Roofing Materials By Region

You might think a roof is just a roof, and that as long as it is constructed properly, that this should be enough. That is not necessarily so. Different locales have considerably different weather patterns, and there is the range from excruciatingly hot to bitter cold. Considerations in these opposites make a difference in not only your own personal comfort, but your wallet, too, when it comes time to pay the utility bill. Research has shown that different types of roofing materials work better in some locales. Knowing where to start is the first step in a roof that will not only protect you from the elements, but will help keep utility bills down. Here, we will discuss the different types of roofs for different locales, and the reasons why this is so.

What People Want

A study by Synovate, a national research firm, shows that 80% of the American public wants a roof that is low maintenance, durable and has a warranty of up to 50 years. Eighty five percent of those surveyed wanted roofing materials that have a high resistance to wind, fire and ice. Asphalt shingles, whether regular asphalt or composite, are the traditional choice for roofs. They are inexpensive as compared to other types of roofing, come in a variety of shapes and colors, and are easy to install. Composite shingles, manufactured from recycled plastics mixed with fire retardants, are becoming very popular, and are longer lasting than the typical asphalt shingle. The asphalt shingle is made from felt strips that are dipped in tar, and a granular coating is then applied.

Hot Weather Roofs

As asphalt is the choice of shingles, they must be highly reflective in hot climates. Temperatures on a black asphalt roof can reach 180 degrees on a day that is sunny with no wind. To get around this, a coating with high reflective properties can be applied over a dark roof to reflect the sun. These materials have a reflectance of 80% when applied. One thing to keep in mind with this coating is that it degrades after about 5 years, and the reflectance drops to about 50%. Ceramic coatings and elastomeric coatings have a reflective value of 80%, while a regular white shingle only gives you a 25% reflective value. Regular white shingles are actually gray, with a rough texture and a black substrate, making them a poor reflector of light. If you live in a home that has a roof that is not visible, then a roof built of solar reflecting white roof is almost as cheap as a white shingled roof. If you have a roof with steep slopes that are highly visible from the street, then a good choice is solar-reflective asphalt shingles. Be aware that they are hard to find. White clay, concrete, or fiber cement tiles are probably the best choice, although more expensive.

Alden Smith is an award winning author and regular contributor to He writes on a variety of subjects, and excels in research.