Replacing or repairing an existing roof is a big job. Since your roof provides protection from the weather over all four seasons, it's one of the most important structural aspects of your home. It only makes sense that you wouldn't take a roofing project lightly. But what is the most essential consideration before beginning this home improvement?
It's time to figure out which roofing material will provide you with the best protection and still fit within your budget.
Why Roofing Material Is Essential
Think of where your roof is — a barrier between yourself and the sky (including wind, rain, snow, sleet, UV rays, etc.). This barrier needs to be solid, a material that is strong enough to provide protection for your health and all of your valuables inside the house. While grass thatched roofs might be found in tropical beach houses, a more durable product is needed for the average suburban home in North America.
Replacing your roof is an extensive project that involves many hours of skilled labor. It's not something you want to do very often (or pay someone to do very often). Choosing a durable roof material is the wise thing to do, stretching out the time between replacements as long as possible.
How to Choose the Best Roofing Material
Your climate is the number one determinate for roofing materials. Wind, rain, snow and sun all take a hefty toll on a roof and the amount and frequency of each element will guide you towards (or away from) certain materials.
Shingles are the most common option. Relatively inexpensive and easy to install, shingles come in a wide range of styles, colors and levels of quality. An average shingle carries a 15-year warranty, but you can upgrade to 20, 25 or even 35-year shingles. These premium products will provide good protection for longer periods of time before deteriorating from exposure to the sun and other elements.
In windy locations and for those who want something more solid, shingles are not the best choice. Clay roof tiles are installed in a similar way — overlapping to create a run off effect — but provide a solid, longer lasting surface that will endure almost any weather. Clay tiles are often used in hotter climates and can be counted on for decades, even generations of solid performance.
Metal roofing is taking off on today's homes. Not just for factories and major industrial buildings, sheet metal roofing is made in a variety of attractive styles that appeal to homeowners. Long lasting and dependable, metal will protect your home well and is impervious to the weather (as long as nothing punctures the roof). It also carries a higher upfront price tag.
Why the Roof Structure Is Also Important
The condition of your rafters and roof sheathing is a factor in the roofing material you choose. Older, less structurally sound roof rafters and sheathing may not be able to hold up heavier materials. Have a roofing contractor inspect your attic to get a better idea of the condition of these elements.
If you have a flat roof (or a flat section of the roof) this can also limit your choices. Rubber is a common option for flat roofing since it stands the best chance of creating a seamless, leak-proof finish. It's important to provide proper drainage on flat roofing sections no matter what type of roofing material is used. When a flat roof is being replaced you're better to call in an expert and have them guide you to best choice, as well as provide professional installation of the product.
Roofing projects are large in scope, big in budget and long in life when done right. The most important thing to consider before starting your roofing project is which material will deliver the best value. Dependable protection and the ability to endure the elements are what the optimal material will offer your home. Think about your climate as well as the existing structure and don't be afraid to call in an expert when you need some guidance. Your roof is an important part of your house and a solid one is invaluable.