Roofing Materials

There are many choices in roofing materials for use in industrial construction and building refurbishing projects. This is good news, as each of the materials is particularly well-suited to specific situations. To evaluate your many options, it's essential to understand the factors that will influence your choice as well as the properties of each type of roofing material.

Environmental Factors

Before choosing a roofing material, consider the impact that the weather and the building's location will have on the finished roof. Some factors to evaluate include:

  • Will the roof get a lot of sun? The combination of heat and ultraviolet radiation can cause a roof to age more quickly.
  • Is the roof shaded by trees? Shade protects and keeps a roof cooler, but leaves and tree branches can fall on the roof; if the roof doesn't dry quickly after a rainstorm, algae and moss can grow, which will eventually weaken the roofing materials.
  • Is the area subject to strong winds? Extreme wind is unusual, but it can remove a roof; even a little wind can allow dirt or moisture underneath a roof that is poorly installed.
  • How much ice and snow do you get in winter? Ice and snow that melts and then refreezes can push up the roofing material, which may result in leakage and damage to the roof. Supplementing with foam roofing can increase water resistance.

Choosing the Best Roofing Material

After evaluating the location and environmental factors which will impact the new roof, compare the features of each of the following materials to select the best alternative:

  • Composition shingles, also known as asphalt shingles, are the most widely used roofing material. These shingles have either an organic base or a fiberglass base, and are then coated with asphalt for weather resistance. Composition shingles are easy to install.
  • Metal roofing choices include copper roofing and steel roofing; metal is an excellent material because it is durable, heat-reflective, low maintenance and nonflammable. Metal roofing is installed in sheets; copper is known for weathering to an attractive patina.
  • Fiberglass roofing, which is sometimes referred to as corrugated roofing, is a particularly good choice if you want light to filter through the roof, such as in an atrium or greenhouse. Fiberglass panels are easy to install and relatively inexpensive.
  • Wood roofing comes in two types: shingles, which are smooth and cut to a specific size, and shakes, which are rough and irregular in size. Wood is attractive and looks natural, but also requires maintenance and is not fire-resistant.
  • Tile and slate are durable and attractive roofing choices, but are heavy and require a reinforced structure to support their weight.
  • Built-up roofing consists of alternating layers of fiberglass or felt, which has been treated with asphalt. It is a popular choice for commercial roofing applications.
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