The roof is an afterthought for most of us — until something does wrong, that is. But the roof is a huge contributor to the look and energy efficiency of a house. We all know about heat and air escaping through windows, but how little do we think about the energy lost up above. Heat rises after all.
Luckily, thanks to increasing concern about energy efficiency, there’s a trend in the market toward engineered and EnergyStar qualified products, which can reduce air conditioning needs by 10 to 15%. Depending on your needs, you might find unexpected materials will be right for you. Here’s a rundown of the most common materials roofing contractors use.
This is the material you’ll see most on residential houses. It’s one of the least expensive options, comes in a range of colors, and are guaranteed for 20 years or so. Of course, they’re so common that you might find them boring if you’re looking to have a building with character.
Wood shingles tend to be more attractive, but they’re more expensive and need to meet fire codes. Get ready to pay for roof repair often as they need consistent maintenance, too. Wood roofs are good for air circulation, so they’re ideal roofing solutions for homes in mild climates that don’t tend to need much heating or cooling. Of course this also means they’ll let out heat and air easily, so you may need extended insulation options if you want wood shingles in a more extreme climate.
Slate is popular for high-end residential roofers and commercial roofing. It lasts decades, doesn’t gunk up, but is very expensive and heavy. There are, however, engineered fake slate products made from recycled materials which are lighter and just as attractive.
You can make a statement with a metal roof. Metal roofs, in the form of corrugated, galvanized sheets, are utilitarian, cheap, and long lasting.
Don’t dismiss metal as rural barn stuff, though. The majority of roofing materials reflect only a small amount of light away from the building, absorbing a good 85-95% of the sun’s energy. Shiny metal, however reflects most light and can save youup to 40% in summer cooling energy costs (meanwhile emissable materials can reduce city temperatures by 12 degrees Fahrenheit).
For more refined tastes, roofing contractors can get you copper. Expensive, but popular for its shiny auburn color. Just be prepared for lots of ping-ing during rain storms.
You can find ceramic roofs in the Mediterranean, so this is the choice if you want that sort of look.Roofing contractors will use barrel tiles most of the time, named for their cylindrical shape.
Last but not least, a special mention to solar panels. They’re 60% cheaper than four years ago and you can get a tax break if you use them by 2016. It helps the environment, generates energy for your house instead of letting it loose, and will put you ahead as a modern and efficient homeowner.