New Roofing Materials

From recycled shingles to imitation slate, there are a few new roofing products available to the home remodeler and home builder.

What particular roofing material is the best? Is there anything new "under the sun" in roofing materials? Since men emerged from their caves and started building independent structures, the roof has always been the most important part of the house. Without a good, waterproof roof, your house would deteriorate from the weather. Sometimes a roof is strictly utilitarian and will be the a choice of the best materials for the least amount of money. Other, more expensive, roof applications showcase elaborate artwork by a skilled roofer. Today's marketplace gives you choices that range from cedar shakes to cement shingles.

The measurement used to figure out how much it will cost to shingle your house is called a "square." A square of shingles will cover a 10'x10' area, or 100 square feet. Shingles are packaged in bundles and depending upon the weight of the particular material one square will be equal to 3, 4 or 5 bundles.

When you go shopping for roof material, keep in mind that a roof is not just the top layer of shingles, sheets of metal, or recycled materials. It consists of three different layers:

1.Plywood Decking: The first layer is made by placing plywood over the roof rafters. There are many types of plywood available, the most common being Oriented Strand Board (OSB,) "" a strong composite wood made up of compressed wood fibers.

2. Felt Paper: This layer uses paper that used to be called "tar paper." It is a barrier between the plywood decking and the shingles, so they won't stick to the decking under the heat of the sun, ruining the wood base.

3. Shingles: This is the final layer that protects your house from rain, sun and wind.

When considering what material you want to use as your final barrier, remember that your roofing structure must be strong enough to support whatever material you choose. There is a definite weight difference between materials. On the heavy end of the spectrum are clay and cement shingles. Clay weighs 600 or 700 lbs per square and the concrete weighs in at about 900 or 1000 lbs per square.

Composition Shingles: This shingle is your most common, and your least expensive product to use on your roof. A composition shingle is fiberglass or paper, impregnated with asphalt, with colored stone granules covering it. It is a lightweight product weighing between 200 to 350 lbs. per square and costs anywhere from $20 to $200 per square.

Cedar Shingles: These wooden shingles make a very beautiful roof and are quite durable, but they do need more TLC than other types of roofs. In some climates you may need to apply a roof treatment about every five years. Use a product that is marketed as a cedar roof treatment product and that is labeled appropriately.

Slate: Real slate comes mostly from Vermont, and it is very expensive. Slate weighs 500 lbs. per square and costs $500 per square.

Imitation slate: This newer material is made of a combination of sand and cement fibers. The imitation slate weighs 350 lbs. per square and costs less than $200 a square.

Flex Shake: Another new material is the reinforced rubber shake, called a Flex shake.It is made from the steel belts of discarded steel-belted radial tires. They are coated with ground slate to achieve different colors. These shingles weigh 350 lbs. per square and cost about $200 per square. One of the great things about this roofing material is the great warranty it provides "" 50 years. And it is guaranteed against hail and other weather abuse. A typical warranty for shingle material starts at 20 years.

You will need to check with your local building inspector as some areas do not permit a rubber roof.

Metal Roofing: Although not a new material, the application of metal roofing is becoming popular. Although in the past it was mostly seen covering barns, sheds and industrial buildings, today it has become a trendy alternative. Metal roofing can often be applied on top of an existing roof without removing the old roof first. It is fairly lightweight and comes in many new colors.

If you are planning to put a new roof on an existing structure, or you are in the process of building a new house you will find you have many types of material from which to choose. Be it the more traditional materials of slate or cedar, or new materials such as the Flex Shake or an imitation slate, remember to check out the weight of the material,the warranty and check the local building codes.

Roofing your house doesn't have to be from a strictly functional point of view. Pick a roofing material that adds more aesthetic beauty to your home, while keeping it warm and dry! Stroll through your local Home Depot or lumber store to get some ideas of new and old roofing materials.

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