Why is roofing important?
Keeping your roofs and gutters in good condition is very important. It is your property’s main defense against the elements, and a very important part of its overall value. Neglecting your roof will cause damp conditions that will quickly bring about decay and expensive structural damage, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry! We usually think of calling a roofing contractor when we notice a leak in the ceiling or some missing tiles, but they can also be hired to provide many other services.
Keeping a tight “lid” on your building is important for blocking out water and moisture infiltration that can quickly lead to costly repairs if left unchecked. Assess your roofing materials and determine if they can make it through another winter. Inspect flashing and other points of entry where water damage can occur and where warm air can escape.
Your roof can also be a good indicator for how well your home is doing with energy loss. One quick and easy thing to do is to clean out your gutters to ensure that water can flow off and away from your home. Since the dawn of history, man has been attempting to protect himself from the rain and the elements. The first materials used were those that were readily at hand, such as slabs of rock, wood, and thatches of grass. In many respects, roofing today is not a lot different, except that basic improvements that have been made in these same materials. One of the best roofs available for using a house is slate. Similar in all respects to the slate that has been used to roof houses throughout Europe for hundreds of years. Houses are still roofed with wood shingles and fired clay tiles. Another basic roofing material, asphalt tar, has been refined into the composition shingle that is the most prevalent roofing material in America today.
Every roofing material has its own set of strengths and weaknesses. The proper material for your roof can best be judged by weighing those strengths and weaknesses against your particular needs and budget allowance. Composition shingles come in a variety of different styles, colors and warranties. The most common and least expensive shingle has a 20 year warranty and is known as the strip shingle or the 3-tab shingle. The second most common composition shingle is the 30 year dimensional shingle. This shingle is also referred to as the laminated shingle or the architectural shingle. It carries a 30 year warranty and is distinguishable from the 20 year shingle by its thicker, heavier look which was designed to imitate the appearance of wood shingles. The laminated shingle also comes in 40 and 50 year versions which are each slightly thicker than the 30 year shingle but are otherwise exactly the same in appearance.
Types of Roofing
Pitched roofs are the most common types of roofs. The pitch of the roof is a measurement of how steep the roof is which determines how quickly the water will run off of the roof. Roof pitches are typically measured by an equation called the “rise over the run” and is figured in the number of feet that the roof rises in a 12 foot horizontal run. A “12/12 pitched roof” means that the roof rises 12 feet in a horizontal run of 12 feet and results in a 45 degree angle. A 12/12 pitch is regarded as quite steep because it is impossible to stand on without some kind of support. A 3/12 pitch roof is regarded as quite shallow, and is the minimum pitch at which most roofing products will successfully shed water. Most pitched roofs are between 4/12 and 8/12 in pitch. At 1/12 pitch or less, a roof is considered to be “flat”.
The most common type of roofing material for pitched roofs is composition shingles. However, there are many other types of roofing available including wood shingles and shakes, metal, slate, tile and other more exotic materials.
Flat roofs are roofs with zero pitch or with pitches so low that the water runs off too slowly for overlapped type of roofing materials to successfully shed water. Because the traditional types of roofing materials used on pitched roofs are not effective, different types of roofing materials have been developed to deal with this problem. For many years, that was limited to tar and gravel and flat seamed soldered metal. However, in the last twenty years or so, many new types of flat roof systems have been developed, including plastic, rubber and modified bitumen roof materials. The most common of these in use today on residential homes is modified bitumen. This material is made by combining asphalt (bitumen) with various chemicals whose purpose is to prolong the viable lifetime of the asphalt product. These chemicals fall into two basic categories, the first of which is elastifiers, whose purpose is to keep the asphalt flexible, and the second, UV blockers, whose purpose is to stop ultraviolet light from degrading the product. In combination, these chemicals greatly extend the lifetime of the asphalt. This material comes in large rolls which are then melted together to form one uniform sheet of material across the flat roof. Although tar and gravel is still used to some degree, it is fast disappearing from use because the modified bitumen is both cheaper and more effective.
Although the strip shingle and the laminated shingle account for 95% of all composition shingle roofs there are numerous alternatives including hail resistant shingles and specialty shingles.
3-tab composition shingles are by far the most commonly used shingle in America. They have a 20 year warranty and are the most inexpensive roofing material available. Their chief attributes are low price, ease of application and wide selection of available colors. Their disadvantages are relatively short life expectancy and their plain, unadorned appearance. This roof appearance consists of identical 5” X 12” rectangles repeating endlessly across the roof. This unfortunately tends to exaggerate and highlight any variation in the pattern caused by a high rafter or sag in the decking.
Laminated shingles start off with much the same construction as a 3-tab or strip shingle but then an extra layer of material cut into a saw-tooth pattern is glued on (or laminated) to the exposed portion of the shingle. This makes the shingle thicker and longer lasting. In addition, multiple variations in the saw-toothed give the shingle a varied thatched-like appearance so that the roof does not show any repeating pattern. This combination of extra thickness and random appearance is much more successful in hiding the defects in the roof deck and is one of these shingles main attributes. While these shingles are considerably different, as a class, from the 3-tab shingles there is little or no difference in appearance between the 30, 40 and 50 year versions.
Hail resistant shingles also come in both 3-tab and laminated styles. However the 3-tab style carries a 30 year warranty and the laminated style carries the 50 year warranty. These shingles do not appear any different to the naked eye from the regular 3-tab and laminated shingles. However they are manufactured using a special asphalt called modified bitumen, which contains 2 types of special chemical modifiers known as elastifiers and UV blockers. These shingles will pass a level 4 impact resistant test and qualify home owners in Travis, Williamson and Hays Counties for a 16% reduction in home owners rates. However, these shingles are quite expensive and usually require 8-10 years before their reduced insurance rate saves enough money to save the additional cost.
Specialty Shingles – Although specialty shingles only account for 2-3% of the composition shingle market there is a large number of different types and styles to choose from. There are shingles embossed with a wood grain, shingles designed to look like slate, extremely heavy and thick shingles, shingles with multiple layers of laminate and even copper plated shingles.
We hope that this article has been of some help in making your decision on roofing. Using a qualified Construction Consultant; if you plan to run the project yourself is very important also so make your choices carefully.