Category Archives: roofing materials

How Long Does a Roof Last? Top Signs You Need a New Roof

If you are in the process of buying a new home, you probably want to know the age of the roof and how much longer it will last. Similarly, if you’ve lived in your home for a while, you are probably also wondering about the current condition of the roof and whether it’s time to consider some viable replacement options.

Curled-up shingles

This guide outlines the expected lifespans of most popular roofing systems for homes. Print it out and use it to assess the life expectancy of any roof when buying a new home or planning for future roof replacement needs in your own home.

Right Off the Bat: A typical asphalt shingle roof will last anywhere from 15 to 25 years before requiring replacement.

That said, there are several different kinds of asphalt shingles, as well as other roofing materials to consider when estimating longevity of a particular roofing system. Let’s get started.

1. Asphalt Shingles

3 tab shingle is the most basic and least costly asphalt shingle option for slopped roofs. A typical 3-tab asphalt shingle roof will last anywhere from 10 to 20 years.

Cracks or thermal splitting in asphalt shingles

3-tab shingles are an OK option for temperate climates, but they are not at all suitable for storm-prone areas. The maximum wind-uplift a 3-tab shingle roof can withstand is 60 MPH to 70 MPH.

Note: When exposed to strong, direct sunlight and rapid temperature changes (thermal shocks) commonly associated with southern states and dessert climate zones (think Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, Nevada, and parts of California dessert), asphalt shingles can develop cracks, resulting in a greatly diminished lifespan and premature failure.

Architectural aka Dimensional Shingles are thicker and hence more durable and longer-lasting than their entry-level counterparts, three tab shingles. Most architectural shingle roofs will last anywhere from 15 to 25 years, depending on their environment.

Maximum wind uplift for most architectural shingle products is 110 MPH. With a special installation method and roof-frame bracing, the wind uplift rating can be increased to 130 MPH.

Premium Shingles are normally fancier-looking asphalt shingles designed for premium homes. A premium shingle is normally thicker and will last longer than a mid-range architectural shingle. Expected lifespan of a premium shingle roof is anywhere from 20 to 30 years, depending on the environment.

GAF Premium Asphalt Shingles: Camelot Williamsburg Slate

Wind uplift ratings for premium shingles are similar to architectural shingles. Premium shingles can also include special properties such as enhanced solar reflectance aka CoolRoof rating and impact resistance for hail prone areas.

See more details on various types of premiums shingles here: https://www.roofingcalc.com/gaf-vs-certainteed-roofing-shingles/

Tell-Tale Signs to Consider Replacement: If the asphalt shingles on your roof have developed major cracks, lost a lot of sand granules, are chipping and look dried-up or curled up, then you know it’s time for a new roof.

If the shingles are still in a seemingly good shape, but the roof has sustained significant storm or hail damage, then it’s probably time to consider replacement or partial replacement.

Install Roof Shingles

$7,500
Average price
Install Metal Roof

$14,500
Average price
Install Flat Roof

$8,225
Average price

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Roofing Shingles Vs. Cedar Shakes Costs, Plus Pros & Cons in 2019

In this guide, we present a side-by-side comparison of cedar shingles and shakes vs. asphalt roofing, with focus on on material composition, installation costs, plus pros and cons and ROI of each option. Let’s get started!

The Difference Between Wood Shingles & Shakes

When used in roof covering, wood can be either shakes or shingles. Wood shakes have been used for centuries. They are split from logs and often left as split to retain the textured, rough-hewn effect.

Cedar shakes around a skylight Source: Kuhl’s Contracting

A wood shake is instantly recognizable by its thick butt end. With the advent of commercial sawmills a wood shake was often sawn after splitting to achieve a uniform back side.

These sawmills also produced a completely uniform product with an even taper and identical thickness by sawing shakes on both sides. This manufactured product is known as a wood shingle.

California redwood, western red cedar, cypress, spruce and pine are all used to manufacture wood shakes and shingles. Cedar is the most popular wood for shakes, southern yellow pine is also popular. Wood shakes and shingles can be pressure treated with fire retardants and chemical preservatives.

Types of Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt or composition shingles are most commonly constructed from organic material or fiberglass. Asphalt shingles are built upon a base or mat that was originally made of absorbent cotton rags.

Roofing Shingles Display

Later, more readily available wood pulp or paper replaced the natural fibers. Asphalt was poured onto that base, known as “felt”.

In the 1970s, fibrous glass was introduced, which did not rot like the organic materials. Today, 95 percent of asphalt shingles feature fiberglass felt.

Cedar Shingles/Shakes Cost Vs. Asphalt

In the roofing industry, an 18-inch wood shingle is referred to as “Perfection” and 24-inch wide shingles are known as “Royal.” A wood shake is a premium product, costing around $3.50 per square foot versus $2.50 a square foot for wood shingles.

Cedar Shakes Siding and Asphalt Roof By Red House Architects

The most expensive option for shingling a roof is wood shakes — between $6.50 to $11.00 per square foot or $650 and $1,100 per square (100 square feet), installed.

Cedar Shakes Roof By Linda McDougald Design

Wood shingles are slightly less pricey at $4.50 to $9.00 per square foot or $450 to $900 per square, installed.

For comparison, asphalt roofing can cost as little as $2.75 to $5.50 per square foot or $350 to $550 per square, installed.

Roofing Shingles Installation

Install Roof Shingles

$7,500
Average price
Install Metal Roof

$14,500
Average price
Install Flat Roof

$8,225
Average price

See costs in your area Start Here - Enter Your Zip Code

So, why do homeowners opt for the much more expensive wood shingling? The answer is…

Aesthetics

It is hard to beat the appearance of a natural wood roof. If you are making over a traditional older house, cedar roofing is probably the historically appropriate choice. Not that asphalt shingles are an unattractive alternative.

Asphalt shingles come in a wide variety of colors and shapes and patterned asphalt roofs can be eye-catching in their own right.

Beyond looking great, wood shingling does not win many comparison battles with its asphalt-covered competition. Let’s explore some of the pros and cons up on your roof…

Longevity

Life expectancy for both asphalt and wood shingles is a tricky matter. Let’s tick off all the factors that can affect the longevity of a roof covering: quality of installation, diligence of maintenance, quality of materials, age of the house, overhanging trees, climate and foot traffic.

Chemically treated wood will outlast untreated shakes and shingles and a shake will survive longer than a shingle. Both asphalt and treated wood shingles can survive up to 30 years on a roof, given ideal conditions.

Durability Cedar shingles are resistant to insects but not large amounts of rain. Cedar shakes in a damp environment are susceptible to mold and mildew and rot.

Sap from overhanging trees will encourage mildew. When rot sets in it has likely affected more than a single shake and the entire roof is a candidate for replacement.

Cleaning Costs

Asphalt has its own weather issues. Algae is more likely to take hold on an asphalt roof than cedar shakes. While this will not hamper your roof’s protection abilities, it does lead to unsightly staining and premature replacement on appearance grounds, especially at resale time.

Cleaning either a asphalt or wood shingle roof with a solution of water and bleach applied professionally and gently with a powerwasher will run from $25 to $30 per square. And this is a job best left to competent professionals as a poorly handled powerwasher can wreak havoc on roof shingles.

Flammability

Some building codes where fire is a danger restrict or ban the use of wood shingling altogether. Asphalt shingles have a high resistance to flames.

Keep in mind that wood shakes and shingles can be pressure treated with fire retardants and chemical preservatives.

Wind and Impact Resistance

Cedar shakes and shingles are the clear winner here. Both have proven to be highly impact-resistant and have tested to withstand wind speeds of up to 245 miles per hour (which your house will never see).

Asphalt shingles will, however, blow off a roof in high winds. Fallen branches are also much more likely to damage an asphalt shingle that a wooden one.

Maintenance

Cedar is a high maintenance material. For starters, the wood needs to breathe and the roof must be kept clear of leaves, branches and debris.

Gutters must be regularly cleaned and ventilation kept open for air to flow around the shakes and shingles.

Topical treatments can be applied as water repellents and ultraviolet inhibitors that can prevent graying of a roof.

If individual shakes or shingles are required they will match the composition and color of the original roof – score one point for cedar.

While algae will not impair the performance of asphalt shingles, mosses that grow on a damp roof can cause the edges to lift or curl leaving them vulnerable to a blow-off in storms.

Moss can be removed with a 50:50 mix of laundry-strength liquid chlorine bleach and water soaked with a low-pressure sprayer.

The moss will eventually loosen and can be swept off the roof. It will return, however, if many of the same measures as keeping a wood roof dry – trimming tree branches, removing debris and clearing gutters — are not followed. Replacing individual shingles is often a DIY job.

ROI, Property Valuations, and Curb Appeal Considerations

In terms of property valuations, replacing a cedar roof with asphalt will instantly diminish the value of your property. — On some historic homes, as well as homes surrounded by other homes roofed with cedar, such as in historic districts/neighborhoods, this may not even be an option to begin with.

However, if you must replace a cedar roof with something else, then opting for a metal roof rather than asphalt will help preserve the valuation and curb appeal of your property.

Conclusion

On the cost and maintenance considerations – the “Big Two” for most homeowners – asphalt shingles are the clear choice over wood shakes.

And in fact, about 70 percent of American roofs are covered with asphalt shingles today. On the other hand, those wood shingled-roofs just look so darn good, don’t they? 😉


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Corrugated Metal Vs. Standing Seam – Myth Busters

Who Invented the Original, Corrugated Iron / Steel Roofing Style?

Henry Robinson Palmer learned his civil engineering under Scotsman Thomas Telford, the greatest builder of roads, canals and bridges in the British Empire in the early 19th century.

Standing Seam Vertical Panels

In 1821 Palmer applied for a patent for a single elevated rail supported by pillars spaced ten feet apart that sported wheeled carriages hanging down from either side that would roll along the rail when pulled by a horse. Henry Robinson Palmer had invented the world’s first monorail.

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If you research Palmer’s life today, every source details the creation of the monorail. For most thumbnail sketches of Palmer’s life that is the end of the story, but Palmer himself did not concern himself much with the monorail after building the first one in 1825, about one mile long, in Cheshunt, a town twelve miles from London.

Two years later the 32-year old Palmer landed a job as resident engineer for the London Dock Company. It was his responsibility to construct the walls along the Thames River to keep the world’s busiest port humming.

The aging wooden docks were in constant need of upgrade. To keep up Palmer patented a lightweight metal building panel that was self-supporting due to a series of waves or folds molded into the sheets.

Palmer’s manufacturing process consisted of pushing his sheet metal across fluted rollers to create the ridges that gave the metal strength. He called this “corrugation”, from the Latin word for “wrinkled.” It remains a common method for manufacturing corrugated metal today.

Palmer erected the world’s first corrugated building on the Thames River docks in 1829 and he continued to patent improvements in the construction of arches and roofs.

It is ironic that today Henry Robinson Palmer is remembered for the invention of the monorail, which is rarely encountered outside of amusement parks, airports and a classic Simpsons episode. He is scarcely recognized for the development of corrugation, which became so ubiquitous in the 19th century for cheap shelter that most people – and historians – assumed it had been with us since antiquity.

Historical Significance of Corrugation

corrugated metal roof

Without corrugated metal there would have been no rapid development of the United States frontier, a less frantic California gold rush, much slower settling of farm land on the Great Plains and much harsher living conditions on the battlefield.

The strength to materials imparted by corrugation extended beyond the metal sop to other industries; it was critical to the development of the cardboard, for instance.

Metal Roof Construction

metal-roof-on-a-log-home

By stiffening the metal sheets, corrugation permits a greater span across a lighter framework, ideal for the balloon construction techniques that became widespread in the 19th century.

But metal for roofing has been used for centuries, although it was rare in early America. Thomas Jefferson was a metal roof fanboy and installed tin-plate iron on the roof of his beloved Monticello in rural Virginia.

A metal roof could be fabricated with shingles or a “standing seam,” a technique which involved folding the edges upwards and laying the sheets over one another. Fasteners would hide under the upraised ridge where the sheets interlocked, producing clean, aesthetically pleasing lines.

monticello roof

Metal Shingles Vs. Standing Seam Vs. Corrugated Metal Sheets

Steel Shingles Roof

While metal shingles are also available today and can be produced to mimic any material, standing seam and corrugation remain the two most common types of metal roofs. Let’s have a look at them side by side as you consider your upcoming remodeling project.

elegant standing seam metal roof By Gast Architects

Install Roof Shingles

$7,500
Average price
Install Metal Roof

$14,500
Average price
Install Flat Roof

$8,225
Average price

See costs in your area Start Here - Enter Your Zip Code

Materials

The earliest metals used in roofing were lead and copper. Both could last for centuries, which is fortunate since those metals are prohibitively expensive. Today, lead is most often found in roofing as a coating for steel and copper is mostly reserved for flashing or architectural details.

Tin and its close cousin terne, a lead-tin mixture that appears lackluster (hence its French name which translates as dull), were the most common metal roofing materials of the 19th century and are important in authentic historical renovations.

Zinc had a brief run of popularity in the early 1800s as a roofing material, but it became most critical to metal roofing in 1837 when French metallurgists coated iron and steel with zinc to invent galvanization and (mostly) rust-proof metal.

In the 21st century, galvanized steel is the go-to metal roofing material. It is the least expensive roofing material and can be coated in many ways for appearance. Corrugated metal can be fabricated from a G-60 steel that is thinner grade and less expensive.

Standard standing seam roofs can be made from G-90 grade steel, a higher-end Galvalume steel, or aluminum.

Galvanized steel is fabricated in a range from 9 gauge (0.1532 inches) to 32 gauge (0.0134 inches). Standing seam metal panels typically begin as rolls of 24-gauge steel (G-24) or the thicker 22-gauge (G-22) before ferrous metal coatings are hot-dipped.

Corrugated steel paneling can be formed from G-26 or G-29 steel, which makes its cost less expensive; standing seam roofs will never use steel thinner than 26-gauge.

standing-seam-panels

Even galvanized steel can corrode. Galvalume is a trademarked product from U.S. Steel that takes carbon steel and coats it with an aluminum-zinc alloy that performs like galvanized steel on steroids.

But even Galvalume will eventually lose the corrosion battle against the salt spray of ocean near the coastal regions. In such cases, aluminum is the metal of choice. Although more expensive than steel, initially, aluminum’s longer life expectancy helps level the eventual bottom lines.

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