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Guide to Roofing Materials: Testing Durability

Deciding on which roofing material to install for your home might not be the most exciting way to spend your time. However, keep in mind that you’ll be needing a new roof sooner or later, so you should know and understand what you’re getting into so you can make the most out of your investment. What you essentially need to know is that there’s a wide range of roofing materials available to you, each with its own pros and cons. You can make a decision based on what factors are most important to you, be it budget, longevity, beauty, or a combination of these three.

For most homeowners, what they ultimately look for in a roofing material is durability. After all, the primary responsibility of your roof is to protect you, your family, and your valuables from the harsh weather. A reliable roofing system has the ability to protect everything underneath it. Familiarizing yourself with the attributes of the available roofing options, as well as paying close attention to how they perform, will serve you well in getting a roof that is durable, strong, and long-lasting.

Here are some of the most common residential roofing materials and their notable characteristics:

Asphalt Shingles: Durability Meter = Good!

Also known as “composition shingles”, asphalt shingles are among the most popular, if not the most popular, a choice for roofing in the country. They’re a combination of cellulose or fiberglass materials and asphalt, covered with mineral granules. Roofs made out of these shingles are available in different grades; the higher the grade, the longer the life expectancy is, which can range from 10 to 50 years. When maintained properly, these shingles can easily protect your home from excessive moisture brought by intense rainfall and thunderstorms. They need to be kept clear of debris, though and repaired immediately after a powerful storm.

Apart from their natural strength, asphalt shingles are chosen by many homeowners because they are relatively easy to install and economically priced. There are also plenty of product choices—from styles and textures to color selections and budgets—that can suit the unique needs of every homeowner. Once these shingles reach the end of their service life, homeowners can choose to recycle them by participating in various national recycling programs.

Wood Shakes and Shingles: Durability Meter = Good!

Wood shakes and shingles have been around for a very long time and continue to be among the top picks for American homeowners. These materials are usually made from real cedar, redwood, or southern pine. They are ideal specifically for more steeply pitched roofs that can show off the nice, genuine wood texture and natural charm they offer. Wood shakes and shingles have the ability protect your structure from water damage as they provide outstanding strength and water-resistance.

You can enjoy them for up to 25 years or more with proper maintenance. To make these materials last longer, make sure to apply preservative and fungicide every two to five years as well as remove debris and moss as soon as they begin showing up.

Metal Roofing: Durability Meter = Very Good!

Believe it or not, metal is fast becoming a favorite roofing material across the country. Innovative alloys, steel, and coatings make metal roofing panels more durable and longer lasting than the typical shakes and shingles.  Many residential homeowners used to be hesitant about installing metal roofing because of the misconception that the material is suited only for commercial establishments. Today, however, metal roofs come in many different colors, styles, and textures—some even mimicking the look of beautiful slate and asphalt shingle roofing. They also use a coated steel substrate to reduce, if not completely eliminate, worries about rust and corrosion.

Typical metal roofs can last anywhere between 40 to 70 years. By committing yourself to proper roof maintenance, however, they can last even longer. Maintenance measures include regularly checking for fastener and sealant issues and distressed panels as well as keeping gutters clog-free all the time.

Clay Tiles: Durability Meter = Excellent!

Tiles not made from composites or metal are usually clay-based. Although much heavier than other materials, clay tiles exhibit superior durability and strength, making them a perfect option for areas usually hit with strong storms. Thanks to their pulverized clay composition, these tiles can stand up to even the harshest conditions. Clay tiles last way longer than other materials, being able to protect a home for 50 to 100 years. They are also eco-friendly and require little maintenance, which explains why many homeowners choose this material. You can even extend the life of clay tiles by replacing broken tiles immediately, not walking on them, and buffing off efflorescence with a clean towel from time to time.   

Slate Roofing: Durability Meter = Excellent!

Since it’s made of real stone, a slate is by far the most durable and long-lasting type of roofing material—it’s even tagged as virtually indestructible due to the unmatched strength and durability it provides. It can last for up to 100 years or more. As with clay tiles, though, slate roofing can be heavy, and your framing might need to be engineered to support this roofing style. Slate roofs are low-maintenance as well; the only maintenance they need is replacing broken tiles, checking the placement of flashings, and replacing flashings that have turned black.

Knowing what’s available and familiarizing yourself with their qualities is your first step toward making the right roofing choice. To give you more confidence in making a decision, you can always seek the help of a trusted local roofing contractor for expert recommendations.


Author Bio:

Bob Dresback is professional roofer based in Minneapolis and the owner of Garlock-French Corporation. A true-blue construction enthusiast, he is very passionate about what he does and loves to share his experiences to other people. Read more about him by liking his Facebook page or subscribing to his company’s blog.


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