Residential Roofing

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Getting Familiar with Materials and Terms Used by Residential Roofers & Contractors

When it comes to having a roof over your head, you want to have a solid one. When there are questions or issues with the roof on your home, you need to have a qualified residential roofing contractor in your corner.  We are here to provide you with some general roofing information to help you get a good understanding of the industry and to help you form the most appropriate questions for your needs when you deal with a local Tucson roofing service expert. 

Whether you want to design the home of your dreams with a brand new home construction, retrofitting a fixer-upper or just need to understand what’s involved with your existing roof that may be leaking, the subject can quickly get confusing for someone who isn’t familiar with all the variables.  Domestic roof construction of roofs on residential homes can vary a lot, from the pitch to the materials used and how they are put together. Talking to a professional roofer about what you want and need for your particular home or business is an excellent idea. Before you do, you may first want to look at and become familiar with some of the different materials found on home roofs.

Common Types of Residential Roofing Materials Used in Arizona

  • Ceramic or Concrete Tiles
  • Different Roofing Shingles including Asphalt Shingles, Wood Shingles or other Composite Shingles to Mimic the Look of Cedar, Slate or other natural materials.
  • Flat Roof using Bitumen, Built-Up or PVC materials (among others)
  • Metal Roofing (because DC Roofing doesn't currently work with metal roof buildings, we won't be going over that option here).

Roof Tiles - Ceramic or Concrete

Benefits of Tile Roofing

The look of a tile roof is very appealing appearance to many people. Reminiscent of Mediterranean style homes, as far as roofing products go, they are very long lasting and stand up to the elements such as heat and salt water air, making them very popular along coastlines such as California and Florida as well as in the hot, dry areas of the Southwest, Another benefit for areas that get heavy rains in short bursts is their ability to drain a lot of water quickly, due to their shape.

The durability of tiles is another very attractive quality.  Some manufacturers say you can expect tiles to last 50, 75 or even 100 years - time frames that are otherwise never talked about in the roofing industry.  While the original tiles were typically made from a fired clay or terracotta, today many tiled roofs use concrete that has been tinted and molded into a variety of different shapes.  

Looking for more good reasons to go with tile? Well, they are impervious to insects, rot and are non-flammable and don't require much of anything in the way of maintenance.  That doesn’t mean you can’t still have some roofing problems due to underlying wood and other roofing materials, but for a great looking outer layer, tile is pretty hard to beat. 

Something else to keep in mind with regard to tile roofs is that while the tiles themselves do perform a critical function of draining water quickly, they are not the real reason a roof will be water tight.  They really act as the cosmetic overlay to the true waterproofing, which is the underlayment beneath the tiles.  If water is starting to enter your home, it is this underlayment that will need to be replaced.  

That being said, there are some downsides that you need to consider before committing to a tile roof. 

Downsides of a Tile Roof

As far as roofing products go, tile roofing can be considerably more expensive than other material options. Compared to an asphalt roof, you may end up paying 2 or three times as much. Something to consider with these higher costs though are the long life that roof tiles offer, as outlined above. 

Another difficulty regarding tiles is that they are heavy and therefore can be more difficult (and expensive) to install.  Consider that the weight per square, (a square is industry term for 100 square feet of area), for tile can be around 850 to 950 pounds for clay vs concrete material respectively.  For the same surface area, and asphalt roof will weigh in the neighborhood of 225 to 325 pounds. 

As you can imagine, you can’t simply swap out your asphalt shingle tiles for concrete tiles because they look good.  Making such a drastic change in your building would require consulting an engineer, which would definitely add to the entire cost of the roof.

Also, as mentioned, roofing with tile is more difficult.  It takes an experienced, professional roofer to know how to properly lay the tiles to make sure there are no gaps that could allow moisture to get through and to make sure water drains properly.  On top of that, while these tiles are durable, they are also brittle.  That means if they’re not properly handled or carelessly walked on, they could easily break.  Again, more expenses adding up.  

A tile roof is not any kind of weekend DIY project for a bunch of buddies!

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingle roofing is the most commonly used residential roofing material in the United States, and for good reason.  It’s affordable, easy to work with so virtually any roofer knows how to work with it.  Plus, it’s easy enough for many homeowners to do DIY repairs and maintenance on it, and it has good durability.  

Asphalt tiles, made from a fiberglass base and mineral and asphalt granules, usually have a 20 to 30 year warranty because the material is so good at flexing and contracting as the weather changes. As long as it’s properly installed and isn’t subjected to any unusual situations or conditions, there’s no reason an asphalt shingle roof won’t easily last 10 to 25 years or more.  

Beyond just the functionality, another nice benefit is the fact that you can get asphalt shingles in a variety of different colors to match or create the look you want for your home.  

While you may default to thinking of the black/grey asphalt shingle, they also come in a variety of shades of grey, brown and red.  Some people mix in a variety of light and dark tones to create an aged, vintage look to their roofs.  

With consumers becoming more environmentally aware, roofing material manufacturers have rolled out new, more green and energy efficient options, including in the realm of asphalt shingles.  The new “cool roof” shingles are designed to absorb less heat from the sun, thereby transferring less of it into your home, reducing how hard your air conditioner has to work during those hot months. 

When you consider the lower costs per square foot, plus all the other benefits that go along with it, it’s easy to see why asphalt tiles are such a popular option for home roofs. 

Composite Roof Shingles

In Tucson and other parts of southern Arizona, some traditional roof materials that people may have been familiar with in other parts of the country (or world), aren't so applicable here.  For example, cedar wood shingles or slate.

For people who long for a specific look and the unique corresponding colors that come with those kinds of materials, the good news is that today's composite material shingles can have you covered. 

CertainTeed offers a luxury line of composites under the brand name Symphony. Made of polypropylene and calcium carbonate, CertainTeed’s well-regarded product is a ‘dead ringer’ for slate. Arguably, the lightweight and fade-resistant Symphony shingles improve upon the genuine article. Aside from being cheaper to buy and less costly to install, they are backed by a 50-year warranty and boast Energy Star certification.

DaVinci Roofscapes, LLC, offers perhaps the most comprehensive line of composite shake and slate-type products. Polymer-based, with top impact and fire ratings and a strong warranty, Davinci shingles come in multiple widths and colors, enabling homeowners to create blends with realistic textures and shade variations.

Flat Roofing Materials

In Arizona, there are a lot of homes with flat roofs, from ranch style homes built years ago to more modern, southwester style homes.  With a flat roof, your options don’t include the materials mentioned above, but there are still options to consider.

Modern flat roofs use innovative materials that can provide better insulation than many people might think, and make them more energy efficient and cooler than older, traditional pitched roofs. EPDM roofing for example, (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) is very highly energy efficient. In studies at Oak Ridge National Laboratories it was found that temperatures can be reduced by 30 to 40 percent with EPDM. With such such significantly lower heat transfer into the home, this can be a smart choice for homeowners in warmer areas looking to reduce the demands on their air conditioners.

Built-Up Roof (BUR)

Built-up roofing, also referred to as BUR, is one of the most common types of roofing systems you’ll find on low slope roofs and is the business that keeps a lot of local Tucson roofers in business. It is made up of alternating layers of ‘built up’ reinforced fabric and asphalt or bitumen.  Typically the top most layer is some kind of aggregate such as stone or small gravel.  One of the reasons this is a preferred material for flat or low-slope rooftops is because it creates a continuous seal, as opposed to other materials such as shingles or tiles that are independent pieces.  This is important because water will not drain off a flat roof as quickly as a more pitched roof, so having good waterproofing is critical. 

Built up roofing tends to do better and be more popular in hot climates like we have here in Arizona.  The average lifespan of a built-up roof is usually 15 to 30 years, but they can last even longer if properly maintained.  

Membrane Roofing

Another option for flat roofs is membrane roofing - a material that used to be used much more in commercial roofing than for the residential customer, but is starting to be used more and more in residential roofing, and for good reason.

Compared to BUR roofing, a membrane roof makes it easier to create a complete, waterproof seal on the roof, providing years of hassle free experience.  This is because it can be difficult to create really good binding between seams of BUR material.  The newer materials used in membrane roofing allow for either a seamless installation, or else the seams are actually just as strong as the body, thereby eliminating most issues regarding leaks developing.  

Furthermore, these membrane materials attach directly to the roof.  The asphalt in BUR roofing actually just rests on top of the roof, and is not actually attached to it.  The gravel or aggregate added to it is in part necessary to weight down the bitumen, as well as to protect it from UV rays from the sun, which tend to deteriorate asphalt.  None of this is necessary with a membrane roof.  

  • There are a number of different materials used for membrane residential roofing systems, including:
  • Neoprene (polychloroprene)
  • EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer)
  • PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
  • Chlorinated polyethylene and chlorosulfonated polyethylene sheets
  • Polymer-modified bitumens

Probably the best and most popular choice of these is EPDM, which is a synthetic material. While it is long lasting and can give you a largely trouble free roof, it should be noted that if any kind of repair does need to be done, you must use the proper materials.  EPDM is not compatible at all with any kind of asphalt based coating.  So make sure whoever is working on your membrane roof is well aware, informed and prepared to work with the materials at hand.

PVC (polyvinyl chloride) roofing is another popular roofing membrane material choice because it’s known for its durability and affordability. Since it can be prefabricated for your specific roof, it means less scrap and waste at the job site. 

Another added benefit is that PVC is fire resistant. It is also solar heat reflective, helping to reduce the heat transmission of the sun into your home, creating less work for your air conditioner when it’s hot out and reducing your energy bill. 

You can expect a membrane roof to last you between 20 to 35 years.  You can read more about different membranes roofing options throughout our website

Basic Residential Roofing Components

Transcript

hi everyone in this video we're going to be talking about basic roof components the idea of this video is for you to learn what elements are needed and have a visual understanding of each element that gets used by a roofing company first we're going to be talking about the asphalt roof shingles itself it is the most common roofing product available it is the most cost efficient also comes in different profiles and also for different weather conditions let's say that your house is in a very high wind area there's shingles for that just specifically for wind problematic areas also if your area is susceptible to hail storms there there's also a shingle that is hail resistant so they're also easier to locate leaks and deficiencies they last roughly between 20 and 25 years just depending on the type of roof ventilation where the house is located and and stuff like that also the cost is a third of a cedar or rubbery or rubber roofing system also they come in a lot of colors so it can blend pretty good to any color scheme of a home now the insurance starters and rich caps these are complimentary parts of a properly installed roofing system starters serve as the first course of shingle helps the first shingle not blow off by the wind you see the image on the right hand side that is the starter and you see those little thar lines those help the first shingle adhere properly and that way it doesn't blow off the ridge caps serve as a finish type on the top of the slopes for a smooth transition it looks good and keeps the water out there's also high profile Ridge caps which make the house have a little bit more depth in the roofing system you will be able to see the the lines of the hips and the ridges pretty pretty easily and it's just for looks oh it does look better too a little bit more expensive then we have the underlay the underlay is one of the key components of a properly install roofing shingle it is a secondary protective layer of a the underlay we always use underlay a synthetic underlay because it has the following benefits it is 12 times stronger as a traditional petroleum-based underlay it is inert to mold growth it does not absorb water or wrinkle it is you we protect resistant and it is slip resistant so you know before they used to use petroleum-based ones which they would absorb water they would tear easy easier than the traditional that then the monolithic ones that are typically used so if somebody is going to do your roof just make sure this is an aesthetic underlay and that they do install the underlay not everybody does it and it's just a good review practice next is the the roof fence there's two fundamental benefits of a effect of an effective roofing ventilation system the first one is a cooler attic in the summer which will help the shingles last longer just because they don't overheat and the other fundamental benefit is a dry attic in winter this helps avoid at a condensation if you don't know what attic condensation is we created in another video talking about this common issue that we have here in Calgary just due to our Chinooks freeze files and and stuff like that but basically at a condensation is moisture gathering in your attic space when it's super cold outside and it's warm in your house Moisture collection your attic it freezes and then if you don't have proper ventilation proper insulation that that moisture will start to melt during saw cycles and it will appear that you have roof leaks and they'll appear on the ceiling around the the washroom fans and stuff like that so yeah these two benefits of having the cooler attic and the dry attic both result in energy savings greater home greater homeowner comfort and higher integrity of the house now we're going to be talking about the pipe jack the pipe jack is a preformed flange that is placed around the plumbing stack so that black PVC that you see on the image is actually part of the plumbing system and it's meant to be open that way and the pipe jack is just a flashing that helps the pipe transition from the inside of the house to the exterior and you know they can't they come like that just pre-made they come to size there's different sizes and that basically they all come in in plastic for shingles and stuff so next we have the goose neck the goose neck is a is basically a venting another roof vent that is used to transition from the from the flex pipes that go from a washroom fan or a kitchen fan or another could be from a dryer it also helps for attic venting so basically you know you tie in the Flex pipes from those fans into on the bottom of the roof deck and this is where they come it comes out and they have two presentations one in metal and the other one in plastic and that's their basic function now the metal Valley well the valley on a roof is one of the most vulnerable areas of your roofing system if it's not properly protected a valley can channel water directly into your house causing interior damage installing a sheet metal as in the image will help add extra protection to this critical area of your roofing search and we'll ensure that you know you have no issues in the valley also it helps the shingles not deteriorate in this area since the water collects from the two slopes into that valley the shingles tend to deteriorate faster in that area and it's also a critical part of your roof so you've got to make sure that you are extra protected in that in that area now the drip edge the drip edge I've seen in the image is um it's a metal strip that goes just below the on the roof line just below the shingles and it helps it it helps the water get into the gutter easier it also helps prevent the the roof deck just under the shingle to deteriorate or to curl over time because it does get wet if you don't have that drip edge installed finally we have the ice and water protection the ice and water protection is the self adhesive resilient non-woven glass fiber mat which serves to waterproof under the shingles preventing water penetration due to ice dams and driven wind driven rain rights it also is used to protect critical areas such as skylights chimneys and valleys so this is a pretty sticky product and it is and also it's used if you have a very low pitched roof so it's the slope of the roof is very minimum we recommend installing it on the whole house that way if you have any ice damming or any any anything like that you make sure that that your whole roof is protected and also it's recommended by the manufacturer to install it on the entire roof to get that warranty that they provide. Many people researching a new roof ask about whether they should be concerned about choosing a hot roof, a warm roof, or a cold roof and what the differences are. The different types of roof are created simply by applying the layers of the roof in a different order. Namely the insulation layers. In a cold roof, the insulation is applied between the rafters, but in a warm roof, the insulation is applied on top of the existing roof surface. The term “hot roof” is something of a misnomer, as the attic space will only be a few degrees warmer than in a traditional roof. a Hot Roof is a system most likely to be found in newly built homes.