Dear Jim: My asphalt shingle roof leaks again. I want to install a longer-lasting roof this time even if it costs more. Other than metal, what types of roofs are available and which are best for the environment? – Scott D.
Dear Scott: There are many nonmetal roofing options that have a longer life than typical shingles and are made from recycled and natural materials. Although old asphalt shingles can be used in other products, many of the 11 million tons removed from roofs each year still find their way to landfills.
When selecting the proper type of replacement roofing for your home, the weight of the roofing material is a factor. Most roofs designed to support standard asphalt shingles will not handle the weight of some of the most durable roofing materials such as tile and slate. These can weigh five to 10 times as much as thick, high-quality asphalt shingles.
To install these types of roofs, the supporting structure, rafters or trusses will have to be strengthened. This is not impossible to do, but it can be a significant expense in addition to the higher cost of the roofing materials themselves. On the positive side, you will only have this expense once because these roofs should last a lifetime.
Since you seem to be concerned about the environment, consider using roofing materials made primarily from recycled plastics. These can be formed to simulate slate, tile or cedar shakes. They are in the same weight per square (one square is 100 square feet of roof area) range as good-quality asphalt shingles so no additional roofing support will be needed.
Unless you would actually climb up on the roof and touch this plastic roofing, it is difficult to distinguish from real slate, tile or shakes. The plastic material can be nailed or sawed similarly to wood and is available in random widths for an authentic appearance when installed. These materials often carry a transferable 50-year warranty.
Fiber-cement roofing materials are another very durable option. Lightweight fiber-cement materials will not require additional roof support. These can be molded to simulate many other roofing styles. The pigments go throughout the fiber-cement material so they maintain their attractive appearance. The contoured tiles have a glossy topcoat for an authentic tile look.
Cedar shakes are another attractive roofing option that does not require additional roof support. Good-quality cedar shakes can have warranties up to 50 years. Pressure-treated pine shakes have a similar appearance to cedar and they can be treated with fire-resistant chemicals.
One of the most unique wood roofs uses bent cedar shingles. These are made from Western red cedar and are steamed and bent to create curves.
The following companies offer alternative roofing materials: Anglo-American Cedar, (800) 826-7185, www.angloamerican.com; C&H Roofing, (800) 327-8115, www.chroofing.com; EcoStar, (800) 211-7170, www.premiumroofs.com; Ludowici, (800) 917-8998, www.ludowici.com;Monierlife Tile, (800) 571-8453, www.monierlifetile.com; and Re-New Wood, (800) 420-7576, www.ecoshake.com.
Send inquiries to James Dulley, Bangor Daily News, 6906 Royalgreen Dr., Cincinnati, OH 45244 or visit www.dulley.com.