Traditionally, the biggest factors in roofing material choice for homeowners has been the cost and durability of materials. In recent years a third consideration has emerged. It is the green factor of a material’s energy efficiency and ability to be recycled after use, as well as the renewability of the materials used in manufacture.
Composite shingles are the most popular material in roofing overall. They are made of a mix of materials that offers greater durability and lower cost than traditional asphalt shingles. Composite shingles are available in a large range of color choices and designs, including new lighter colored shingles that are an easy way to increase the energy efficiency of the home by reducing heat absorption.
They are one of the most economical roofing material choices and usually have a warranted lifespan of 30-50 years. They can often be installed over an existing roof, which saves on labor. Composite roofs also provide the highest rating for fire protection and can be walked on without damage. Their main vulnerability is to damage from high winds, and humid environments that can foster the growth of moss and fungus on the roofs. Also, composite shingles are not recyclable after use and usually include some petroleum products, which are a nonrenewable resource.
Wood shakes are quite popular on the west coast of the U.S. However, they are generally not rated for fire resistance. Fire resistance in pressure treated shakes or roofs treated with fire resistant sprays can degrade within a few years. The chemical treatments involved in preserving wood shakes render them unable to be recycled. They are also more vulnerable to rot and insect infestation than other roofing materials.
Clay tile is a popular choice in sunny climates and is very suitable for Mediterranean and hacienda styles of houses. Clay tile roofs are very durable and resistant to weather, rot and insects. Their main disadvantage is the heaviness of the tiles. A clay tile roof can only be used on a house built or modified to support its weight. Also, clay tiles are prone to breakage when walked on, making maintenance more complicated.
Since 1999, the popularity of metal roofs has doubled. It still commands a relatively small market share but it is poised to expand for several reasons. First, it is very durable, and not prone to rot, insects and other issues that degrade softer roofing choices. It is also very resistant to wind damage, making it an increasingly popular choice in the south and Midwest.
Secondly, it is a great choice for a homeowner interested in raising the home’s energy efficiency, as it reflects heat much better than other roofing materials. Finally, the color and rustproofing choices have expanded in recent years, as have the styles, so that metal roofs can mimic the look of high end tile or stone roofs at a lower cost and with lighter materials. And after their useful life is over, metal roofing materials can be recycled. Read more at central md roofing