If you are building or remodeling a home or commercial facility, you may have spent so much time obsessing over walls, doors, windows, and other design elements that you haven't given much thought to the roof. Do you really want standard-issue asphalt shingles, or would another kind of roofing serve you better in one way or another? Here are five common roofing materials to consider.
Asphalt has been the standby material for residential and commercial roof shingles for decades. This material has the advantage of being cheap to produce, easy to install, and available in a wide spectrum of styles and colors.
If you want a long-lasting, eco-friendly roof, however, you may want to choose a different shingle material. Asphalt is derived from non-renewable petroleum -- and it does little to reflect radiant heat, forcing you to run your air conditioning higher and use more electricity than you might if had a more energy-efficient roof.
Shingles made from cedar, southern pine, redwood, or other varieties of wood lend a rustic beauty to your bungalow or ranch-style home. Unfortunately, they also burn. As any camping enthusiast can tell you, wood makes excellent kindling, especially when dry. For this reason, local building codes may prohibit the installation of wooden shingles.
If you want the look of wood without the fire risk, consider faking it. Modern plastic or rubber synthetic materials can be shaped and colored to create convincing faux wood. Shingles made in this way do not combust and resist the weathering effects of ultraviolet rays as well, giving you a beautiful "wooden" roof for up to 50 years.
If your Spanish-style home requires a Spanish-style roof, then get yourself some traditional red terra cotta (clay) tiles. In addition to their classical good looks, clay tiles resist water, fire, mold and mildew, providing long-term protection against the elements for your home. If you want extra energy efficiency, forego the red in favor of white or another light color.
Before you get too set on clay tiles for your roof, be aware that your home might need structural reinforcement to accommodate the considerable weight of this form of roofing. Installing clay tiles requires considerable expertise, so shop for roofing companies that have experience in this specialized area.
If your want an energy-efficient roof above all else, consider covering your current roof in TPO. TPO stands for thermoplastic polyolefin, a synthetic polymer. Roofing companies often use TPO as a critical ingredient in the "cool roofs" they install for residences and commercial facilities.
TPO makes a great choice for refurbishing an old, inefficient roof. Large sheets can be welded together into a light-colored single-ply membrane to cover an old asphalt roof, for instance. This covering reflects a considerable amount of radiant heat and UV rays, helping you to stay cool and enjoy lower electric bills.
Metal roofs give you yet another way to bounce the sun's rays away from your home or building. The most cost-effective choices among roofing metals are steel and aluminum. Steel has the edge in dent resistance over its more lightweight cousin, while aluminum resists corrosion better than steel. (You can coat either metal with pain to help protect it and add visual appeal.)
If you have always thought of metal roofs as drab, utilitarian structures, modern metal roofing products have some delightful surprises in store for you. You can choose from a variety of shapes, styles and patterns, from sheet roofing with uniform panels and raised ribs to shingles that imitate wood or other natural materials.
A roof does more than just keep the rain off of your occupants -- it also makes a statement about your aesthetic sensibilities, while playing an active role in the structure's comfort and energy efficiency. Talk to some roofing companies like Roof Tech about which type of roofing offers the best balance of these elements for your needs.