A well-constructed roof does more than protect you and your family from the elements. It adds value to your home, saves you some bucks in cooling and heating; and contributes to the overall aesthetics. It can even be the most prominent feature of your house; that is, if you’re as creative as artist, John Buckley, who decorated his roof with a fibreglass shark.
Shark-roof house goes fishing for listed status
A house with a fibreglass shark on its roof may finally win legal protection (writes Jonathan Morrison). The shark was installed in 1986 by the artist John Buckley as a protest against the US bombing of Libya, but Oxford council initially refused it … Shark-roof house goes fishing for listed status
So if you’re thinking about replacing an old roof and installing a new one, be ready for a range of possibilities. Roofing has indeed come a long way as far as construction and materials are concerned. Wood shakes and slate have been around for a long time but there are now new options to choose from like asphalt-fiberglass, fiber cement and plastic composites. While having an array of choices is great for any homeowner, choosing the right one can become a challenge.
What to consider
When choosing the most suitable roofing for your house, there are some issues that need to be considered.
Protection. Roofing should provide reliable protection from rain, wind and sun for many years. The choice of material is crucial since some can provide better protection from others depending on the climate and environment where you live. If your area is prone to bushfires, clay and concrete tiles are much better choices than untreated wood shakes.
Aesthetics. The roof is a very visible part of the house and will affect the overall appearance. When choosing a roofing material, make sure that the texture and color is consistent with the styling of your home. Metal roofing, for instance, would look out of place in a Spanish-style structure.
Weight. This is one of the major installation issues that you should think about. Tile and slate are examples of roofing materials that are heavy. First assess the structural framing of the roof and how much weight it is designed to carry. If your choice of roofing is more than the limit, then you need to reinforce the framing. Of course, this will take more time and increase your roofing costs.
Cost. How much you spend on roof installation or replacement will depend on what material you use. There are affordable options like asphalt-fiberglass shingles and there are also very expensive types like copper roofing that can cost more than a thousand dollars per square. Also, you need to add the installation costs, which will depend on the height, steepness and complexity of the roofing design.
Which roofing material to use?
Asphalt shingles are very popular because they are affordable and easy to install. Aside from the cost, another advantage is that they come in various colors to match different architectural styles. However, asphalt shingles have a shorter lifespan compared to the other materials. With proper maintenance, they can last up to 25 years.
Wood shingles provide a natural, rustic look and matches well with bungalow, cottage or Tudor-style home. They are also lightweight and easy to install. Like asphalt, wood shingles can last up to 25 years but cost more. On the downside, fire codes in some areas prohibit their use unless they are treated with fire retardant. In wet climates, wood can grow mouldy or rot easily.
If you want your roof to add to your colonial or chateau-styled house’s classic appearance, choose slate. It is one of the most durable roofing materials around but can be quite expensive. It also heavy and you might need extra framing before installation.
If you’re not too fussy about getting the genuine kind, you can opt for slate alternatives which are cheaper and not as heavyweight. These varieties are made from plastic composites or fiber cement.
Clay and cement
Nothing adds texture to roofing like clay tiles. They are very elegant to look at and are very popular in Spanish or Mediterranean style homes. Clay tiles may come in flat, ribbed or scalloped designs but one thing these three have in common is their heavy weight, so they need to be installed by a professional.
A less expensive alternative to clay is cement tiles but these still weigh as much. One big pro that clay and cement tiles provide is that they are not only resistant to fire but also to rot and mildew. So, if you choose clay, expect your roof to last for 50 years.
Metal roofing is made from steel, aluminum, copper and other types of metal. They are sold in panels or shingles and are expensive. Like clay, it is resistant to fire, insects and rot; but an additional advantage is its resistance to weather conditions. This is why metal roofing is popular in areas with heavy snow. Depending on variety, it can last from 20 to 50 years and is lightweight.