As a natural consequence of Australia’s expanding population, the number of new residences being built is increasing. More homeowners than ever are facing the questions: which roofing solution best suits my home? What are the pros and cons of each?
Some types of roofing materials are unsuitable for certain roofs. For instance, a flat or low-sloping roof sometimes requires different materials than roofs with steeper pitch. Certain materials, such as slate and tile, are too heavy for some houses and cannot be used.
Below, we will discuss the relative advantages and disadvantages of some of the most popular roofing materials.
Asphalt shingle is still far the most common roofing in Australia. It is the least expensive option and is easy to install. Asphalt shingles are made of a fiberglass and asphalt mixture, with a grainy surface of ceramic. Laminated shingles have an aesthetically pleasing textured appearance and last longer than their non-laminated counterparts, though they are more expensive. Colour options are virtually limitless.
There are, however, some drawbacks to asphalt shingles. The biggest is that they offer little in the way of thermal protection. They absorb heat and transfer it into your house. Excessive heat can also curl tiles, allowing strong winds to eventually lift them away. Asphalt shingles are also susceptible to moisture. If located in damp and shady areas of your roof, asphalt shingles can rot. They do not last as long as some of the other roofing options.
Wooden roof tiles, generally made of cedar or pine, have declined in popularity somewhat. One of the clear drawbacks to wooden tiles is that they cannot be used in fire-prone areas unless pressure treated. In addition, they are more difficult to install than asphalt shingles and generally require a professional to do so. Their life expectancy is roughly similar to that of asphalt shingle, but they are more costly.
One of the advantages to wooden shingles is that they are one of the lighter roofing materials. They are aesthetically pleasing and provide more insulation than asphalt shingle roofs.
Metal roofs are potentially some of the most durable. They are fire-resistant and practically maintenance free. A metal roof can significantly cut energy bills as they reflect heat in the summer, and metal roofs can be cast to mimic other roofing materials aesthetically. Metal roofs are often made from recyclable materials as well, which is positive for the environment. Metal roofs are very lightweight and good for buildings where structure is a concern.
Perhaps the biggest disadvantage to metal roofs is their cost. The exact figure depends upon the metal used, with common choices being Aluminum, steel and copper. But metal roofs are nearly always more expensive than shingled ones–sometimes several times more expensive.
While not quite as durable as metal roofs, tile and cement roofs last for a long time. They are more heat, fire, and wind resistant than asphalt or wooden shingles. They are also more expensive. An additional disadvantage to tile roofs is that they must be installed by a professional and you cannot easily walk on them to perform maintenance without breaking the tiles. Clay and concrete tiles are also heavy, causing structural issues in some cases.
Slate is one of the most expensive roofing options, but it is also one of the most durable. In fact, according to Bob Vila.com, the best slate will outlast the fasteners that hold it into place. Often, old slate is recycled for reinstallation. Slate, however, is also one of the heavier roofing options.
An interesting and unusual option is the “living” roof. This roof does carry the benefits of very excellent insulation and reduced run-off. The disadvantage is that these roofs have a complex installation process, requiring the installation of a waterproofing membrane and in some cases, an irrigation system.
Roll roofing is used solely on flat roofs. It is inexpensive and easy to install. The drawback, however, is that it has a very short lifespan. As a general rule, roll roofing is used as a stopgap until a more durable material can be installed.
How to decide on a roofing material
If you’re remodeling an older home, the previous roof will likely dictate what you replace it with. It can be problematic to replace a lighter roofing material with a heavier one. Colour, texture, durability and expense are all considerations.
Chances are very good that when you purchased your house, you didn’t physically climb a ladder to inspect the condition of the roof that will be over your head for the next several years, possibly decades.
A home inspector is always a must have when it comes time to purchase a home, even if it is new construction, and you are not aware of the building ordinances or what you should be look for as warning signs before you buy, especially when it comes to a roof.
Now if you already own your home, it’s best not to rush to the conclusion that you do need a new roof. Step back and take into consideration the age of your home. Most residential contractors build their roofs to last thirty-years. If your house is well under thirty-years old, it may be another issue.
The internet is a great tool as you can research the issues that you are having with your roof to see if there is anyone else having similar issues as well as how they resolved the problem. Keep in mind that while the internet is a helpful tool to research the topic, it can also make you worry about your roofing problem being larger than it actually is. So be careful when you do your research and don’t panic.
Another option is to talk to other homeowners in your neighborhood; especially those that used the same builder as you to see if they too are experiencing any roofing issues. It is safe to say that you do not know what issues are going on within your neighbor’s homes unless you see a Plumbing or Electrical Service vehicle at the house or a large roll of wet carpeting or padding at the end of the driveway.
If houses within the same area that were built by the same contractor are having similar issues, maybe the issue is with the material that was used. If you have a homeowner’s warranty you might not have to spend any money to have your problem resolved.
Again, this is just ONE thought.
My wife and I purchased our home in 2006 and it was already eleven-years old. Three years later my wife noticed an off color on the ceiling in one of the bedrooms on the second floor. To my eyes, it looked as if I might have grazed the section with the paint roller while painting the walls several weeks ago. The color of the spot was similar to the color on the walls.
During one storm, my wife made it a point to check on the spot while it was raining. Sure enough, the same spot was wet to the touch. We kept our eyes on the spot during the storm to see if it was growing and possibly turning into a larger problem for us. As it turns out, the spot was not growing in size and by the next afternoon it was dry to the touch.
GET SEVERAL QUOTES
Let’s be honest, companies are in the business of making a profit. If we simply took the word of the first roofer to come out to look at our roof, we would have spent a large amount of money for a whole new roof. Not just new underlayment and shingles, but new plywood to repair the damaged area.
Another roofing company came out and said that the plywood should be fine as he did not see any signs of significant hail damage (there were two hail storms months prior to his visit) but he did notice a few shingles in the questioned area would need to be replaced. He said that would resolve the issue for us.
The third company came out and informed us not to disclose we were having our water issues. After inspecting our roof, we were told that the shingles were in good shape, but that we would probably need a new roof in roughly fifteen years. We were then asked if we were having any sort of leaking issues on the Northeast side of the house. When we told him that was where we were having the issues, he recommended that he replace the air vents and the weather-stripping as the old one looked to be in bad shape.
For a fraction of a whole new roof, our problems were resolved with a small roofing repair from a company that will be getting out business when it is time for us to really get a new roof.