For years, asphalt shingles have been the top choice for the tops of homes, comprising as much as 80 per cent of the roofing market. But as technology progresses, tastes change and new options become available, the choices we can make for our roofs increase.
In recent years our standard asphalt shingles, have been re-named organic shingles because the petroleum-based shingles feature a layer of non-synthetic materials such as recycled newspaper and cardboard under the asphalt. Why the name change? Because fiberglass shingles hit the market.
Fiberglass shingles are also petroleum-based, but instead of that organic layer below the surface, they have a synthetic glass fibre layer. Otherwise, organic and fiberglass shingles look the same and are installed the same way. Performance, however, is different. That layer of fiberglass helps the shingles to absorb less moisture and be more heat resistant, effectively increasing their durability, making them last longer, and therefore making them the “greener” choice over those so-called organic shingles.
Other environmentally-friendly roofing options include metal roofing. While more expensive than asphalt shingles initially, metal roofs lasts longer and can actually be made from recycled metal. Available in sheets for a contemporary look or shingles that can resemble other materials, metal roofs are more wind resistant. Metal roofs include steel, aluminum or zinc alloy, which come painted, or copper, which acquires a protective green patina with age that can be very attractive. And because they can last upwards of 50 years, there is less material ending up in the landfill.
Clay tile, which has been used for years in southern climates, can be brittle and heavy, but they can last a long time and are extremely fire resistant. More costly than metal, the traditional Italian or Spanish look created by clay tile can be modified to look like slate or wood shakes, another popular roofing option.
Wood shingles and shakes, which are made from rot-resistant woods such as cedar and redwood, give a natural look that weathers to an attractive silvery grey. Extremely eco-friendly, wood shingles and shakes are not very fire resistant unless treated with a fire retardant, have a short lifespan and require periodic maintenance. Additionally, they are one of the most costly roofing options.
Ultimately, you need to choose which roofing material is best for your home based on your location, budget and needs. I do, however, recommend speaking to a reputable roofing contractor who can help guide you through the difficult decision. Remember, a roof is very noticeable, will affect the curb appeal of your home, and is one of the most important systems to keep your family, warm, dry and safe, so choosing the right roof for your home is not a decision to be taken lightly.