A reliable roof is one of the most important aspects of your home. While you want it to compliment the overall look of the house, you also want it to be long-lasting, leak-free, and meet all fireproofing and wind protection requirements. Fortunately, there are many ways to have it both ways while still being eco-friendly.
More than 75% of roofs in the United States are built with asphalt shingles due to their low cost, resistibility, and easy installation. Unfortunately, these asphalt shingles are made from petroleum products that release pollutants during application and are usually not recyclable because of the fiberglass layer in between the asphalt. Furthermore, asphalt has a shorter lifespan compared to other roofing materials.
Wood shingles are natural and provide double the insulation value of asphalt. The downside to wood shingles is that they are expensive to purchase and install. Furthermore, the natural tendency of wood to swell and shrink can also result in cracks and moisture damage, which may decay over time.
Metal roofs have a very high insulation value and are available in copper, aluminum, and stainless steel. Furthermore, they have a high percentage of recycled content. The long-lasting durability of metals makes these roofs often last twice as long as wood or asphalt shingles. However, the downside to metal roofs is that it takes a huge amount of energy to transport and manufacture, and they are not the cheapest option. Slate is the most durable roofing material. Furthermore, as a natural material, slate is extremely durable and also recyclable. It comes in a range of colors and the variation of colors is what gives slate its unique character. Unfortunately, because slate is taken from the earth, it is a non-renewable resource.
Another option that is different from the traditional roof materials mentioned above is solar shingles. In addition to protecting your home, solar shingles also make your roof an energy source. As production costs fall and efficiency increases, these solar roofs are becoming increasingly popular in the United States. Furthermore, most PV solar roofing systems will last 20 years, and many brands come with a 5-year warranty. However, solar shingles may not be suitable for everyone. Solar shingles are more efficient in areas that receive a great deal of direct sunlight throughout the year. When choosing, you should ask yourself: How much electricity do you use on a daily basis? How many hours of direct sunlight do you get each day?
The best option for a roof that is both environmentally and pocket friendly is, well, an actual green roof! Roofing systems have been developed in which grasses and wildflowers grow on rooftops by being fixed in a lightweight soil replacement layer. While a standard roof often results in 1563 gallons of runoff after just one inch of rainfall, a green roof experiences little to no runoff. This is because the layers absorb water, which both feeds the plants and reduces the amount of pollutants that run off into rivers and lakes. This pollution has made a noticeable impact on acid rain levels. Furthermore, “green” roofs are pocket friendly because they significantly reduce the roof temperature to that of the air around it, allowing your air conditioner to work less in the summer and your heating unit to work less in the winter, resulting in quite a bit of year-round cost savings. A roof that may reach 180 degrees under normal conditions would only reach 85-90 degrees.
After deciding on the type of roof you want, one of the most important things to do is to find a reliable roofing contractor. One of the best ways to do this is through word of mouth from family, friends, or colleagues that have recently used a contractor. Furthermore, Roofery.com provides many resources for matching consumer with qualified roofing professionals. If you have decided on a special type of roofing system such as solar shingles or a green roof, it is important to find a roofing contractor with ample experience in these types of systems. The best thing to do is to compile a list of several contractors and obtain the following information:
- How long have they been in business?
- What type of insurance coverage do they carry?
- Do they hold the contracting licenses required by your state?
- Can they provide multiple references for you to call?
- Can you run a credit check?
Once you have decided on a roofing contractor, be sure to work with them closely when selecting colors and design. Although these contractors are professionals when it comes to materials and construction, it is your home and you need to be an active participant in these decisions.