Shingle Materials: The Good, the Bad, and the Boral

Roofs come in many shapes and sizes, just like the houses they protect. Today we’re going to look at a few systems that are available for all modern steep slope roof homes. There are some types, like slate and Spanish clay tile, which we will not be discussing due to the weight of these systems and the fact that they can’t be installed on all structures, unless the roof was designed to bear the extra weight.

We’ll start with shingle systems, which have improved greatly in the last 20 years. The asphalt shingle roofing industry faced severe problems at the beginning of the 21 st century. Thousands of businesses went into bankruptcy due to class action lawsuits brought against them, alleging poor shingle quality and retention.

In response, shingle roofing companies began using fiberglass mesh in the shingle cores and higher-quality asphalt, including protective compounds to better withstand ultraviolet degradation. Today, shingles hold up better under accelerated aging simulations. These simulations determine that the shingles are able to last at least 25 years.

There are several notable benefits to asphalt shingles. They cost significantly less than a metal roofing system, which can be especially attractive for rental property owners and home sellers. Asphalt shingles come in a variety of colors and look brand new for 5-10 years.

However, for many homeowners the drawbacks of asphalt shingles outweigh the benefits. Many manufacturing reps will tell you that the shingles made using the new materials and methods will last for about 25 years, though the warranty says that they’re good for a lifetime. Around the 10-year mark, shingles will begin to detach during high winds, and trying to repair the shingles after they have been on the roof for 10 years is next to impossible because other shingles get damaged during repairs. Because shingles dry out in the sun, if you manipulate them to switch out other shingles, they will start to crease and fracture. That means those handsome asphalt shingle roofs might only last some homeowners 10 years.

In that context, the return on investment on asphalt shingle roofs is terrible, especially for a homeowner that is planning to live there for a long time. The cost of re-roofing a shingle roof every 5-10 years means that you end up paying more than you would for a metal roof.

If a homeowner is worried about how the roof will look after 5 years, they should be worried about putting an asphalt shingle roof on their home. If there is any shading on the roof from trees or high walls, the roof will start to get dark streaking on those areas. After 10 years, it will spread to other areas, even if they are constantly exposed to the sun. Though this doesn’t happen to every roof, we often notice that because the asphalt in shingles is of inconsistent quality, some roofs experience dark streaking sooner than others, even though they were made by the same manufacturer.

Having discussed the pros and cons of shingle roofs, let’s look at metal roofs. Copper roofing product has lots of benefits, starting with appearance. When applied, it has the gleam of a new penny, and as it weathers, it takes on the cool green worn by the Statue of Liberty. The main problem with copper is that when you are putting together a copper roof system, there is a lot of solder used on penetrations and flashing points. Though the copper will not fail, the solder usually will within a few years. These small leaks might be hard to catch in the beginning, but can cause lots of damage. Also, because copper is softer than steel, there will be a higher chance that it gets damaged when hail or branches strike the roof. In addition, copper is a very reactive metal and may corrode if it comes in contact with other minerals or metals. We have seen a copper roof erode because it was connected to a slope roof system made of slate. Slate contains naturally-occurring iron, which leached out of the slate and damaged the copper.

Aluminum roofing products also have many benefits, starting with their resistance to weathering or corrosion when in the elements, even in an untreated form. They come in an impressive array of products that look and feel like real slate. A downside of aluminum is how soft it is. Whenever there is hail or small branches that hit the roof, we have often seen aluminum shingles permanently deformed, sometimes even penetrated. In an interlocking shingle system, it is difficult or impossible to change just one tile, so large portions of the roof must be replaced. Another factor to consider when installing an aluminum roofing product is that aluminum is very reactive to other metals and minerals. Care should be taken in choosing the fasteners used in an aluminum system and any other fasteners that may contact the aluminum product, like underlayment fasteners.

Steel roofing shingles have their share of pros and cons. When considering a steel roof, the first thing we think of is rust. When we discovered the Boral steel roofing shingles, we were skeptical, but ended up being pleasantly surprised. Those of us in the roofing industry have seen the steel roofs (even standing seam metal, considered the best metal roofing system for many years) with a distressing level of rust. No one wants rust depreciating their property and eventually causing leaks.

For decades, people have installed standing seam metal roofs for their long life expectancy. Unfortunately, issues arose which led to the formation of maintenance programs so that coatings would be applied to seam metal roof systems to protect them from rust and leaks caused by ice dams.

Because the metal is just a bare sheet of painted steel, it can be damaged by hail as small as 2 inches in diameter. When a hail storm comes, it will not destroy the metal, but it will leave indentations all over the roof. Although this may not cause mechanical damage, it will depreciate the property due to the look of a pitted, scarred roof. Fortunately, the roofing industry found a solution to this problem.

Concerning rust, instead of using regular steel with paint on it, Boral Steel made a product called Galvalume Steel. Galvalume is the result of a process in which steel is coated with a zinc and aluminum treatment. Before this process was introduced, most steel was galvanized. Galvanizing only treats the steel with zinc, but adding aluminum to the process took results to a new level. After decades of being out in the elements, the product still looked new. Boral Steel decided to go a step further, adding another layer of acrylic and ceramic-coated stones to the top of the steel and baking it at over 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. This gives the metal a sacrificial layer of ceramic that resists the elements and preserves the material’s integrity. Industry experts claim that this product has a life expectancy of about 100 years. This new product has had a revolutionary effect on the entire roofing industry and is now installed worldwide.

Regarding the hail this kind of shingle can withstand, we were impressed. We see that because of the ceramic stone coating on the shingles, there is a greater resistance to hail, minimizing damage to the roof. Even if there are tiny divots on the roof from larger hail, this is not noticeable because of the ceramic stone coating. As a result, a property that goes through a hail storm will not be depreciated.

Though the product is a definite improvement, there are downsides to it, one being the higher initial cost of a Boral Steel stone-coated metal roof. But when you consider the return on investment if you are planning to stay in the house for more than 20 years, you will save a significant amount of money. However, even if you are considering selling your home in the near future, the Boral Steel will only increase property value with its fully transferable lifetime warranty. The warranty is attached to the home’s address, so the new homeowners don’t have to worry about transferring the warranty. They get the peace of mind that comes with purchasing a home with a roof guaranteed to last. If you plan on selling the house sooner, the investment you put into it will come back because of the higher value of your property. The only other negative is that the range of colors available for metal roofing is about half the size of what is available for asphalt shingles.

These are a few points to think about when looking for a new roofing system that will best serve your needs. If you are considering a new roof, call Roofing Buffalo NY at (585) 727-8619, and one of our specialists will meet with you, discuss your options, and help you choose the perfect roofing system that will protect and beautify your home.