I assume your question is about the roofing materials, so I will answer the question accordingly.
Over the past several decades, the number of options regarding what materials can be put into a roof has mushroomed. Most new products are synthetic, understandably. They’re not coming out with any new tree species, so it’s less likely that a new type of wood product on your roof will emerge. Instead, with the introduction of all manner of composites, alloys, plastics, vinyls and chemicals to treat them with, there are many, many new options. To that you can add new manufacturing equipment, including 3D printers, and automated systems of precision which means, if you can dream it, it can be made.
What are the most beneficial new developments in roofing materials?
In my opinion, the single greatest development in roofing materials is synthetic tiling. I choose that over solar panel tiles because the latter has not been out that long, and there is, therefore, an inherent risk in going that route. Very often, it takes a decade or so for an industry to iron out the kinks of fundamentally new product technology solutions. I will mention here the first Prius introduced by Toyota. It was a bit of a odd product, and a small number were sold, but it gave Toyota the experience to flush out the less than perfect product management decision, and come back to the market later with superior products. No one can argue that now, Toyota dominates the compact car gas-electric hybrid market. Another example is when vinyl window frames were first sold onto the market. The manufacturers were in trouble a few years later when the frames began to buckle under fairly normal circumstances. They had to reimburse many customers, and for others, they had to provide a new window solution at no cost. The bigger manufacturers could ride out the storm, but smaller manufacturers didn’t have the deep pockets to do that. So, consider how long the product technology is on the market before investing in them.
Synthetic roofing tiles are better than the real thing
Synthetic tiles have a number of advantages over the natural wood shakes they are replacing. First and foremost is probably fire protection. Cedar wood roofing tiles are perfect kindling for a full roof fire. When one house if on fire and the flames are reaching the sky, embers are flying everywhere. There have been cases where a house fire a mile away caused other owners to lose their house. And especially when a roof is not fully maintained, and is allowed to dry out, without treatment, year after year, it becomes more flammable with each passing year.
Tiles are manufactured to look like they have a natural variance from tile to tile, but in reality, they are functionally identical. That is, they snap together with great precision, and the roofer doesn’t have to worry about having to look out for the odd weak tile and setting it aside, because they are all manufactured perfectly. They are lighter, and far easier to work with. When the roof is finished, they look like the real thing, but were simpler to install.
Synthetic roofing tiles last longer than their ‘natural’ wood competitor, and they don’t need to be retreated with protective oil every few years. You won’t have that wonderful smell of cedar around your house that you get with natural cedar shakes, but you can always sprinkle some essential oils on your driveway if that’s important to you.
Electricity-generating, solar power cell roof tiles
There is a lot of talk lately about the possibility of installing roofing tiles that actually generate electricity and feed that back into the local grid. It allows home owners, in some cases, to completely eliminate their monthly electricity utility bill while at the same time, providing a roof over their house. However, as I said earlier, there are risks with such a solution. Because of the extra complexity – namely, a single product providing a solution to two completely different problems – you stand the risk of a problem with the product interfering now with the delivery of two different solutions. And since they are so new on the market, you might consider using them if you like to be in that wave of first consumers who become the guinea pigs who iron out the industry’s problems for them.
Still, the prospect of eliminating a thousand dollars from your electricity bills every year might well be worth the risk. Let’s say your roof replacement cost is twenty-five thousand dollars, you could potentially pay for the roof completely in savings over twenty-five years! It’s going to be a little more complicated than that, of course, but it’s hard to argue with the opportunity.
Many manufacturers, many choices
There are many roofing material manufacturers to choose from, but a few are big suppliers and have been around a long time. The best thing to do here is, talk directly with your roofing company and ask them about which are the best for your particular situation, and which do they have good experience with. Take a look at the products section on this website to see a few example of some of the more well-known manufacturers.
Consider your home owners’ association before committing to one roofing material
Most home owners’ associations have ‘rules’ about what can be installed. In some neighborhoods there are rules, for example, about specific colors that are allowed for house painting, and for roofing material types. These are often written in the covenants for that neighborhood, and they are intended to keep the neighborhood looking somewhat consistent and nice to look at. If your neighbor were to paint his house a brilliant pink, for example, it might become an eyesore for neighbors, as well as reduce the value of your house and everyone else’s house because fewer potential home buyers are likely to buy a house in that neighborhood.
Some covenants are more enforceable than others. The first house I bought, the neighbors didn’t seem to care. We painted the house twice in the time we lived there, and never consulted anyone about the colors. We also replaced the roof and did all manner of landscape adjustment in the time I live there. No one ever said anything, and I only realized later that there were actual covenants. Maybe they just gave up on us!
More next week.