Take care of the rooftop on your home and it will shelter your family for a lifetime.
“The rooftop material’s primary function is to protect the underlayment from rain and weather,” said Kyle Tibbitts, general manager at Shea Homes.
Asphalt paper and synthetic paper materials are used by builders to cover the rooftop decking in order to seal it from water leakage into the home. Layers of roofing material are added on top of this initial layer to provide further protection, as well as an aesthetic look to enhance the architectural design.
There are several different types of materials to consider when designing the rooftop on any building.
Asphalt shingles are the most common type of roofing material used in construction today, because of their low manufacturing cost, flexibility and ease of installation into repeatable patterns that can fit almost any type of rooftop shape or pitch.
Asphalt shingles are relatively lightweight compared to tile or stone materials. There are multiple selections of colors and textures available. Newer “dimensional” shingles have a second vertical layer of shingle bonded to the bottom layer in a designer pattern, to create a rooftop that is fuller, more aesthetic, durable and less likely to warp under the hot desert sun.
Asphalt shingles can last as long as 20 years before needing replacement but can be susceptible to mold and mildew, so they should be inspected on an annual basis.
Dimensional, multilayer shingles can enhance the standard lifespan as long as 40 years, if properly inspected and maintained, but also add more weight to the rooftop and cost about 20 percent more to manufacture and install.
Tile decorative tile rooftops have their own unique beauty, whether made from terracotta clay, concrete or more expensive stone materials like slate. The tile materials also provide a strong surface that sheds water easily, does not rot, repels insects, allows for air circulation between the tile and rooftop and are also fire-resistant.
A tile rooftop usually does not require much maintenance once installed. However, if individual tiles are damaged by debris or weather during a storm, the tiles should be replaced as quickly as possible, so as not to form an area where water, debris or sun exposure might damage the exposed rooftop underneath. Unrepaired tiles can necessitate more costly repairs later on.
Tiles are also heavier than shingles or other roofing materials. The structure of the home and roof decking should be designed to support the added weight over the lifetime of the building.
Tile roofs are very popular in the Southwest because of their architectural harmony with desert landscapes, as well as their resistance to heat.
Often, when a development community like Ardiente in North Las Vegas is being built, new buyers will have just one choice of rooftop material that is relatively uniform throughout all home models.
“We offer multiple colors of tile and pattern designs, but we want to build a community that has a cohesive appearance,” explained Tibbitts.
Wood Shake roofing materials have centuries of tradition, mostly made from cedar, but can actually be made from almost any type of hardwood, as well as composite wood materials. Wood is a natural insulator, yet allows air to circulate through to the attic, is durable, and has a pleasing aesthetic look, especially in a rustic environment.
However, the installation of the natural wood materials onto a rooftop can require more time, craftsmanship and custom shaping. Wood shakes are susceptible to insects, moss, moisture, high winds, and fire, which have resulted in more restrictive building codes and even prohibition in fire-prone regions. Pressure-treated wood shake materials can include fire-retardant chemicals that can resist fire and meet higher building code standards.
However, more frequent inspections are usually required for any wood shake roof.
Non-wood shake substitutes have also been created from stone, polymers and synthetic materials to mimic the look of wood, yet are low-maintenance and resistant to many of the problems associated with wood construction.
Metal roofs are becoming more popular due to their light weight and improved construction techniques. Steel, aluminum, copper and zinc can be manufactured as shingles, tiles, shakes or any other shape that is useful to an architect or builder.
Like a knight’s coat of armor, a metal rooftop can resist high winds, hail and storm debris, as well as moss, mold and mildew. A metal rooftop can last 50 years and is recyclable at the end of its lifespan. However, the price of copper and other metals can be significantly higher than other roofing materials.
Modified Bitumen Materials
Modified Bitumen materials use asphalt mixed with chemical additives that make the resulting material thinner and more flexible than standard asphalt shingles. The material sheets are applied in six layers with adhesive bonding to create a watertight and weather-resistant seal. The process is more labor-intensive but creates a roof that will easily last 20 years or more.
Sprayed Polyurethane Foam, or SPF, is one of the more popular roofing materials for commercial buildings with flat rooftops. The foam is sprayed over the top of an unfinished roof deck surface, just like interior insulation, then covered with a rubberized coating to seal it.
Sprayed foam roofs create a continuous surface without seams and gaps that can trap or leak water. The foam material does not usually require a lot of maintenance unless there is structural damage due to storms or debris. Installation and repair is relatively inexpensive. The lightweight material does not affect the underlying structure of the building.
Chemical coatings can provide a protective layer against weathering for almost every type of roofing material. The coatings are usually elastic, so they retain their protective coverage even after impact from hail, snow, rain or debris.
Coatings usually require little maintenance, but can be repainted or resprayed over time to preserve their protective qualities.
Reflective paint that contains aluminum flakes or other chemistries can repel up to 85 percent of the sun’s rays as light and heat.
Granular coatings also can help reflect ultraviolet light while adding a sparkly texture that enhances the appearance of foam or asphalt shingle roofs.
Living in the desert climate of the Las Vegas Valley, there are areas of dense population and building structures that can create “urban heat islands.” These micro-regions can trap heat and reflect it to other nearby buildings during the hot summers from June to September, amplifying the heat in the area. Choices of roofing materials and reflective coatings can help mitigate the way the sun strikes the rooftop to diminish heat absorption wherever possible, as well as effects on other nearby buildings and local residents.
If a homebuyer is considering installing photovoltaic solar panels on their rooftop, some roofing materials are more adaptable to mounting structures than others. Also, the effects of the weight of the additional solar panels and mounting devices on the load-bearing structures of the home must be considered, as well. Again, consult with a building contractor, as well as a solar installer, to find the most compatible roofing materials.
A rooftop with a long life can make a homeowner’s quality of life much better, as well.