A very important question when roofing your house is, “What roofing material do I use?” When choosing a roofing material, the best depends on what your particular circumstances are. There are several criteria that must be considered, such as; slope of your roof, local year round weather conditions, strength of your rafters, total durability of material, and of course price. I can’t recommend either paint on roofing or wood shake shingles. Neither are durable and the wood shake are fire prone, no matter how you treat them. Be sure to address all of these when choosing a material.
- The slope of your roof plays a very important role. Some materials work great on steep roofs, but leak tragically on flat surfaces. Some types do well on flat roofs, but wear too quickly on steep roofs. A common material for very steep roofs is sheet metal. It allows all kinds of precipitation to slide off easily. Unfortunately, it leaks like a sieve on flat surface roofs. For a basically flat roof, less than one foot of drop per ten feet of run, tar with a surface coat like gravel is long lived and easily patched. However, on a steep roof, tar slides and degrades in just one hot day. Two good choices for medium slope roofs are asphalt shingles and ceramic shingles. They both shed water and sit tight. The differences are in the other considerations.
- Flat roofs are a bad idea in heavy rain or snow conditions. So tar roofs are not the best choice there. They really only work in areas that are mostly dry. Sheet metal roofs work well in most environments as far as watershed goes, but can bleed heat and cold if not carefully insulated. Asphalt and ceramic both work in most environments, due to their durability and surface types. Both are also good at insulating themselves to a certain degree, but be sure to insulate well in any case.
- Rafter strength plays a huge roll in material choice. If you have weak rafters, tar and ceramic will not work. They are heavy materials, which adds to their over all durability, but can lead to bowing of your roof. Asphalt and sheet metal are lighter, meaning you can use them on most rafters, but they lack the extreme long life of ceramic.
- Total durability is the long term goal of any roof. Tar can be patched quickly and cheaply, so total replacement is rare. Sheet metal lasts as long as nothing punctures it, so as long as no trees fall and you do not walk on it unnecessarily, it should last a long time.
- Asphalt shingles can stay in place for at least ten years, and if you go top of the line, even twenty or thirty. Ceramic has the longest lifespan. Unless broken, they never actually go bad. They are almost always made thick enough to walk on carefully and can be pressure washed to remove dirt, moss or any other detritus. A ceramic roof should last at least thirty years and maybe even longer.
- So the final consideration is price. Tar roofs are a moderately priced option, but fit only a small niche. Sheet metal roofs are usually a lot cheaper, but need a specialized roof to work. Asphalt shingles are moderately priced, long lived and easily repaired. Ceramic is quite expensive, but it is also a roof that will outlast most occupants of a house.