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Types of roofs, advantages and disadvantages of each

From natural materials like slate and wood to artificial products such as asphalt, sheet metal, and plastic polymers, there are various types and styles of toppings to choose from. While each has its advantages and disadvantages, they can all add a distinctive design element to your home. So what is the right stuff for you?

What should you look for on a roof?

There are many factors to consider when choosing a roof, including:

  • How long it will last?
  • Can it survive and withstand natural disasters such as hailstorms, storms and stronger winds?
  • Is it too heavy for the existing roof structure?
  • Is the roof sloped enough?
  • Does the look complement the style of the house?
  • Are the materials eco-friendly and recyclable?
  • Is the type of coverage allowed by local building codes?
  • How much?

Pros and cons of different types of roofing materials

Some types of toppings may be more suitable for your home than others. Factors such as the slope of the roof and strength of the framing could limit your choices. In areas subject to fires and hurricanes, look for a product with a high fire rating or good wind resistance. In addition, measures can be taken during installation of various types of coverings to improve their resistance to fire or wind. Below is a summary of the different types of roofing available.

Asphalt shingles

Asphalt shingles are a very popular type of roofing tiles for homes in the USA, being a little less popular in Brazil but not lacking in their space.

Materials: Made of an organic paper fiber mat (best for cold weather and wind resistance) or fiberglass (more fire resistance and moisture resistant) impregnated with asphalt and coated with mineral granules.

Appearance:  Available in traditional tiles in sets of 3 or laminated thicker tiles, called “architectural”.

Ecological:  oil is a product that is not environmentally friendly. It can be recycled, although they are often taken to landfills.

Durability:  not very durable. Algae-resistant tiles are available in damp climates to prevent stains.

Weight:  moderate. Can cause overload on more delicate structures

Angulation:  can be used on sloping roofs up to steeper.

Fire & Wind:  good fire resistance, acceptable wind resistance.

Cost : cheap to moderate.

Metal tiles

Although more expensive than asphalt, metal roofs last longer and are more resistant to wind.

Materials:  can be composed of steel, aluminum, copper, or zinc alloy. Steel roofs come with a zinc coating or painted finish. Copper roofs are installed unfinished and acquire a protective green patina with age.

Appearance:  Available in sheets or tiles that resemble other materials. Can be installed with concealed (exposed) or exposed fasteners.

Ecological:  can be made from recycled materials, and can be recycled when replaced. Absorbs one-third less heat than asphalt.

Durability: Relatively durable to very durable, depending on material.

Weight: light.

Angle:  available for low or steep sloping roofs.

Fire & Wind: good resistance to both fire and wind.

Cost:  moderate (from steel) to expensive (copper).

Plastic polymer tiles

These durable synthetic tiles assume diverse appearances, depending on the mold.

Materials: molded from a high-tech plastic polymer.

Appearance:  made to resemble slate or wood, but can have diverse appearances.

Durability:  Durable and low maintenance.

Ecological : some are made from recycled materials. Can be recycled when replaced.

Weight:  mild to moderate.

Angulation: Can be used in moderate slope to steep inclined roofs.

Fire & Wind:  good resistance to fire and wind.

Cost: moderate.

Durability: Long-lasting and low maintenance, but fragile and can break.

Weight:  Heavy, require reinforced roof structure to support.

Angulation:  Can be used in moderate slope to steeper inclined roofs.

Fire & Wind: Excellent fire resistance, moderate to low wind resistance.

Cost: expensive.

Concrete Tiles

Less expensive than clay tiles, concrete tiles are also heavy but can last a long time and are very fire resistant.

Materials:  made from a mixture of cement and sand.

Appearance: Can be made to look like traditional clay, wood or slate tiles. The color can be made across the tile or just applied over the surface.

Ecological:  made from natural materials.

Durability:  Long and low maintenance but can break.

Weight: Heavy, require reinforced roof structure to support itself.

Angulation:  Can be used in moderate slope to steeper inclined roofs.

Fire & Wind:  excellent fire resistance, moderate to low wind resistance.

Cost:  moderate.

Slate Tiles

Slate is one of the oldest building materials. Although fragile and expensive, it is very durable and resists both wind and fire.

Materials: made from natural slate.

Appearance: normally dark gray, with irregular appearance.

Ecological: made from natural materials.

Durability: Long lasting, durable (depending on where it was mined).

Weight:  Heavy, require reinforced roof structure to support itself.

Angulation: only sloping steep roofs.

Fire & Wind:  good resistance to fire and wind.

Cost : very expensive. Requires specially trained workers for installation

Wood Tiles

Wood shingles are made from wood that is resistant to rot and have low fire resistance if left untreated .

Materials: Normally cedar, but also can be made from other hardwoods.

Appearance: gives natural appearance and ages to a silvery gray. Available in sawn or thicker division tiles.

Ecological:  made from natural materials.

Durability: short service life, requires periodic maintenance.

Weight: moderate.

Angulation: Can be used in moderate slope to steep sloping roofs.

Fire & Wind:  good wind resistance, lack of fire resistance (can be treated with a fire retardant).

Cost: moderate.

Guarantees of different roof types

There are two warranties to consider when thinking about the roof of your house. The manufacturer’s warranty covers defects in the material. The separate warranty may be issued by the contractor to make the coverages, dealing with problems arising from improper installation.

The warranty is no better than the company that writes it , so make sure that the product comes from a reputable manufacturer with the financial resources to support it. This applies to who you will hire to make the toppings. It is important to read the warranty and service agreement carefully to see what is covered and excluded. Some warranties are not transferable when you sell your home, while others are limited to the cost of the materials or are prorated over time.

Your ceiling is the single most important defense of your home when it comes to protecting it against the elements, so it makes sense to make sure it is well done.

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