Monday, January 11, 2010

Roofing Materials - How long do they last? How do you know when it is time to replace?

There are several roof types used in residential construction, but this article will cover the two most common: Tile Material and Asphalt/Fiberglass Shingle Material. These roofing material types are the most common because they are the most practical and most durable roofing material made in the last couple of decades.

Asphalt/Fiberglass Shingle Material

3-Tab(Standard) Asphalt Fiberglass Shingles

3-Tab Fiberglass shingles are the most common type of Asphalt Shingle used as of the writing of this article. Asphalt Fiberglass Shingles are made in two main types, "3-tab(Standard)" and "Laminated(Architectural)".

Laminated(Architectural) Asphalt Fiberglass Shingles

"Laminated" is the least common, but mainly because it is fairly new.  "Laminated" is often called "Architectural" Asphalt Fiberglass because of the depth and style added by its extra layers that are added to the shingle. They are also more durable than "3-tab" and over the next few years will probably be replacing the standard "3-tab" shingles.

Asphalt shingles are great because they are cost-efficient and most brands include a 15-30 year warranty.  These shingles are easy to maintain, and often can easily be patched by the homeowner.  These materials will begin to show wear in as early as 8-10 years in extreme weather environments, and are vulnerable to high winds.

Maintenance of Asphalt Fiberglass Shingles
The following pictures are some signs that you can look for to know when your roof may need some maintenance:

Cracking Shingles

Missing Shingles

Torn Shingles

Missing Tabs

Waves or Bumps

Wearing away of the Asphalt Layer
These are all common signs of deterioration of an Asphalt Fiberglass Shingle roof.  If you notice any of these signs of deterioration on your roof, you should repair the damaged area as soon as possible.  How do you know if it is better to replace, rather than repair? If you have never patched the roof before, and you are only experiencing a few of these issues, it may be more cost effective to repair.  On the other hand, if you have already repaired the roof several times and there are several more of these issues, it may be in your best interest to replace the roof.  The best thing to do if you are unsure in either situation would be to consult the opinion of a roofing contractor.  If you end up deciding to replace your roof, keep in mind that in most jurisdictions it is permissible to have up to three layers of roofing material on your roof before you will need to tear down and start over.  This means that instead of pulling all of the old material off, you can simply apply the new material over the existing material, saving you several hundreds of dollars in demolition and removal costs.

Tile Material
Tile Material roofs are made with two main types of material: Clay and Concrete.  The latter being the most durable and cost effective.

Clay Roofing Tile
Clay tiles are more glamorous, but have two drawbacks: Cost and Durability.  Clay is more fragile than concrete, but will last much longer than concrete if properly cared for.  In Europe, there are clay roofs that have lasted for several hundred years.  The cost of a clay roof however, is significantly higher than the cost of a concrete roof. Clay roofs were more common over three decades ago, but due to the cost are widely being replaced by Concrete Tiles.

Concrete Roofing Tile
Concrete tiles appear very similar to clay tiles, but are not as brittle and can hold more weight, but they only last about 30-50 years.  The use of Concrete Roofing Tiles became most widely used in the Southwestern Regions of the United States and is still most commonly used in that Region.  Concrete Tiles, like Clay Tiles are made in several different Patterns and Styles.

Although both types of Tiles are very durable and last several years, you should never just walk on these material types.  Due to the nature of the materials, any direct pressure in a weak location will cause the tile to crack.  Many homeowners mistakenly to this when decorating their home for the holidays.  Any maintenance done to the roof should be performed from a scaffolding, and preferably done by a roofing professional.  Tile roof material is the best roofing material for durability and longevity of the roof, but your roof must be able to sustain the additional weight of the tile roof.  If you are looking to replace your Asphalt/Fiberglass roof with a Tile roof, be sure to consult a building professional to determine whether or not the roof members can support the new roofing material.

Maintenance of Tile Roofs
The following pictures are some signs that you can look for to know when your roof may need some maintenance:

Shifting Tiles

Chipped Tiles

Cracked Tiles
These are the most common types of maintenance issues for Tile Roofing Materials.  If you notice any of these deficiencies, I do not recommend that you attempt to repair them on your own, unless you are familiar with walking on these types of roofs.  It is well worth the money to have a licensed roofer repair the roof, than to attempt to repair it yourself and cause more damage to the roof, only to have a licensed roofer repair the damage caused by improper weight distribution.

Proper Care of your Roof
In all cases, as long as you maintain the repairs, cut back any trees overgrowing the roof line, and keep the overall roof surface clean, you will get the optimum life expectancy of your roof type.

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