Your roof is a great opportunity to make a dramatic statement to the world. This colorful creation is going to sit atop a unique, custom home, and no matter what material you choose it’s going to look awesome. There are more choices on the market today than ever before, and an extra investment will probably make a bigger impact here than elsewhere in your home. Even asphalt shingles have taken on a new personality. Here are some varieties modern technology has made available to us (my cost estimates are very broad, and only meant for comparison’s sake).
Asphalt (or Composition) Shingles: (also known as three-tab shingles)The most commonly used shingles, these are made from a mixture of asphalt and fiberglass. The ceramic granules protect the asphalt from the sun’s UV rays. We tend to buy them according to life expectancy, which starts at 15 years for the thinnest shingles, 25-30 years for the next level. Their lifetime depends on the environment and how well the roof is vented. This roof will cost around $50-$150 per 100 square feet.
Laminated Fiberglass Shingles: Also called architectural or dimensional shingles, this shingle is still made from a mixture of asphalt and fiberglass, but is built much thicker, giving it a more three-dimensional look. Architectural shingles make the roof look more textured, are larger than a standard shingle, and come in an amazing variety of shapes. They are usually guaranteed for 40 years and could easily cost twice as much as standard asphalt shingles.
Metal Roof: Metal is one of the more sought-after roofing materials for log homes. Usually made of steel, aluminum or copper, the most commonly discussed metal roof is the standing seam – sometimes called vertical panel – roof. You can also get metal shingles that resemble cedar shakes, slate, or tile. There are several advantages to using a metal roof, not the least of which is its fire resistance. These roofs are also remarkably lightweight, and stand up to hurricane-force winds. This roof will generally cost about $100-$600 per 100 square feet (very big range of materials and composition). Life expectancy is anywhere from 30-50 years up to 100 years.
Cedar Shakes and Shingles: The difference between a Cedar Shake and a Shingle is that, generally, the shingle is sawn on both sides and the shake is hand-split on one (or both) sides. The shake tends to be thicker. Cedar looks picture-perfect when installed, and will age to a beautiful gray, given the right environmental conditions. However, it is prone to moss and mildew, and the shingles have been known to curl. To combat their inherent vulnerabilities, many brands are treated to prevent mildew, and others are treated for fire retardancy. The average life expectancy is about 25-30 years and could cost $400-500 per 100 square feet.
Concrete Tiles: You’ll find a lot of concrete roofs in Europe. Needless to say, they are incredibly durable and fire-resistant, and because concrete takes stain so well, you can find it in up to 50 colors. Of course, this is a hefty solution for a hefty home: figure out about 1000 pounds per 100 square feet. Concrete roof tiles come in several profiles, and have a life expectancy of about 80 years and can cost around $200-400 per 100 square feet. There will be extra expense for beefing up the rafter system to support the weight.
Clay Tiles: When you mention clay tiles, most of us think of the half-round shapes on Spanish Mission buildings. Think no more! Clay tiles are flat, interlocking, rectangular, slabs… and of course barrel-shaped. You can get them in solid colors or blends, textured or smooth. Figure about 1000 pounds per 100 square feet. They have a life expectancy of about 50 years, and can cost $400-$500 per 100 square feet.
Slate: Complex, durable, and beautiful, slate has a life expectancy of 60 -125 years, and more. Your standard slate is about 1/4″ thick. The slates are overlapped so that the bottom edge of the slate is actually covering two additional layers, and less than half of the slate is exposed. This standard thickness will weigh about 750 pounds per 100 square feet. Modern variations of slate roofs are: Rubber Slate (post-industrial waste) and Engineered Slate (marble dust and polyester resins). A real slate roof can cost up to $1000 per 100 square feet installed.
One of the things I’ve noticed over the years is that lighter colored asphalt shingles have a tendency to streak as rainwater washes down the roof. Even my dark green roof is streaking in one spot, although the green masks the darker stain. Before you decide on a color, do yourself a favor and drive around the neighborhood; look for other houses with similar shades. Then you can make a decision as to what’s more important: how your roof will reflect or absorb the heat, or which one looks better over the years.