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Pros and Cons of Using Different Roofing Materials

Are you looking to replace your roof but are confused by the sheer variety of materials that your roofers offer? This list of the pros and cons of different roofing materials might make things simpler for you:

Asphalt Shingles
The most common residential roofing material, asphalt shingles are popular because they are economical and easy to install. These shingles can be reinforced with fiberglass or organic materials (cellulose) without changing the appearance of the shingle.

Pros:

  • Comes in a variety of colours
  • Widely available
  • One of the least expensive materials (costs $70 to $120 a square)
  • Easy to install

Cons:

  • Has a shorter life span than other roofing materials (only 20 to 25 years)
  • Doesn’t provide the insulation other materials offer
  • Quality varies

Clay Tiles
Flat, ribbed, or scalloped clay tiles are moulded from pulverized clay and water.

Pros:

  • Hundreds of glaze colours available
  • Lasts 50 to 100 years
  • Non-combustible

Cons:

  • About 30% more expensive than concrete tiles
  • Costs $250 to $500+ per square, uninstalled
  • Can weigh 1000+ pounds per square
  • Usually requires reinforced wood framing
  • Tiles can crack or chip

House Styles: Mediterranean, Mission, Southwestern and Spanish style homes.

Concrete Tiles

Pros:

  • Can be molded to interlock so they’re easy to install
  • Long-lasting (tiles will last around 40 to 50 years if maintained properly)
  • Non-combustible
  • Energy efficient
  • Versatile
  • Less expensive than genuine clay
  • Lighter-weight types available
  • Some products come with limited lifetime warranties transferrable to new owners
  • Only maintenance is checking for cracked or loose tiles

Cons:

  • Costs $150 to $250 per square, uninstalled for standard types and $350 to $500 per
  • square for lightweight types

  • Heavy
  • Roof framing may need to be reinforced to handle the weight

Metal Roofing
Available in two types, panels and shingles, metal roofs come in aluminum, copper, stainless steel and zinc.

Pros:

  • Resistant to extreme weather conditions
  • Durable, lasts longer than asphalt or wood
  • Offers high solar reflectance
  • Can last 40 to 50 years; color coatings guaranteed against fading for 25 years
  • Lightweight
  • Fire-resistant
  • Aluminum won’t rust
  • Recyclable

Cons:

  • Relatively expensive (prices usually start around $100 to $300 a square, but some styles
  • can cost $600 to $800 a square)

  • Conducts heat
  • Can be noisy
  • Lower grades of aluminum can be dented

Slate
Offering lots of beauty, distinctive elegant appearance, unrivaled durability and fire resistance, slate tiles are available in many different colours and grades, depending on the origin of the tile, and include shades of black, green, grey, red and purple.

Pros:

  • Considered virtually indestructible
  • Fire-resistant
  • Sustainable roof that can be recycled
  • Lasts 100+ years; only maintenance is replacing broken tiles

Cons:

  • Prices start at about $600 a square and up
  • Can weigh 700 to 2,000 pounds per square
  • Usually requires reinforced roof framing
  • Requires specialized skills and expertise to install
  • Quality can vary with imported slate

Wood Shingles and Shake
The go-to roofing choice for hundreds of years, many homeowners love the look of wood shingles and shakes. Wood shakes are handmade and rougher looking than wood shingles, which are usually cut by machine. These roofing materials require a roof with at least a 4:12 slope to shed water.

Pros:

  • Offers a rustic look
  • Are a natural product usually made from cedar, redwood and southern pine
  • Wood’s natural character blends with the landscape

Cons:

  • Is flammable, so fire codes in some areas prohibit use
  • Can be a concern in wet climates (can mould, split, or rot)
  • Only lasts 15 to 25 years
  • Must apply preservative and fungicide every 2 to 5 years

Rubber Composite
Also known as synthetic slate, rubber composite shingles are molded from a blend of plastic and rubber bonded molecularly.

Pros:

  • Slate-like texture
  • Lightweight yet strong and flexible
  • Fifty-year warranties are typical
  • Only maintenance is checking for damaged shingles
  • Cons:

  • Limited supplier network
  • Cost is $295 to $400 per square, uninstalled

Synthetic Roofing Products
There are now synthetic roofing products, including rubber, plastic, and polymer roofing, developed to give you the colour, look, and texture of natural materials like slate and wood. Make sure to check with the manufacturer and inquire about warranty information. Look at full-size samples of the synthetic product and the manufacturers’ brochures.

Pros:

  • Often not as fragile, heavy or expensive as natural products
  • Designed to be strong and easy to maintain
  • Most materials are fire-resistant
  • Typically warrantied for up to 50 years

Cons:

  • Some of these products can absorb water
  • The quality varies
  • Newer products aren’t as time-tested as traditional materials
  • Prices start at about $300 a square

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