BlueSky Owner-Builder's Blog

blog image

The Roof Over Your Head

July 21, 20227 min read

The major function of a roof, of course, is to protect the home from the elements — rain, wind, snow. Below we will detail pros and cons of different types of roofing materials.


Underlayment — Roofing underlayment is a water-resistant or waterproof barrier material that is installed directly onto your roof deck. It is applied under all other roofing materials as an added layer of protection from severe weather. There are many types. This used to be called “felt”. 15# and 30#

Flashing – Galvanized sheet metal or copper or comparable materials used to seal off a wall, roof or other connecting areas (typically vertical walls). Normally where roofing material meets a vertical surface.

Trim — The trim protects the seams anywhere there is a roof, such as a hip or a ridge.

Sheathing – OSB that covers the roof rafters or exterior walls.

Shingles or Tile — The shingles or tiles make up the outermost part of the roof. Sitting atop the underlayment, they form the outermost barrier against the elements. In residential roofing the same basic types of roof have been used for hundreds of years are still in use today. The shingle, or tile, has been in use for thousands of years, in fact. You can find intact tiles that have been in use 5,000 years. Other roofing materials include concrete, wood shingles, metal or even solar panel tiles.


Composition Shingles

The terms "asphalt" shingle and "composition" shingle are general terms for the same thing. The term “composition” is used because the shingles are a composite product made from either a fiberglass or a cellulose mat, and asphalt and minerals, as opposed to a single material, such as wood shingles or clay tiles.

All modern shingles manufactured in North America have mats made of interwoven fiberglass strands, so you may also hear them called "fiberglass" shingles.  A modern shingle consists of a fiberglass mat embedded in asphalt, and covered with granules on the surface that faces the weather. The mat, asphalt and granules act together to form a durable, flexible and waterproof assembly.

In the past, shingles were also manufactured using mats made of cellulose-based materials, and these are called "organic" shingles.

Patterns vary in size, shape, color, price.

The most popular by far, asphalt shingles are made of fiberglass sandwiched between asphalt and ceramic granules. Relatively light and easy to install, they are a good choice if you're looking for style at a budget price. They may last 30 years or more but can be vulnerable to high winds

Metal Roofs

Metal roofs offer many benefits, including: 

Longevity. Metal roofs can last 40-70 years, depending on the material. Traditional asphalt roofing materials have an estimated life expectancy of roughly 12-20 years.

Durability. Some metal roofs can sustain wind gusts up to 140 miles per hour, will not corrode or crack, and may be impact-resistant (depending on which metal you choose). In addition, metal roofs don't need the periodic costly maintenance that other roofing materials often require. However, they should be inspected periodically to make sure no repairs are required.

Safety. Metal roofs will not spark and ignite into flames during a wildfire or lightning strike.

Energy efficiency. Metal roofs reflect solar radiant heat, which can reduce cooling costs by 10-25%.

Environmentally friendly. Metal roofs not only have 25-95% recycled content, depending on the material used, but are also 100% recyclable at the end of their life as a roof. In contrast, most shingle tear-off waste ends up as part of the building-related waste stream — up to 20 billion pounds per year.

Despite their many advantages, metal roofs have some potential drawbacks.

Metal roofs can be as much as two or three times more expensive than other roofing materials. While the life of a metal roof is much longer, investing in a metal roof only makes sense if you plan to stay in your home long enough to enjoy the cost benefits.

Metal roofs can be noisy, especially during a heavy rain or hailstorm. Adding more insulation during installation may alleviate this problem, but may also increase costs.

Expansion and contraction. Metal roofing materials that are attached as large panels tend to expand and contract. If they are not properly installed with fasteners that allow the metal to "breathe," the panels may loosen.

Inconsistency of color match. If a repair is required or a home extension is added years later, it may be difficult to find an exact match to the existing metal.

Performance. If water accumulates anywhere on the roof it can eventually cause serious damage. Low-grade metals may also be thinner and less durable. Some metals rust in certain climates or dent more easily than others during hailstorms or installation.

Tile Roofs

Tiles are mankind's oldest manufactured roofing material, with the first use of clay tiles dating back to Ancient China. Throughout history, their durability made them the go-to choice for roofs in the Middle East, Europe and Asia.

As with all roofing materials, but perhaps not so much as with tile, the upfront costs must be differentiated from the life-cycle costs. With the exception of some very high quality slate, clay tile is the most expensive roofing system you can get.

Count on a tile roof costing two times as much as a wood shake roof and four times more than asphalt shingles.

Concrete tiles are less expensive than clay, so they would be on the lower end of the above pricing range.

The color, style, and grade of the tile you choose, including its weight and thickness, is what will determine the actual cost of materials, while installation costs will vary, depending on your location.

Since tile is a heavy roofing material (concrete is lighter than clay – 600 to 1,200 pounds per square as opposed to 1,000 to 1,500 pounds per square) the structural support of the building must be taken into account.

Clay and concrete tile roofs do not rot when they get wet. Insects do not gnaw on tile roofs. They are durable in any climate from arid deserts to northern locales socked in by snow. There is no coating, sealing or painting required for a tile roof.

Maintenance is limited to things like gutters and flashing. Tile roofs tend to be more durable in storms than other types of coverings.

The most common cause for broken tiles is careless walking. Broken tiles need to be professionally repaired, so if you need to walk around on your tile roof, learn how to do it properly.

Cost Savings from Tile Roofs and their ROI

A tile roof is an energy efficient money-saving insulator. The tiles and the air space created in their installation conspire to increase air circulation that reduces direct heat transfer from the roof to the house and eases summer air conditioning costs. In the winter this benefits homeowners by limiting the occurrence of ice dams

Clay tiles and concrete tiles are non-combustible. A properly installed tile roof will qualify for a Class “A” Flame-Spread rating throughout its life that means lower fire insurance premiums.

There are also savings to the planet from tile roofs. Both clay and concrete roof tiles are fabricated from natural earth materials that are in no danger of being depleted anytime soon. Plus, they are manufactured with no chemical preservatives.

Corrugated Asphalt Shingles made to look like tile can be a cost-effective alternative

(Like used on the White project – expound on this please) Is this named correctly?

Wood Shingles are considered a fire hazard and are not allowed per building code locally.

Solar Panel Roofing Tiles

Companies like Tesla provide Solar Roof complements your home’s architecture while turning sunlight into electricity. With an integrated Powerwall battery, energy collected during the day is stored and made available any time, effectively turning your home into a personal utility. Glass solar tiles are so durable they are warrantied for the lifetime of your house, according to Tesla.

Back to Blog

Click Here to Schedule a Free Discovery Call with Patrick Harrington!

BlueSky Construction & Consulting Services


Copyright © 2022 Blue Sky Construction & Consulting Services - All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy - Terms of Service