Home Buyers, Brush Up On Your Roof-Top Knowledge

In the great search for the perfect home there are many details to consider. A huge part of the integrity of any building is, of course, the roof. There are various different types of roofs and roofing material, all with particular advantages and draw-backs. You’ll want consider this information as you continue your hunt. A good roof is part of a great investment. Likewise, if you are buying into a home that needs a roof replacement, it is not a bad idea to have a handle on the type of roofing materials on the market.


Asphalt roofs are the most popular roof choice in North America. They are a proven covering material available in many styles, shapes and colors. Asphalt shingles normally last about 20 years, but when covered in copper sheeting their life can be extended up to 30 or 40 years. Asphalt shingles are suitable for most residential applications and compared to other roofing products asphalt are a relatively inexpensive choice. Asphalt shingles are also a user friendly choice. Experienced do-it-yourselfers will have no problems applying asphalt shingles successfully. Asphalt is a low maintenance product with easy repairs. You can go ahead with asphalt knowing it has been around for over 100 years and has a proven track record.


Flat roofs usually require some type of membrane roofing material. There are three main types. Thermoset Membranes chemically cross link. “What does this mean?”, you may ask. It basically amounts to having one giant molecule of roofing over your head- no seams attached! These membranes are quite thick and offer superior performance in a wide range of exposures. The Thermoplastic Membrane roofs are similar to Thermosets, but do not chemically cross link. Instead, seams are welded together with heat or solvents. PVC plastic materials are used with both these types of roofing. There are many different “code” acronyms that you might hear a roofer talk about. Be sure to find out the exact material and material details from your roofer. The third type of membrane is Modified Bitumen Membrane, which is an evolution of asphalt roofing. These membranes combine asphalt with modifiers and reinforcement materials. The preferred method of applying these particular membranes is through the “torch down” method. A flame throwing torch melts the asphalt so that the seams can be joined together. Membrane roofs are a great choice and often come with a long life warrantee- usually around 15-25 years, depending on the thickness of materials used.


The longest lasting and probably most expensive roof choice is a metal roof. They will typically last 40-50 years. Metal roof are also favored for their speed, ease of installation and fire resistant qualities. Metal roofs are surprisingly lightweight and reflect heat from the sun. Drawbacks, aside from the costs of premium materials, are noise and denting. If a golf ball hits your metal roof, not only will you hear it, you may also have a permanent dent in your roof!. And although the noise can be controlled in various ways, if you you live in a rainy climate and want a metal roof, you had better like the sound of rain pitter pattering, or pelting above you.


Wooden roofs are generally comprised of either shingles or shakes. Usually made from western red cedar, a long-lasting, straight-grained wood, shingles have a life expectancy similar to most other roofs. Wood shakes are thicker and rougher and like shingles have an average life expectancy of 25 years. One draw back to wooden roofs is that the are certainly not fire-resistant. Some local codes require that the wood be pressure-treated. Therefore, wooden roofs may not be suitable for use in fire-prone areas. Wood materials often require more maintenance than other roofing options, especially if you live in a harsh climate.


Tile roofs initially cost a lot more to install than asphalt shingle or wood shake roofs, but they also last much longer. Their lifecycle can be from 50-100 years, and sometimes even longer.Tile is often used in more expensive, custom homes. Tile has the unique ability of being able to accent the exterior color or finish of any home or building. With better insulating properties, tile is also your most energy-efficient material choice. Tile roofing systems allow air circulation under the tile, reducing heat transfer to attics during fires. But take note, tile roofs are not meant to be walked on!