There’s no doubt a homeowner can be easily misguided when deciding on a new roof. Not surprisingly, many contractors will simply sell you on asphalt shingles. “It’s the best bang for your buck, meaning it’s cheap” they may say, knowing in 20 or so years they’ll be back at least once to repair if not replace it. The fact that they’re so willing to give you their cheapest option may persuade you to their side, and that would be understandable.
Nevertheless, choosing what kind of roof you’re putting over your head is a major decision. We’d encourage you to think twice before going with the cheapest material option.
Like most major buys, it is important to factor the cost of ownership in addition to initial cost when factoring for a major purchase. Repairing the roof from either time or weather will almost certainly be more often with shingles. The old adage ‘you get what you pay for’ comes into effect. Gone are the days of corrugated zinc roofs in the states, now we have steel like we put in battle tanks, aluminum like we put in our aircraft, and copper like we put on our chapels.
Asphalt shingles are by far the leading type of roofing installed on U.S. homes. This reflects the home-builder corps preference for the conventional, the status quo. Shingles are cheap, easy, and don’t require exceptional craftsmanship. The home builders crank out buildings by the dozen, so everywhere they can afford to reduce construction time will be taken advantage of.
Approximately 7 in 10 American households use asphalt shingles. There is no doubting there are benefits to using asphalt: the main one being upfront affordability. With that affordability, however, comes drawbacks. Averaging all American climate, asphalt roofs only last on average about 20 years. And the risks are high: if not caught quickly, rain leaks or ice dams can cause rot in the structure that can threaten the viability of the structure. Being vulnerable to wind gusts, individual storms can turn a healthy roof into an endangered one by peeling off shingles or compromising the entire roof structure with force. At their failing point in wind, shingles and the wood boards in the roof will not serve to increase rigidity of the structure enough to keep it intact.
Then, of course, there are metal roofs. As outlined here, metal roofs have the distinct advantage of being superior in every practical way; they are more robust and beautiful, cost less to own and require less chemicals to maintain, and are relatively worry-free. It takes skilled installers such as the staff at Lawrence Roofing & Associates Inc to create a functioning and attractive metal roof!
Tile roofing like clay terra cotta seen in so many Arizona, So-Cal, and New Mexico houses, are really only for areas where winter does not exist, being vulnerable to ice dams, snow, wind, and hail. While chosen to fit in with the neighbors, clay tiles may not be the most practical solution for saving money long term on cooling, either. Fiber cement is a better option than clay as it handles winter, but is more expensive and has a shorter lifespan, being susceptible to cracking like all cement in time.
For the mountains, cedar shake shingles have a rustic traditional aesthetic appeal. Expensive to install being labor intensive, they can at least, for a time, resist rot and water damage as their natural oils protect them. After the oil dries up, however, you generally will need a new roof soon.
Last and maybe least pretty, there is rubber, or EDPM (oil based). Even though it now comes in white, with a 0/10 for aesthetics, no one will ever say ‘look at that pretty rubber roof they have’! In addition, many contractors claim to be proficient in their installation but are not, and improperly installed it will leak and have a voided warranty. Many, many flat roof homeowners opted for rubber roofs in the 60s and 70s when oil was relatively cheap, and because of improper technique and installation, many, many roofs began leaking in short order.
This time period no doubt taught the hard lesson to many homeowners: when it comes to what’s between you and the sky, the initial cost is just the beginning when you choose to go the most affordable route. There is also peace of mind to consider, which has what price?