Your roof is the single most important investment you will ever make to protect your home. So it stands to reason that you would want to use the best residential roofing materials you can get. But what makes one type of residential roofing material a better choice than another?
As any experienced residential roofing contractor will tell you, climate and weather are your first considerations. Roofing materials run the gambit when it comes to the different options available and, while many are top-rated for durability and lifespan, they are not equally suited to different climate conditions. With more than forty years of experience installing, repairing, and replacing residential roofs, we’ve come to understand what types of roofing materials perform best in the Pacific Northwest. We break them down for you here.
Asphalt Composition Roof
Asphalt composition shingles are found on 80% of homes in the US and are the most common residential roofing material used in both new roof construction and roof replacements. Their popularity stems from the fact that modern asphalt composition shingles are durable, holding up well in a wide range of weather conditions and climate extremes, with an average lifespan of 17-30 years depending on the grade of materials and if the roof was properly installed. Asphalt composition shingles also come in a variety of colors and styles and are often the most economical option, making this type of roof a popular choice for both new residential roof installation and residential roof replacement.
Our Top Asphalt Composition Recommendation: Malarkey SBS Modified Asphalt Shingles. These shingles incorporate a relatively newer technology that rubberizes the shingle’s asphalt, resulting in a better hold on to their UV protective granule, creating less opportunity for the shingle to crack. When well maintained, the average lifespan is 22 to 35 years.
One of the fastest-growing segments of residential roofing is metal residential roof replacement. And it’s no wonder. Metal roofs hold up extremely well to the elements and can last 35 or 45 years. Metal roofs are also available in a wide range of colors and profiles, can help you lower your energy costs, and are non-combustible with a Class A Fire Rating. Don’t be surprised that this roof system is about 3X more cost than a standard composition roof system.
Our Top Metal Roof Recommendation: Standing Seam Metal Roof from Standard Taylor Metal These metal roofing products have a color coating system that is ENERGY STAR® listed and many are also certified by the Cool Roof Rating Council. The cool rating certification signifies that a metal roof will help lower a home’s solar heat load, equating to lower energy expenditures for cooling during the summer months.
Cedar Shake Roof
Cedar shakes have been used in residential roofing for hundreds of years and are almost synonymous with the traditional Pacific Northwest roof. Although the cost of a cedar shake roof is much higher than other residential roofing materials, there are a number of benefits that make this one of our top choices for residential roofing here in Oregon. The natural Northwest aesthetic is very appealing and cedar shakes are more durable than traditional asphalt offering 5 to 10 more years of roof life when properly installed and maintained. The main deterrent to using cedar shake for most homeowners facing a roof replacement is the cost, as cedar shake tends to be 5 times more expensive than asphalt composite shingles and 3 times more expensive than standing seam metal. Then add in maintenance costs over its life.
Concrete Tile Roof
Roofing tiles have been traditionally made from fired clay (terracotta), and while very beautiful, roofing tiles of this type tend to be expensive and are prone to cracking in extreme weather conditions. Concrete tile on the other hand is better able to withstand extreme weather conditions and is roughly 20% less expensive than its clay or slate counterparts. Concrete roofing tiles are often made from molded, tinted concrete and can come in many styles and shapes—curved, flat, fluted, or interlocking–giving homeowners a broad selection.
While concrete tile roofs are well suited to our climate, there are other considerations when it comes to roof replacement. Even modern lightweight concrete tile is still heavier than the traditional composition or shake roof and the weight must be taken into account. If you are considering replacing your roof with concrete tile, you will want to start by having the structure of your home certified by a structural engineer for the weight it can bear.
Synthetic Plastic Shake, Slate, and Tile
Modern residential roofing materials continue to expand with newer synthetic products available that mimic the look of slate, shake, and tile but are much lighter in weight, averaging just 4 lbs per square foot. Modern synthetic roofing products are also durable with longer lifespans than some traditional residential roofing products. Synthetic shake, for example, looks the same as cedar shake but lasts 2-3 times longer. Opting for synthetic roofing materials can also add up to significant savings. For example, synthetic slate, besides being a much lighter product than traditional slate tiles is 2 to 3 times less expensive.
Low Slope and Flat Roofs
It might seem counter-intuitive to consider a flat or even low-sloped roof here in the rainy Pacific Northwest. Modern residential roofing products and expert installation, however, make these types of roofs a viable option. So much so, that we devoted an entire blog to this topic. If you have a low-sloped roof or a flat roof, check out our blog on The Best Flat Roofs for the Pacific Northwest.
Choosing the Right Roof for Your Home
When it comes to residential roofing—whether new construction and new roof installation or roof replacement—today’s homeowners have more options than ever before. Selecting the right roofing materials for your home will come down to these key considerations: the climate where you live, the structure and style of your home, your personal tastes, and your budget.
We’ve outlined our top recommendations for residential roofing materials that are best suited to our climate. Our final recommendation is to work with a qualified and experienced residential roofing contractor who can give you an honest and reliable assessment of the condition of your current roof, who can provide necessary roof maintenance and repairs to prolong the life of your roof, and who can guide you through the selection process when it comes time to replace your roof.
At Pacific West Roofing we have been performing residential roof inspections, maintaining roofs, and installing new and replacement roofs in the greater Portland Metro area for more than 40 years. If you have questions about your roof or you already know you need a new roof, contact us today.