Feb 14 2017

Roofing Materials Comparison Guide

If your home needs roof repairs or even a replacement, you should probably have a general idea of what materials are available so that you can have an informed discussion with your roofing contractors. Beyond considering the price and the aesthetics, there are some other factors that should influence your choice of roofing materials.

For instance, you should consider whether or not the material is suitable for the weather conditions in your area – extreme heat or cold can wreak havoc on inappropriate roofing materials. Roofing materials should also pass any fire and safety regulations, and you should consider their weight in case special framing will be required to prevent a dangerous collapse. They should have a proven track record, given that many synthetic materials have failed despite promised warranties, costing homeowners lots of money in repairs and lawsuits.

In sum, picking a tile for your roof should be a serious endeavour. The wrong choice could cost you a fortune, and eat up a significant amount of time in roof repairs. To help you make a more informed decision, here’s a quick comparison of different roofing materials popular in Canada, which include:

Be sure to use this information only as a general guide to having an informed discussion with your roofing contractors. Different regions and companies may offer different options, and some may be more or less suitable to your home than others. Local regulations will also have to be considered.

Roofing Materials Comparison

Asphalt or Composition Shingles, Laminated Shingles

Composition shingles, also known as asphalt shingles are a very reasonable choice when it comes to picking a roofing material. They are the most popular choice amongst homeowners because they are low-cost ($70 – $120 per square), come in a variety of colours and styles, are lightweight and easy to install/maintain, and most brands meet fire codes.

That said, because they are light, they are susceptible to blowing off in windy conditions. You’ll have to research each brand carefully because the quality can also vary significantly. Its lifespan is also shorter than other sturdier materials (20 – 25 years), and is not necessarily the best choice when it comes to providing insulation.

Laminated shingles are similar, but they have greater resistance to wind and fire and can last from 40 to 50 years. With a fiberglass core instead of a cellulose one, they are thicker and heavier than their composition counterparts. They will cost you about $60 to $80 a square or more.

 

Clay Tiles

Clay tiles are quite expensive compared to other roofing materials. Because they rather heavy, your home will require special framing to support them and must be installed by professional roofers. Average clay tiles will cost around $10 to $15 per square foot, however this price can go up to $20 to $30 per square foot. You’ll want to avoid these in colder areas, as they may crack if they freeze and thaw out too often… there’s a reason why these are so popular in areas like Southern France and Spain!

However, clay tiles have the advantage of being extremely durable in other conditions – they can last more than 100 years under the right conditions and are pretty much no-maintenance, as they don’t really absorb water. In fact, they are so durable that they are generally able to withstand strong winds and fire. Many European homes have clay tiles dating back to over a century ago. You can get them in white, yellow, orange and brown, with terra-cotta being the most famous of all, and they will maintain their vibrant colour more or less indefinitely. Their unique shape also provides great insulation.

 

Concrete Tiles

Concrete tiles are an alternative to clay tiles, as they can take on a similar appearance at about a 30% lower cost. They can also mimic the look of wood shakes. Like clay tiles, they can weather strong winds and fire, as well as hail. They are also able to withstand cold, which means they can be used in colder climates as well as hotter ones. Furthermore, they are one of the more durable choices in roofing materials, as they can last about 30 to 50 years under the right conditions.

However, they are also tend to absorb water at a higher rate, which means they may stain and develop mildew. Concrete tiles also have a tendency to fade over time. They are also almost double the weight of clay tiles, which means the roof’s framing must be specifically built to handle the weight, although technology is improving this issue in more recent years. Like clay tiles, these will need to be installed by a professional roofer.

 

Metal Roofing

Like clay tiles, the use of metal for roofs has a long history. While we may no longer use zinc and copper with as much fervour as we did a few centuries ago, today’s popular standing-seam steel roofing can be designed to mimic the look of Victorian metal tiles, shingles, clay tiles and wood shakes. They also offer the advantage of being light, durable, fire-safe and require little to no maintenance. Metal roofing materials are also a good choice for the environmentally-conscious homeowner; they are partially made of recycled materials, and because they can be installed over an existing roof, it reduces the amount of excess waste.

Though metal tiles will cost more than some roofing materials, you’ll get about 40 to 75 years out of metal shingles. Colour may fade out sooner. Lower quality materials may also have a tendency to dent. Metal tiles might also conduct more heat than you’d like, and they can be quite noisy.

Furthermore, metal roof repairs can be very difficult because leaks can be hard to find and fix. Another issue with leaks on metal roofs is that they appear to be intermittent, seemingly moving around the roof. Climate and weather largely determine the degree to which the metal roof will leak. At times, metal roof repair can be so difficult, some roofing contractors may recommend a full roof replacement instead of searching for individual leaks and fixing them as they appear.

 

Slate

Slate shingles are typically found in historic or older homes. You can get them in different colours, and they are quite durable. Like concrete and clay tiles, they are also low maintenance and are pretty good against fire and rot. However, they too are on the costlier and heavier end of the spectrum and will require professional installation, in addition to extra framing to support the weight.

 

Wood Shingles and Shakes

Wood shingles and shakes are an aesthetic option that are generally made from cedar, redwood and southern pine with a lifespan of around 25 to 30 years. They will cost you about $100 a square. However, you’ll have to consult local regulations before buying these, as they may be prohibited in your area given that they are flammable. You may have to specifically seek out fire-resistant products, even so. Furthermore, your roof must have at least a 4:12 slope to avoid becoming waterlogged, and they can still split and rot under persistently damp conditions. They must also be treated with preservatives and fungicides every two to five years.

 

Rubber Composite or Synthetic Slates

Rubber composite slates, also known as synthetic slates, are made of plastic and rubber. Their texture and colour may be similar to slate, but they are much more lightweight and flexible. That said, they are still quite strong. They also don’t really require maintenance beyond inspecting for damaged shingles, and some brands may be fire-resistant.

However, it may be difficult to find these, given that there are not many suppliers. You’ll also want to be very careful in choosing a reputable brand with at least 10 years or more behind them. These products may absorb water and the quality can vary wildly, which means you really have to do your research to choose the right brand with a good history. Look to spend about $300 to $400 a square, with a warranty of around 50 years.

 

Hot Mop Roofing

Hot mop roofing isn’t really a popular option amongst homeowners as it is not very pleasing to the eye, and you’ll mostly find this style in commercial settings. They require flat roofs with excellent drainage and easy access to be properly applied and maintained. Done with asphalt, hot mopping is a cheaper technique and can be fairly durable if done right. That said, you’ll have to check your local regulations and roofing contractors to see if this option is even offered and/or allowed; it can be very dangerous to the roofers, and during application, it lets off smelly fumes that contribute to urban smog.

If you have any questions about roofing materials please don't hesitate to call us at (905) 387-3000 or contact us using the contact form on our website. We'd love to hear from you!