Roof Shingles

Most of us do not think about our roof shingles…until we see a brown water spot indicating a leak on the ceiling! Then we realize just how important our roof shingles are!

As well as keeping the house dry, the roof contributes to the look of the house, so when building a new house, adding on, or re-roofing, it may pay to consider the options. Right now there are more options in the marketplace than ever, so choosing one is tough.

The choices range from asphalt shingles to wood shakes and clay tiles, from steel panels to rubber look-alike slate. The most important trend to note, however, is that as with home-construction materials in general, there is an increasing move towards engineered roofing materials.

Roof Shingles

This change is being driven by a few different factors. One is simply the high cost of wood. The second is that in many cases, codes now mandate the use of fireproof construction materials. And third, people understandably want to build with materials that not only look good but also are very long-lived.

The roofing material we all see the most of these days — the one that covers the roofs of a great majority of houses across America — is the standard three-tab asphalt shingle. One of the least-expensive roofing options, asphalt shingles are available in a dozen or so different colors both solid and blended.

The shingle roofing products being made today are usually guaranteed for 20, and sometimes 30 years, making them an excellent value. Value is the principal advantage of this roofing material, which explains it’s popularity.

The next upgrade from a standard three-tab is a thicker variation called an architectural shingle. These shingles are built up to be about twice as thick as a normal shingle with the layers staggered to give them a heavier, more substantial or "architectural" look. In some colors they resemble slate, and in other colors wood shakes.

For looks, it is hard to beat a wood shingle roof. Over time it weathers out to a gray or soft silver that seems to root the house to the landscape. Several species are used: Western Red Cedar, Alaskan Yellow Cedar and Eastern White Cedar.

Shingles are relatively smooth and cut to a uniform thickness, although they vary in width. Wood shakes are thicker and rougher, being split rather than sawn from the logs.

Wood roofs are meant to breathe and should be laid over a substrate that allows air to circulate behind them: skip sheathing — wood strips or battens nailed directly to the roof rafters — is the traditional method of installing a wood shingle roof. Another method of getting air circulation behind the shingles is to lay them on pressure-treated lattice.

For all their great looks, shingles and shakes are expensive to install and do require some periodic maintenance, typically in the form of washing to remove any mildew or moss, and then re-oiling with a clear wood finishing product.

 

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