Thursday, September 1, 2011

From asphalt to Enviroshake, here are the main options to choose from when looking for a new roof

If it’s raining while your reading this and you keep looking up at the ceiling expecting to start seeing water drip down on your face, that is usually a good sign that you need a new roof.
These days there are a lot more options for your roof then just asphalt shingles. Here is a list of some of the products available to you:
-          The traditional asphalt shingle has not changed much, sure they are using different materials in them like fibreglass backing, but the actually shingle has not changed much. It is still basically an oil based product. Asphalt shingles are becoming increasingly less reliable. It has gotten to the point were a lot of shingle companies will not even honour there warranty if and when the shingles fail. The average asphalt shingle will be lucky to last 15 to 20 years these days. Because of the changing weather, acid rain and heavy UV light, asphalt shingles curl and fall apart. It has gotten to the point that roofing companies are now installing waterproof products like “Grace ice and water shield” that are installed under the asphalt shingles directly on the plywood sheeting of the roof. This is so that when the asphalt shingles fail you have protection from water penetration into the inside of your house until you can get shingles repaired or replaced. High winds are also hard on asphalt shingle roofs, after a couple of years asphalt shingles stick together so in high winds not just one shingle comes off. The high winds lift and rip the whole large sections of shingles off the roof. Usually when this happens the whole roof needs to be re-shingled. The reason that asphalt shingles are the most widely used roofing product out there today is simply because they are the cheapest. In other words YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR!

-          Steel roofing materials have been around for a long time. They have been traditionally used on agricultural buildings and commercial buildings. But with new products and almost an unlimited number of colours to choose from steel roofing has become extremely popular on residential houses. Steel roofing usually comes with a life time warranty not just on the steel but also on the colour. So gone are the days when you have to call a roof painter every 10 to 15 years to repaint your steel roof. Steel roofs are ideal for places that have high winds and extreme weather conditions. Steel roofs when properly installed can be rated to withstand hurricane level wind and rain. With today’s installation methods and insulation you do not here the rain on a steel roof like you used too. If you have a lot of trees with low hanging branches steel roofs are great because it is strong enough to withstand large branches scrapping against and even falling on it. Dirt, leaves, pine needles, branches and anything else that collects on a house roof will not rust or corrode a steel roof. In heavy snow country steel roofs outperform most of its competitors. When snow builds up enough it slides off the roof onto the ground. This is a good thing and a bad thing. A good thing because it doesn’t allow snow to gather, melt and allow water to backup and create a leak. The down side is that if you want to have rain gutters they might get ripped off the house when the snow slides. Also you have to be careful that you do not end up with large snow loads building up above your main entrance door. This can injure people if they slam the door and the snow comes down on their head. Not all roof pitches and configurations lend themselves to have steel installed on their roofs. Depending on the style of the house, steel might not look appropriate. Steel roofing is more expensive then asphalt shingles but it will be the last roof you ever install on your home.

-          A classic product that has been used for generations is cedar shake shingles. They are what they sound like; they are made of cedar and cut into a varying array of widths. Usually there are 3 or 4 different widths that are installed randomly in straight horizontal lines on the roof. After less than a year cedar shingles fade from there light brown colour to a silver colour. Cedar shingles are a wonderful classic look on a house and can give a house a real cosy cottage feel. Cedar shingles used to be the thing to install on your roof for long life. They used to last up to 50 years on house roofs. Not anymore, in today’s weather, UV and acid rain cedar shakes usually don’t make it to 30 years. Also all cedar shingles are cut from new growth tree’s not old growth trees. The belief is that this is a big contributor to why cedar does not last as long.  With dormers and fancy roof lines dirt and leaves can build up and rot the cedar shakes creating leaks. Cedar is prone to mold, mildew and insects. Cedar shake is labour intensive to install; it requires that you put a layer of felt paper between every row of shakes that you install. The product is also expensive to buy. Cedar shake shingles are more expensive then steel and asphalt shingles as a roof system.

  • Enviroshake is a product that is new to the roofing world. It has only been around for about 20 years. Enviroshake is made from recycled materials, such as recycled tires, waste plastics and waste products associated with making ethanol from corn and wheat. Enviroshake is manufactured with a grain stamped into its face that looks like cedar shakes and comes in different sizes just cedar shakes. They are also installed like cedar shakes; the only difference is that you have to cut them with a power saw instead of hand knives or hatchets. Enviroshake has a lifetime warranty and is said to last 50 years when installed properly. Enviroshake comes black but fades to silver in 6 months and looks just like cedar shakes. Enviroshake will with stand winds up to 110 mph and water pressure infiltration resistance in wind velocity tests of 105 mph.  Enviroshake is actually rated to withstand a level 1 hurricane. Enviroshake is an extremely slippery product like steel, snow does not sit on it for very long. You have to take the same precautions that you do with steel roofs related to gutters and snow slides. With the world moving toward sustainable products that are easier on the environment and your conscience, Enviroshake is the roofing system that will be that one more and more people turn too. Enviroshake is more expensive then asphalt and steel roofs, it is even more expensive then cedar shakes.
There are many other different kinds of roofing available, but these are the most popular in Canada and the northern United States on residential houses.
So whatever roofing system that you choose, remember that there are a lot of different products out there to choose from, the best way to choose a roof system is with a qualified contractor that can give you proper quotes and install the roof with the appropriate warranty.
If you are looking for a new roof or you need help picking a new roof feel free to email us at

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.


  1. It's great that options for roofing materials have increased over time to meet consumer demand. Now that we have recycled yet durable types of roof along with tried and tested kinds, installing them with the help of roofers makes the job more interesting.

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  2. What's more interesting about roofers is that they can share valuable tips that can help you maintain your roofing even better. Case in point: these recycling methods. Maybe I should try some of these on our old house.

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  8. Should Enviroshake shingles lift up from the roof at the bottom?

    1. No they should not, they are extremely thick and ridgid, it would take hurricane force winds to lift them especially at the bottom.

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