In the Pacific Northwest, we get a lot of rain. Plenty of rain also means an abundance of moisture. And sometimes we get the occasional wind storm. While there’s no singular material that is perfect for a specific home or roof style, there are ones that are better choices than others. And it ultimately comes down to the homeowner’s preference in look, feel, and cost.
Your home is your own, so when you’re choosing a roofing material, you want to make sure it fits your needs. We’ll take an in-depth look at the most popular roofing materials for homes—which material does better in which environment, their longevity, and their pros and cons.
If you drive around any neighborhood in Seattle, Bellevue, Tacoma or Olympia, there’s a good chance you’ll see this roofing material on the majority of homes. They’re an affordable option that are typically warrantied from five to 20 years, and they come in a variety of colors to complement your home.
So how do asphalt shingles fare in the Pacific Northwest? They hold their own against the different weather, from showers, sun, or sleet. But the caveat is that they’re porous, which means asphalt shingles are prone to mold. This shouldn’t deter you away from choosing this roofing material. One of the greatest benefits is that asphalt shingles are so popular that finding the material you need to make repairs or maintain them is pretty easy.
But besides being porous, what are the other cons for asphalt shingles? Their lifetime value is more expensive because they require more frequent repairs compared to their metal, rubber, or composition counterparts. Also, asphalt roofing is not biodegradable. Any time an asphalt roof is removed, the material goes directly to the landfill. And unlike any other roofing materials, no part of an asphalt roof is recyclable.
Composition Shingles and Shakes
Composition shingles and shakes are gaining traction in popularity. Similar to asphalt shingles, these shingles and shakes come in a wide variety of colors to suit your home. But unlike asphalt shingles, composition shingles and shakes come in a variety of faux finishes such as slate and tiles, so not only do you get a rainbow of choices, but you also get a whole variety of looks to choose from.
Although composition shingles and shakes are most expensive per square foot, they’re actually a cost-effective option since they don’t need to be repaired or replaced as frequently as asphalt shingles. And their warranties usually go from 30 to 50 years—almost double that of asphalt shingles!
When it comes to environment, composition roofs are wonderful for the moist Pacific Northwest. This roofing material features inhibitors to ensure your roof is free of algae and moss.
Wood Shingles and Shakes
In the Pacific Northwest, cedar is a common roofing material, thanks to the abundant supply. Using wood as a roofing material can enhance your curb appeal and increase your property value, but it sure is high maintenance. The nature of wood roofs is their susceptibility to moss and mold, plus they need to be cleaned frequently to allow the wood to breathe.
If the wood has been treated then they can have a Class A fire rating (the most resistant), but if left untreated, their fire rating drops down to a Class C. Their durability also isn’t much to boast about either. They only last five to 10 years longer than asphalt shingles.
When you consider how wet our PNW winters are, wood shingle are generally a poor choice. Anyone looking for durability and longevity will want to steer clear of this roofing material.
So far we’ve mentioned the most popular roofing materials. Now we’ll talk about a newer material that’s shaking up the roofing industry. Rubber shingles and shakes are one of the most eco-friendly options since they’re made from recycled tires. To be exact, one single home would save landfills 250 to 1,000 rubber tires.
Rubber shingles offer a similar look to the luxurious wood shingles, but without the high-maintenance hassle—rubber shingles are virtually maintenance-free. This material is also less likely to suffer from issues experienced among common roofing materials such as bends, cracks, rots, and moisture retention. Rubber roofs are designed to withstand harsh or extreme weather, which includes endless rain.
With all of these great benefits, there have to be great cons, right? Not really. Rubber roofs come in at a higher price point, so that could be considered a con if you’re looking for something cheap. But this material can last 75 years or longer. So the combination of being maintenance-free and outstanding longevity, rubber roofs, over time, are a very cost-effective option for those who enjoy roofing repairs and replacements.
Seattle is synonymous with rain. Well, the Pacific Northwest is for that matter. Metal roofs are extremely resistant to water and can withstand the randomized weather we get in the area–from week-long showers to wind storms. Depending on the material, metal roofs can last anywhere between 50 years (aluminum or steel) and up to an astonishing 100 years (copper and zinc).
Metal roofs, like rubber roofs, are basically maintenance-free. So not only is this material fire-resistant and energy-efficient, its lifetime value is through the roof, thanks to its low-maintenance nature. When you consider how many old cathedral roofs in Europe are made of metal, and how long they’ve been around, you’ll quickly realize how resilient metal roofs really are.
Additionally, metal roofs are a truly eco-friendly solution. 50% of all materials used in metal roofs are recyclable, so you can be rest assured that when it comes time to replace your roof, the materials can be reused. Plus, they are solar panel-ready. Whether you want to install solar panels today or think you may in the future, installing a metal roof means you’ll be ready to get solar panels when you want.
All the benefits of this roofing material does come at a price. Metal roofs are more expensive than asphalt, composition, and wood, but their longevity offsets the upfront cost. And there’s the noise factor. When rain hits metal roofs, it can get a little noisy unless you have an attic that acts as a sound buffer.
So when choosing a material for your home, think about what your biggest deciding factor is. Is it cost? Is it look? Maybe it’s longevity. Or perhaps you’re looking for an eco-friendly option. Whatever your factors are, remember that there is no roofing material is the be-all and end-all for your home. It all comes down to what you’re looking for in a roof. Your home is your own. So make it your own by choosing a roofing material that suits your needs.
Need a little help picking the best roofing material for your home? Navigating these choices and picking the right roof for your home can be tough. Be sure to hire a roofing company that has expertise with not just installing roofs but guiding customers in the Pacific Northwest through this very important roof-material selection process. If your roofing company offers lifetime warranties on their roofs (and we do!), you know you’re working with a company that really knows their roofs.
We’re here to help. Give us a call at (360) 794-7164 or fill out our contact form for further inquiries or to request a free estimate in Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Bellevue, Snohomish, Sammamish, or any surrounding areas.