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Florida Roofing Options – The List

What options do I have when reroofing my house in Florida?

Living in Florida and planning to get a new roof takes a lot of planning. Given the climatic conditions of this tropical and beautiful state, the options are galore, yet every step that you take needs a detailed analysis. Needless to say, a new roof system is a big investment, and it’s definitely not something you’d like to do again in next twelve to fifteen years. So before you decide to re-roof your house, keep the following points in mind in order to make a more educated decision. Read along

Different components of steep-slope roof systems:

Roof systems with slopes of at least 25% have the following 5 fundamental components

  1. Roof covering:

Underlayment is needed to shield the sheathing from varying weather conditions. Preferred materials are metal or slate shingles or tiles.

  1. Sheathing:

Sheathing is the board or sheet material that is fixed firmly on roof beams to wrap a building.

  1. Roof structure:

Beams and binds that hold the sheathing.

  1. Flashing:

A layer of metal or other material fitted on the various joints and valleys of a roof system to put a check on water seepage.

  1. Drainage:

It is the ability of a roof system to shed water, which depends on the layout, shape, and slope of the complete structure.

Choosing a roof system

As we mentioned earlier, there are many factors involved while deciding on a new roof system. The price and sturdiness are without a doubt most significant factors, but the architectural style and overall aesthetics are also equally important. If the roof system your house has a steep slope, you can choose from the following roofing materials:

  • Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are among the most commonly used material for steep-slope roofing in the U.S. They can be reinforced with fiberglass or organic materials. Although the combination of asphalt shingles with the latter has been popular for a long time, it’s the fiberglass reinforcement that rules the market nowadays.

  • Organic Shingles

Made from a wooden base, organic shingles are treated with asphalt to increase their durability. Finally, to further improve the strength and appearance, a coating of colored mineral granules is applied on them.

  • Fiberglass Shingles

These basically a mat of fiberglass sandwiched between layers of asphalt and coated with mineral granules.

The fire resistance of asphalt shingles is graded in three classes: Class A, B, and C. The most fire resistant shingles are given the Class A. Class B is assigned to shingles with medium resistance and the least fire-resistant shingles are assigned Class C. Normally, a majority of fiberglass shingles belong to the fire rating Class A, and organic shingles (made from wood) have a rating of Class C.

Reinforcement of a shingle hardly affects its appearance. Most of the organic and fiberglass shingles are available in various textured architectural (laminated) grades. In tropical regions like Florida, shingles are highly prone to algae attack. This problem can be prevented by coating the shingles with zinc or copper-coated ceramic granules.

The physical attributes of asphalt shingles differ extensively, irrespective of the type of their reinforcement and appearance. In case you are planning to install asphalt shingles, it would be a good advice to buy shingles that abide by the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) standards. For fiberglass shingles, the grading should be ASTM D 3462 and for organic shingles, it should be ASTM D 225.

Clay or concrete tiles are good material choices for tropical climates. In Florida, Mission and Spanish-style tiles, which are often round topped, are the most widely used kind. To get a French or British outlook, flat tiles made from same material are used. You can find concrete or clay tiles in many colors and finishes. An important to consider here is the weight of the tiles. Since tiles are heavier than shingles, you should check the strength of the structure before replacing the older roof system of another material with tiles.

Metal was earlier considered mainly as a low-slope roofing material. However, many homeowners nowadays have started using metal as their preferred material for steep-slope roofs. Metal roofing comes in two types: panels and shingles. Metal roofing material comes in many shapes and configurations. Metal shingles are mainly produced to replicate traditional tiles, shingles, and wood shake roof coverings. Metal shingles offer better durability and have a higher resistance against harsh weather while being lighter in weight. You can easily find metal shingles with Class A fire ratings.

Synthetic roofing material is principally a replica of traditional wooden and slate shingles. However, their physical properties and composition differ a lot from their natural counterparts.

Before you make a decision on buying a particular roofing material, we suggest you look at the manufacturer’s brochures and a full-size sample of the material you want to go for. Furthermore, it would be a good idea to visit a building with a roofing system made from same material.

Ventilation and Insulation

Ventilation is one of the most important factors that determine the longevity of a roofing system. Without proper ventilation, the attic area becomes prone to heat and moisture build-up. This is what causes rotting in rafters and sheathing and the sheathing crumples, which deteriorates the efficacy of insulation of the roofing system.

Therefore, it becomes very important to make sure you never block the ventilation sources, such as soffit vents, ridge vents or louvers, even in winters. Proper ventilation in the attic area put a check to structural damage due to moisture, which further improves the comfort level in rooms below the attic region, and also improves energy consumption and durability of the roofing material.

A soffit is a ventilated structure that is quite similar to a ceiling. It is located under the overhang of a roof. In a non-livable attic, soffits are used to maintain a free flow of moisture and warm air. A good soffit keeps the temperature of an attic almost 30 percent lower as compared to a non-ventilated attic. This also cuts your utility bills as your air conditioning needs to work less.

Proper insulation is very important to maintain appropriate ventilation in the attic. A good attic has the following properties:

  • A systematic layout of insulation without any gaps in the attic area that protects the house below from temperature issues.
  • A vapor retarder between the insulation and the ceiling to prevent moisture from reaching the attic.
  • Enough ventilation to allow a free airflow.
  • Depending on the region in which your house is located, proper ventilation may have different requirements. Weather conditions also make a huge impact. However, the average ratio of free vent area and attic floor is about 1:150. Which means you must have 1 square foot of ventilated are for every 150 square foot of attic floor.

Enemies of a Roofing System

There are many factors that affect a roof system’s performance. Let’s take a look at these factors:

  • Sun:

Infrared and ultraviolet rays cause gradual deterioration of roofing materials. The western and southern sides of roofs deteriorate faster in comparison to the other two directions.

  • Rain:

When water seeps beneath the roofing materials, it can reach the roof deck and cause rotting in the roof structure. Excessive dampness can cause rot and mildew in other regions of a house, and may cause severe damage if it reaches electrical systems.

  • Wind:

High winds can lift shingles, tiles and other roofing materials from their edges, creating enough room to force debris and water in the exposed area. Extremely high winds can cause heavy damage to a roofing system, to an extent they can’t be repaired, but only replaced.

  • Florida Weather:

Florida roofs have to deal with an exceptionally unforgiving climate. It’s true that this region doesn’t have to bear the cruel blows of massive snowfalls or the cycles of frozen and molten snow as that of northern roofs, and this sunshine state also hosts hail storm very rarely. But that doesn’t change the fact that Florida roofs have to face a blazing sun, recurrent tropical monsoons and cloudbursts, hurricanes, intense humidity, intermittent freezing blasts, birds, bugs, and salt air. No wonder Florida houses need a re-roofing done so frequently.

  • Condensation:

The warm and moist air of Florida can easily build up condensation in a poorly ventilated attic. This will further lead to rotting of wood sheathing and rafters, which will gradually destroy the entire roof structure. You can achieve adequate ventilation in the attic area by setting up additional vents. Doing so will keep the attic temperatures almost similar to the outside temperature, which will curb the tendency of moisture build-up, thus improving the life of a roofing system.

  • Moss and algae:

Damp wood shingles and shakes are vulnerable to moss growth. Once moss grows in a region, it becomes a never ending circle as it will attract and hold more moisture, causing more rot. This rot will further accelerate moss growth the whole process will keep going on like this. What makes the matters worse is the fact that moss roots can further grow and reach into the wooden structure, making the whole system weak.

Just like moss, algae also grow in humid, dark areas of asphalt or wood shingle roofing systems. Algae not only create slimy black-green stains, it also retains moisture and leads the roofing system to the same fate as in the case of moss. To prevent moss and algae growth, maintain good drainage by keeping the gutters clean.

  • Trees and leaves:

When strong winds blow, tree branches close to the roof will graze and gash roofing materials. Shingles and other roofing materials can also get damaged to a high extent by branches falling from overhanging trees. Leaves that get accumulated on the surface of the roof system cause damage due to moisture retention, and leaves clogged in the gutters hinder proper drainage.

  • Missing or torn shingles:

Complete protection of a roof system depends on how thoroughly the shingles are laid out. Missing or torn out shingles weaken the roofing system’s defense, making the complete structure and even the house interiors prone to water damage and rot. The problem of missing or torn out shingles also affects the strength of nearby shingles, as they also get prone to get damaged or blown away by strong winds. Any missing or damaged shingle must be replaced at the earliest.

  • Shingle deterioration:

Old and worn out shingles get split, curled and are not able to provide efficient waterproofing. Damaged and worn out shingles are easily torn, lifted and blown off strong gusts of wind. It results in rotting of the whole roofing structure and also damages the house. An old and worn out roof system will only worsen with time and must be replaced before the damage rises to an irreparable extent.

  • Flashing deterioration:

A vast number of roof leaks are in fact flashing leaks. Good quality and tightly installed flashings around wall/roof junctions, chimneys, skylights, and vents keep water from seeping into your home, and protect insulation, ceilings, walls, and electrical system against water damage. Worn out flashings will weaken your roof system’s efficacy to keep water out. Make it a habit to check the flashings on a biannual basis, or every time you clean the gutter.

The cost of re-roofing depends on various factors including roof pitch, the level of underlayment repairs needed, size and number of roofs, and location of the home. Factors like the slope of the roof, the material you choose also add to the costs.

Purchasing a new roof system is indeed a very important investment. Before you take your wallet out to make the payment, we further advise you to look for a roofing contractor that assists you in getting a good quality roof system at a reasonable cost. We are sure the points we explained above will definitely help you a lot while you decide that kind of roofing system you want to go for.


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