What’s so important about the quality of a roof? Let’s take a bit closer look at what it is we really want a roof to do. First off we want it to be sturdy, we want to make sure that it doesn’t come crashing down on our heads. We want it to be long lasting; we don’t want to replace it on any type of regular basis. We want it to keep out the weather, and elements. Some roofs are inherently designed to let the sun in at certain times and keep it out others. Regardless of what a roof is designed to do, it maintains the purpose of protecting the rest of the entire structure, regardless whether it is a residential home, or a large commercial structure. So it goes almost without saying, the roof of a structure is key in any building design. A roof is a buildings most important structural aspect. Without a good roof, one that functions in a manner compliant to the over all building design and functionality, everything in that structure would be left at the mercy of the fury of nature. To have a grand and beautiful building will eventually lead to unwanted circumstances without a properly constructed and maintained roof.
We construct buildings and homes to keep us and “things” safe from the elements. Imagine the Smithsonian museum with out a roof of any kind. How long would the historical objects contained within last? How long would it take the wind and rain and sun to obliterate those things heralded as national treasures? That might be a bit dramatic, but it does get the point across. We construct sound sturdy roofs to protect us and our things. It has been going on since man first built free standing structures, before the time of Christ. Even back then, the importance of quality roofing materials was well appreciated. Granted the choices were very limited two thousand years ago, but even then they drew on the best knowledge available as well as the best materials to construct the sturdiest and longest lasting roofs possible. Many of those early roof builders must have been doing something right, because many of the roof building practices used back then are still being used today. Including but not limited to Stone, slate, baked clay tile, wood shingles. Today the choices for roofing materials is vast indeed, making the task of choosing the best for a particular type of application even more difficult.
Today’s choices for roofing include a vast variety of materials that include such things as composite materials, plastics, steel or metal, asphalt and yes those mentioned above as well. Stone, Clay tile, slate and wood shingles are still popular materials used in modern roofing.
The roofing mistakes usually made are one of two. The number one mistake made in roof construction is not properly anticipating climatic conditions of the region of construction, or using materials that are insufficient for those conditions. The number two mistake is cutting back on or holding down the cost of roofing to increase some interior aspect of a structure.(this usually happens during general building constructions, and not as a rule during replacement or maintenance). The old adage of “Pay me now or pay me later” defiantly holds true in the types of roofing choices made
Choosing the proper roof really has two aspects, existing or non-existing. Let me explain. If a building is pre-existing, and the roof was constructed of asphalt shingles from its original design, it probably wouldn’t be feasible to opt for slate or clay tile as replacement materials. Why? Because more then likely the frame material of the roof structure was not designed to handle the additional weight of these types of materials, so using such material could be dangerous. Their added weight might cause the roof structure to collapse. Generally asphalt shingles give good protection except under extreme climate conditions.
The second aspect of choosing the proper roofing material is generally considered to be for new construction. In new construction, the choices involved in roofing materials play a key roll in over all project design. Let’s say in someone’s aesthetic design choices, Mediterranean terracotta style shingles seem to be just what is needed. They require little maintenance, last virtually for ever, look great and add just the right touch to the Spanish exterior design of a new home. But the catch here is that new home is being built in northern Minnesota, where it snows … a lot. Now a big decision needs to be made. Having those clay tiles on the roof sure will look pretty, but will add a pretty penny to the cost of construction as well, not just because clay tile shingles are more expensive to purchase and install. It’s because the designed structure will need to be reinforced to handle the extra weight of the tiles as well as snow load for that part of the country. It might be now that those terracotta tile shingles just lost some of their shine. So cost becomes an issue in having the best material.
But with the advent of modern materials there are other options available. There are companies producing composite and metal look alike shingles. Most of these new composite and metal roofing materials are light weight, durable and cost effective. So in new construction, you could have the best of both worlds. Low initial cost, as well as great looking, and functional roofing material.