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Choices, Choices and More Choices for Your New Roof

There are many choices for your roof. First, a roof is the cover of a building. Second, roofing is the material used for a roof. So, there’s your roof structure and then there’s roofing materials, which I will talk about today.

Over the 13 or so years I have been writing about roofs and roofing for the Hill Rag, there has been an evolution in our industry. Technology breakthroughs and innovation, as in most industries, have impacted roofing as well. Manufacturing methods and new products have been introduced to the market that impact roofing distributors, contractors and homeowners.

I will focus primarily on roofing products to consider when your low-slope roof has outlived its useful life and it’s time to consider a new roof.

New TPO roof

When I started roofing as a teenager working with my father and uncles, most of the roofs we worked on in Capitol Hill were tin roofs (also known as terne roofs, which consisted of a mixture of tin and lead). I remember long, hot summers tearing off these old roofs and replacing them with…. new tin roofs! We also worked on a lot of “slag” roofs (also known as built-up-roofs or BUR, made primarily of asphalt, felt and gravel) and rolled asphalt. That was then and this is now!

While you will still find tin and slag roofs in Capitol Hill, they would represent less than 15% or so of total roofs. New materials and roofing systems have been created for low-slope roofs that are single ply membrane and these are the “new kids on the block” generally for Capitol Hill homes.

New Choices in Single Ply Roofing
Single ply roofing (SPR) is comprised of flexible sheets of synthetic polymer that can be divided into two main groups: thermoplastics and synthetic rubber. These include TPO (thermoplastic olefin), EPDM (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer) and PVC (polyvinyl chloride). TPO and PVC are in the thermoplastic category and EPDM is synthetic rubber. Don’t worry, there won’t be a quiz later!

Regardless of the type of SPR materials selected, there are numerous universal benefits which include:

  • Resistance to UV light and natural elements such as the build-up of potentially harmful micro-organisms.
  • Highly durable, resistant to tears and punctures and provides added protection against weather conditions and extreme temperatures. These roofs should last 20 years or more.
  • Energy efficiency from reflecting more sunlight and absorbing less solar energy, keeping the home cooler in the summer. The cooling effect can save energy and money by reducing heat flow from the roof into the occupied space.
  • Cost effectiveness is provided both from the pricing of the materials and due to the durable and flexible nature of the single ply membrane which reduces the cost of repairs and maintenance over the course of the roof’s lifespan.

So, the newer SPR roofing is a great option for those reasons.

Metal Roofs
Finally, there is room in this discussion to consider metal roofs. Some homeowners do consider copper roofs for low-slope roofs and aluminum for highly sloped roofs. Each year our company is hired by numerous Capitol Hill homeowners to install copper roofs. Perhaps the highest quality roof system available, copper roofs can quite easily last for up to 100 years. Yes, copper roofs are relatively expensive, but they do increase the value of the home and can last 3-4 times longer than most other roofs. A cost-benefit analysis is in order! As customers Joe and Vicki of 8th St SE (across from Eastern Market) explained their purchase of a copper roof, “This was a long-term investment in our home consistent with our long-term outlook”.

Whatever your choice of roofing materials, we’ve got you covered!

Tom Daniel is the owner of R. Thomas Daniel Roofing, LLC and is the third generation of the Daniel family to provide roofing services to thousands of Capitol Hill homeowners for a continuous span of nearly 100 years. Tom was born in Capitol Hill and is very familiar with the unique nature of the community. He can be reached at 202-569-1080 or tom@rthomasdanielroofing.com.

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