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May 23, 2018  |  Login
Choosing the Right Roofing Materials
By Eric Corey Freed
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Exterior Finishes and Trim

The job of a roof is to keep the water out, but the choice of roof can greatly alter the appearance and energy efficiency of your home. Here are some options for keeping the rain out:

Asphalt shingles: Nearly two-thirds of all roofs, both new and existing, are clad in asphalt shingles. Each year, about 11 million tons of asphalt roofing shingle waste is generated in the United States. Although recycled shingles are available, they aren’t the best choice. Their dark color absorbs heat in the summer, heating up your home.

  • Warning: If you plan on collecting the rainwater from the roof, the oil in the asphalt shingles will make the water undrinkable. Opt for another type of roofing instead.
 Recycled rubber roofing: Nearly 300 million car tires are thrown away in the United States each year — that’s nearly one per person. Dozens of companies recycle these tires into rubber shingles. These durable and resource-efficient shingles are a good choice.
  • Warning: However, like asphalt, these shingles will contaminate the rainwater as it falls on the roof.

Recycled plastic and metal shingles: The large amount of recycled plastic and metal available has prompted manufacturers to create some great roofing products. Recycled plastic shingles look surprisingly like natural slate. Lightweight and affordable, they’re a great option for your roof. Recycled metal shingles are also available, offering a reflective and attractive pattern.

  • Warning: When installing metal outside, never mix your metals. A copper roof must be installed with copper nails; a zinc roof with zinc nails.

Spray-on foam roofing: Spray-on foam roofing, such as poly-isocyanurate (or poly-iso, for short) is the perfect choice for flat roofs. Once dry, these foams provide a seamless, continuous roof surface that will never leak and that’s durable enough to walk on. The light yellow color of the foam is not very attractive, so you’ll probably only want to use it on flat roof locations that aren’t visible from ground level. But the light color does reflect heat to keep your home cool.

 Tip: No matter what type of roof you choose, select the lightest color available. A dark roof absorbs heat, adding to your cooling costs in the summer. If you live in a warm climate, this issue is even more important.

When rain falls onto a roof, it’s captured at the edges by gutters and fed into downspouts. These gutters and downspouts are unattractive and a maintenance headache. Instead consider the following:

  • Diverters: Diverters, which are installed over doors and windows, let the rain run off the edge of your roof and into the ground. A diverter is a thin ramp that directs the water to either side of the opening, preventing the rain from pouring onto your head as you exit through the door.
  • Rain chains: Instead of downspouts, a long, interlocking chain breaks up the water and acts as a wind chime when it rains. It’s an attractive alternative to downspouts. more


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