reason, they can mesh well with most homes. Terracotta tiles are both incombustible and rot-proof and it’s possible to say that they are the best choice for a roof with a slight incline and contrary to other materials, it is completely natural.

The lifespan of terracotta tiles on a roof is approximately 30 years, similar to other types of roofs. Let’s mention that a roof made in this material is better for sunny and wet climates and not ideal for cold climates like ours.

Finally, we must mention that a waterproofing membrane under the tiles is a necessity to block any possibility of water infiltration. For its maintenance, a good cleaning process is with water and soft soap is usually enough.

Concrete tiles

concrete tiles_Which Roofing Material Will Best Suit Your Needs?

Let’s begin by mentioning concrete tile roofing provides good resistance to temperature extremes, which is very interesting for colder areas. Also, concrete tiles resist impacts, acid rain, cold, humidity, sunrays and saline breeze.

Taking these notes into consideration, this material is available in a vast number of colours and forms. It’s also worth noticing that concrete tiles can be used in different methods on your roof.

Sadly, this installation requires the expertise of a professional due to its complexity. Moreover, since this material is smooth and slippery, the risk of injury must be taken seriously. Lastly, a waterproofing membrane is necessary to prevent water infiltration.

Another point worth stating: the price of concrete tiles is high (between $8,50 and $12.50 per square foot). It must be noted that a roof made of concrete tiles has a lifespan of 50 years, which makes its high cost profitable in the long term. Why such a high cost? Because of its manufacturing costs and the obligation to strengthen the roof structure to be able to support their weight.

What else can we say? First, concrete is incombustible, which allows homeowners that choose it to reduce their insurance fees. Also, it’s a good insulating material and its waterproofing properties make it an excellent roofing choice.

Concerning the maintenance, it should be noted that your roof needs to be cleaned from time to time, depending on outdoor conditions. If dirt seems to be inlaid in the tiles, a defoaming agent applied with a sprayer and the use of a brush will be necessary to properly clean the tiles. Obviously, everything needs to be cleaned at the end. Don’t ever use a pressure washer on the roof, because the force of this type of device will damage the surface. Let’s conclude with the fact that the sliding's colour may slightly fade over the years.       

​​Pros: Clay and concrete tiles are long-lasting and non-combustible. Concrete tiles are energy efficient.

Cons: Clay and concrete tiles are expensive, as well as heavy. This generally means they require additional framing.

Lifespan: 40 to 50 years

Slate roofing

A slate rooftop is one of the more durable and costly roofing materials. Slate offers a lot of personality to a home. Note that a slate roof guarantees longevity. Indeed, if they're well maintained, they can last for generations. In contrast, it’s true that the quality of the material is not always the same from one tile to another, because it’s entirely organic.

Slate roofing is available in a wide variety of colours, is waterproof, non-combustible, and requires very little maintenance. 

Pros: Slate is a very durable, fire-resistant, and sustainable material with the possibility to be recycled

Cons: Slate is an expensive, and heavy material. It requires extra framing and professional installation. The quality can vary with imported slate.

Lifespan: 50 to 100 years

A zinc rooftop

Zinc is a material that has gained a lot of popularity over the years. Its recent success, notably for architects, is explainable by this material's capacity to adapt to round shapes and structures, which is not the case for the other materials mentioned. In addition, zinc is a light material and therefore, doesn't constitute an overload for the roof. 

Would you like to read more on the subject? Check out these articles:

 

 

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