Types of Materials

What are the differences between material types?

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are an American invention used for waterproofing a roof or wall, introduced in 1901. They grew in popularity in the 1920s, intending to eliminate the use of wood shingles on roofs. Fiberglass mat bases were introduced in 1960 to limited success. These lighter, more flexible fiberglass shingles proved to be more susceptible to wind damage, particularly at freezing temperatures. Later generations of shingles constructed using fiberglass instead of asbestos provided acceptable durability and fireproofing. Improvements made to asphalt shingles in the 1980s led to the introduction of improved quality asphalt roofing products that displayed dramatic appearances. Manufacturers named these shingles as architectural roofing shingles, also referred to as laminated or dimensional shingles. Architectural asphalt roofing shingles are among the highest-quality roofing products made.

3-Tab Shingles

3-tab shingles are a simple, flat, one-layer shingles with a uniform pattern. They are thinner, use less material, and are the least expensive and most common type of shingles. 3-tab shingles have a lower projected lifecycle and manufacturer’s warranty compared to architectural asphalt shingles. 3-tab shingles are declining in homeowner popularity in favor of the dimensional or architectural style shingles that are thicker and stronger, vary in shape and size, and offer more aesthetic appeal, plus a more extended manufacturer’s warranty.

Laminate or Dimensional Shingles

Laminate or dimensional shingles are an upgrade from a 3-tab shingle and a popular choice due to their double thickness compared to a 3-tab shingle. The design differs from the traditional 3-tab asphalt shingle look because the actual shingle tabs have various sizes and shapes. These different sizes and shapes give them a more “dimensional” look to them and can make a shingle roof look more like wood shake. Manufacturers fused a second layer onto the base shingle, which upgrades most manufacturer warranties between 30-50 years.

Architectural Shingles

Architectural shingles are an even thicker asphalt shingle that can create the appearance of natural roofing such as slate, cedar, or clay tiles. Due to their extra thickness and contouring, they cost more than traditional asphalt shingles but last longer with more extended warranties. Architectural shingles range in expected life expectancy from 30 to 50 years and are fire-resistant, wind-resistant, and prevent algae and mold growth. In some cases, these shingles have a Class 4 Impact Resistant rating, which often enables a discount to a homeowner’s insurance policy.

Modified Bitumen Roofing

Determining when a steep slope roof needs repair or replacement is often straightforward. A homeowner or qualified professional may quickly spot missing shingles, wood rot, or other signs of decay. For a flat roof, however, it is often harder to identify issues. Identification usually requires a close inspection. Once close, any damage is easy to locate. 

Modified bitumen is a more current update to built-up roofing, a traditional roofing material also known as “tar-and-gravel” roofing but made from asphalt. Modifiers are added to standard roofing asphalt, and bitumen is reinforced with fiberglass or polyester fiber matting to increase durability and strength.

The primary advantage that a modified bitumen roof has over other commercial roofing systems is its tear-resistance, based on a combination of fiberglass or polyester reinforcement layers. Bitumen is also inherently waterproof, and installation includes a base layer and cap sheet (which is available across many colors).

Synthetic Slate Roofs

Architectural shingles can imitate the look of a new slate roof without the weight issues that can impact a homeowner’s decision to select this type of roofing material. Due to the lightweight of synthetic slate shingles, owners can avoid additional roof support, which saves on costly structural reinforcements.

Synthetic Cedar Wood Shakes

Manufacturers design architectural shingles to look like cedar wood shakes, with thick shingles and random slots similar to real shakes. Synthetic wood shingles boast random colors and textures that provide a terrific accent for steep roof planes, turrets, and gables.

TPO

Thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) is a favored commercial, single-ply roofing product. This roofing material has numerous performance and installation advantages. As business and consumer demand increases for heat-reflective and energy efficient roofing systems, TPO single-ply roofing membranes provide resistance to ultraviolet, ozone and chemical exposure and are available in various thicknesses.

The TPO membrane can be attached to a cover board with a bonding adhesive or mechanically fastened. Once the TPO membrane gets rolled out, a contractor will use a hot-air gun to weld all seams together. A commercial single-ply membrane roof should last 30 years if properly installed and maintained.

TPO is typically white and can reflect UV rays and heat away from a building, which saves money from decreased energy usage to cool the building interior. By contrast, EPDM is typically black, due to its natural dark color of the membrane.

EPDM

Ethylene propylene diene terpolymer, often referred to as EPDM, is an elastomeric polymer compounded with carbon black, processing oils, and various cross-linking and stabilizing agents. As a thermoset membrane that recaptures its shape after stretching, EPDM maintains its physical properties for decades. EPDM is manufactured in large sheets and is available in various thicknesses in either black or white color. Manufacturers offer several installation options such as fully adhered, mechanically attached, or ballasted. In each scenario, the seams of the roofing system seal with liquid adhesives or specially formulated tape.

Silicone Elastomeric Roof Coating

A commercial or flat roof residential property will require a significant repair or replacement at some point in time. Repairing your roof is a great choice only if the roof is in a salvageable condition. It is essential to have your roof restored before any damages become more severe. A vital advantage of a roof coating is the much lower price than a complete replacement. A roof restoration will not only save you money but also avoid a landfill from unnecessary waste since roof coatings get installed over an existing roof system.

A roof coating will act as a protective barrier against the elements by increasing UV protection to fight against the sun’s harmful rays and helping to reduce the building’s energy costs. It limits expansion and contraction cycles that lead to premature failure of the underlying membrane in maintenance applications. A coating is also water-resistant and useful for ponding water situations.

Silicone cures faster than most other materials. Since they are moisture-cured and solids-based, silicone can be applied at virtually any temperature and often eliminate any need for primer.

Metal

Installing a metal roof can be one of the best investments a homeowner or building owner can make to increase a property’s value by delivering beauty, longevity, energy efficiency, and sustainability.

If you install a high-quality metal roof, it will likely be the last roof you will ever need for your home or business. Metal roofing requires minimal upkeep as it is resistant to cracking, shrinking, and eroding. It can also withstand extreme weather conditions, including heavy snow loads, hailstorms, and wildfires. Like all roofing options, it is your responsibility to ensure your metal roof is free from debris and to schedule an annual inspection to address any minor maintenance items that arise, such as cleaning and paint touch up.

Residential and commercial metal roofs are available in a wide variety of design styles, types, and colors.