Saturday, April 21, 2012

The changing of roofing materials in today's modern custom homes

Modern Day Construction for custom homes Part 6

In today’s modern world of construction things are changing year to year faster than they did decade to decade in any other previous time period. In this multi part series I will traverse through an entire house starting with the foundation and working my way up to the roof and then to the finishing’s. I will explain what has changed in the last twenty years in custom home building.

One thing that you should be able to take away from this is how important it is to not just hire the right general contractor to build your custom home but how important it is to hire one that is up on today’s building methods.

Here are some changes that have come along in the last 20 years alone;

Roofing materials

Twenty years ago, roofing materials were mostly asphalt shingles. Other less popular materials were cedar shingles and steel roofs.
Today’s roofing material have gone through some changes, but not as many as you would think in 20 years. The staple of most houses built toady is still asphalt shingles. With ever changing weather conditions today’s shingles are lasting shorter and shorter amounts of time. Asphalt shingles (either from the weather or from poor manufacturing) are not lasting as long as they did 20 years ago. This is pushing more and more people to more expensive alternatives to get longer life for their roof. Here are some of the new products people are using and some of the materials that have been around for a long time but have been advanced;

Enviroshake. This is a roofing material that has been manufactured from recycled materials and plant extract waste material from ethanol manufacturing plants. They are formed to look like cedar shakes, right down to the wood grain that is stamped in them. It is installed the same way that cedar shakes are installed but have a 50 year warranty. They go on black and fade in 6 months to a silver finish that makes them look like a cedar shake. Cedar shakes do not have the longevity that they used too. Enviroshakes are slowly becoming closer to the same price as what it costs to have a cedar shake roof, but they are still more expensive at this time.

Steel roofs. Steel roofs do not look like a barn roof anymore. There are so many different looks to steel roofs now days that with a little research you should be able to find the style and colour that fits you and your new home. With standing seem steel roofs becoming ever more popular you can now have steel roofs without the look of industrial or agricultural roofs. Steel roofs now come in a wide variety of colours and the paint has a life time warranty. A steel roof should last your home a lifetime. Steel also has the ability to withstand high winds and impact from debris and low hanging tree branches. UV doesn’t seem to have a negative effect on the steel or the finished paint.

More and more custom homes are covering the roof completely in Ice and Water shield. This is a peel and stick membrane that gives your roof a watertight seal even after the roofing material fails. Twenty years ago they did one row as the norm and it was installed at the eves. Ice and Water shield works by coating the nails or screws that penetrate it with a waterproof coating creating a perfect watertight seal.

Houses are now having a vent strip installed across the peak, they are then shingled over. This replaces the standard 3 or 4 roof vents. It gives the roof a clean look and adds more square footage of venting to help the roof breath.

Starter strip and valley flashings used to be painted steel or straight galvanized steel. Today they are aluminum. This allows an easier installation because the aluminum is lighter and doesn’t rust like steel. You can now get aluminum starter and valleys in a variety of colours to help match the roof colour.

Typical asphalt shingles are slowly being replaced by shingles that are made with fibreglass backing. This is supposed to allow the shingle to stand up to higher winds. Because shingles are failing quicker in the harsher weather, shingle companies have come out with a premium option for asphalt shingles. These premium shingles are 2 or 3 times thicker than the typical shingle and they also cost a fair bit more. Theses shingles have longer warranties and seem to be able to stand up longer to harsh weather then the cheaper conventional single ply shingles.

Look for part 7 coming soon...

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.


  1. This is a good read, Rob. Indeed, more and more homeowners are trying to get more bang for their buck, looking for more expensive roofs, but with a longer lifespan, and easier maintenance. With these hard times, people are trying to cut down on costs, like roof maintenance and repair. Though important, it’s just too expensive; this forces people to turn to do-it-yourself projects, and this mostly ends up with a bigger hole in the roof. Recent advancements in technology and experience have helped the roofing industry improve on their materials and services, as well as their roof maintenance tips. As a result, homeowners are more knowledgeable about what materials they want, which contractors to hire, and how to maintain their roof.

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  2. Great blog! I really like the content of the blog the idea you share is more useful for me.

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  3. The HDC will likely require replacement in-kind to create the original look, although there may be some leeway with respect to the material itself. After all, it’s all about keeping up appearances.
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  4. I had a very pleasent time reading this post on roofing materials. You have pointed down all the minute details. Thanks