Best Roof Types for Florida and Coastal Areas: Miami FL, Houston TX, and Other Hurricane-Prone Areas

Let’s face it, weather is the driving factor for why humanity seeks shelter. When it’s beautiful outdoors, we are there to enjoy it. But when Mother Nature packs a punch, we all seek the protection under a durable roof of a well-constructed abode.

Hurricane Mitigation — Adequate Roof Protection is a Must for Coastal Living

Seaside property, aka coastal living, has long been coveted for its fantastic views and access to beaches. Yet, the glaring disadvantage comes from hurricanes or tropical storms that make landfall.

Wind-damaged roof with blown off shingles

via Turner Roofing

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Did you know? Whether in Florida, Louisiana, Oklahoma, or Texas, it’s not uncommon to see many wind-damaged roofs from which some shingles have been blown off after a major storm or hurricane ripped through the area.

In the continental U.S., Florida tops the list of states with its 1350 miles of ocean-side coastlines. East, West, and Southern borders are all exposed to the Atlantic sea. A great treasure when the sea is relatively calm. While sticking out like a sore thumb during hurricane season.

Wind Damaged Homes after Hurricane Andrew

via Florida Disaster

Hurricane Andrew, in 1992, was a historical storm that had an impact on Florida which is still playing out today. Wind speeds topped 165 mph and left $25 billion in damages to the state. Around 125,000 homes in Miami-Dade County alone, were severely devastated or completely destroyed.

It may be impossible to overcome the ferocity of a natural occurrence that packs that degree of a punch. Since Andrew, Florida has sought to lessen the chances of that much damage occurring at once.

Did you know? Building codes throughout Florida have undergone significant changes, particularly to High Velocity Hurricane Zones (HVHZs), namely Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.

In these areas, as of 2007, the laws governing construction of roofs are very thorough and highly specific. The goal is to ensure standard materials are used and implemented to withstand the intense pressure found in an HVHZ.

To get an idea of just how extensive the codes are, see this page on Hurricane Mitigation from Miami-Dade County’s Building Permits section.

In all, the state of Florida codes address hundreds of details for sloped and flat residential roofs. Everything from requirements on synthetic felt underlayment, precise spacing for fasteners, disallowing staples, taping over all joints in sheathing and retrofitting whenever possible. To top it all off, inspections before, during and after roof construction are deemed prudent and necessary.

Did you know? Roofing contractors have to be licensed, bonded, insured, and have a worker’s compensation coverage in order to do roofing work in the state of Florida. A prospective contractor must pass a test to get the state license. A contractor also must get a county license in the counties they will be working in.

Roofing Materials That Work for Miami Dade County and Other High-Wind Areas

Standing Seam Metal Roof on a beach house with cedar shake siding

There are essentially two camps in Florida, those that live in an HVHZ and those outside of those zones. Obviously, those in the zones, will need roofs with the highest wind resistance ratings.

Some roofing manufacturers, such as Union Corrugating, have product lines that are geared specifically toward residents in HVHZs.

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Which brings us to the roofing materials that work for coastal living. In most other areas of the U.S. sunlight is a huge factor as all roofs will age over the long haul due to constant sunlight (and heat) beating down on it.

With an oceanfront property, salt spray in the air must be considered. And we’ve already covered wind from hurricane forces. Yet, those same forces can take your average rainstorm and have you realize that horizontal, wind-driven rain that gets under overlapping roofing material, could pose a problem unlike other areas where rain tends to fall more vertically.

Clay, Concrete, and Slate Tiles

Spanish style clay tile roof on a stucco home in Florida

Orange, brown, or Terra Cotta clay tiles on a home with stucco siding is virtually the default image of coastal living in Florida. Clay or ceramic tiles may come in other colors, are easily recycled and resistant to fire.

Clay tiles work for coastal living because they will not deteriorate from salt spray, plus clay tiles do hold up well to winds at 100+ mph. The installation can benefit from the use of superior underlayments and proper flashing techniques to ensure rainwater stays away from the roof deck sheathing. Clay tiles usually carry a 30-year warranty and can last between 50 and 100 years with occasional maintenance.

Boral Slate Florida Blend

via Florida Standard Roofing

For an even greater lifespan, natural slate can be another great option, where architecturally appropriate. 50-year warranties are typical, and you’ll find it can last up to 100 years in many cases.

There are two key differences though between slate and concrete or clay tiles. Clay tiles allow for more airflow, allowing the water barrier/underlayment to breeze better. Secondly, the weight load from slate is significantly more than all other roofing materials.

The reasons slate and clay tile may not work for you are their high cost and fragility. Both can easily cost $15.50 to $25.50 per sq. ft. for the installation, and likely top that given the extensive regulations in Florida coastlines.

However, given the longevity of slates and tiles, the cost is actually a great value. In terms of being fragile, this occurs when a force with extra weight impacts the material.

Large hail will take its toll on any roof, though natural slate and stone-coated steel tiles tend to be the best.

Did you know? human walking on top of either a clay or slate tile can lead to a loss in its structural integrity if not outright cracking. Further, large branches falling onto the roof are capable of cracking either of these tile options.

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