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Roofing Basics

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Selecting the right type of roofing for your home and having it properly installed will save you money in the long run.

Selecting the right type of roofing for your home and having it properly installed will save you money in the long run.

Inadequate roofing can lead to considerable repair costs down the road so it's wise to invest in a good quality, professionally-installed roof. Materials available on the market today are making it possible for homeowners to renovate or build with innovative, attractive and cost-efficient roofing products.

The roofing material you select will depend on the climate, the style of your home and the look you hope to achieve. Your contractors or roofing distributor should be able to explain the ins and outs of all the different materials available and can help steer you towards the best roofing material for your residence. Roofing is generally available in five different materials varying in price, installation method, appearance and maintenance.

Shingles

Shingle roofing is the most common roofing system seen in North America and is widely used for steep-sloped roofs. Available in both organic and synthetic materials, a good shingle roof consists of two layers of shingles covering the entire roof area, with the shingles almost half overlapping each other. Probably the most economical type of shingle roofing is composed of asphalt. Found to be an excellent natural preservative, asphalt has outstanding waterproofing and adhesive properties.

Metal

Various kinds of metal are used as roofing, including steel, aluminum, tern plate and copper, with each offering a different appearance and set of characterics .

Aluminum, one of the most highly protective roofing systems, is also light-weight and doesn’t require structural reinforcement. Rust-resistant, it also will not rot, curl, split or attract insects.

Copper, like aluminum, does not require structural reinforcement, and its appearance acutally improves with age. The patina process that copper undergoes adds to its beauty and protects the metal from further oxidation. Most architectural copper produced today has a high recycled content, making it a good choice as a “green” roofing product.

Check distributors for the light-weight steel roofing panels that recreate the look of cedar shakes or shingles.

Corrosion resistant, non-combustible and highly recyclable, metal roofing is well-suited for today's environmental priorities. Metal roofing can be installed over existing roofing, saving tear-off and disposal costs, and its excellent durability makes it suitable for extreme weather conditions. Available in a wide range of colours and textures which can be finished with fade-proof coatings, metal roofing has become a product as attractive and cost-effective as traditional systems. 

Wood shakes

Wood shake roofing is available in a number of grades. A top quality wood shake roof is never less than three layers in thickness. Selected for its appearance over durability, the drawbacks to wood shake includes its tendency to absorb and retain moisture and its flammability.

Most wood shakes are made from western red cedar. This wood is ideal as a roofing material because of its natural preservatives, fine grain, light weight and strength. Typically 18"-24" in length and 1/2"-7/8" thick, cedar shake roofing is more durable than cedar shingles. Cedar shakes are hand-split on one side and sawn on the other. Shakes that are hand-split have a rugged and grainy appearance, as opposed to sawn cedar shakes, which have a less textured look. As cedar shakes are exposed to the weather over the years, they will undergo a natural change in colour. After a few years, shakes will take on a silver-grey appearance and this colour will darken gradually over the roof’s lifetime.

Concrete and clay tile

Concrete and clay tile roofing is extremely heavy in weight, requiring structural reinforcement. Concrete tiles are extremely resistant to fire, hail, moisture and even hurricane force winds. To achieve maximum home protection, this type of roofing must be installed properly. Concrete tiles usually interlock at both sides and are secured by hooking their top ends over strips of wood strapping. Less expensive than clay tile, concrete can be molded and coloured to look like clay or even wood shakes. Clay tile, on the other hand, offers a more traditional look than concrete, with applications often seen on Mediterranean style homes. While one of the more expensive roofing materials, clay tile should last up to a century if properly installed.

Slate

Slate is recognized as one of the most enduring and beautiful roofing products. Certain types of slate are extremely durable and if properly laid, flashed and fastened, can last for more than one hundred years. The metal flashings and bases of these roofs must be properly formed and fitted, as poor installation will compromise the value of even the most beautiful application. Because of the expense of slate and the importance of proper installation, this type of roofing should only be installed by professionals.

 

Photographer: 

Andrew Waller

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