The roof of your home takes abuse from sun, rain, wind and snow. A typical roof is repaired or replaced every 10 to 20 years, but some roofing materials are more durable than others. When you need to replace a roof, you want the ideal combination of low cost, low maintenance, fire resistance, durability and insulation. Composite roofing materials do an excellent job of filling these requirements. Also called "composition roofing," these products are manufactured from a combination of materials, such as asphalt, fiberglass, plastic and recycled rubber.
Cost and efficiency
Due to the number of types, grades and styles of composite roofing materials on the market, it is difficult to give a precise cost for a replacement roof. For a 2000-square-foot, single-story home, ballpark estimates range from about $3,000 for simple asphalt shingles to $12,000 or more for high-quality, composite shakes or slate.
When choosing materials, consider aesthetics, longevity, thermal performance and potential increase in resale value. Better quality materials cost more initially, but can save money in the long run, particularly in the area of reduced energy consumption for heating and cooling.
Many composite roofing materials are rated as "green" building materials, which means they qualify for Energy Star certification and tax rebate programs. They perform well for insulation and reflectivity, which reduces heating and cooling costs. Many of the newer composites are made from up to 80 percent recycled materials.
Brands, styles, durability and fire resistance
Composite roofing materials range from simple shingles to imitation slate, tile and shakes, which are virtually indistinguishable from the real thing. Because they are manufactured, you can select from countless colors and textures. A few of the most popular composite roofing manufacturers include names like Carlisle Syntec, CertainTeed, DaVinci, Ecostar, EnviroShake, GAF, Inspire, Malarky, Tamko, Titan and Trimline.
Composite roofing materials vary in terms of durability and fire resistance. The manufacturer's warranty is a good indicator of the product's durability. Many high-end composite products are guaranteed for 50 years. Underwriters Laboratories tests roofing materials and issues fire resistance ratings. If you live in an area with high fire danger, purchase roofing materials rated Class A. Class B materials are suitable for moderate fire danger, while Class C material should be used only in areas where fire danger is remote.
How to get started
Begin your research by filling out the form on this page, which will help you locate licensed roofing material manufacturers and installation contractors in your area. Visit local roofing material suppliers, or ask neighbors about roofs that you like.
When getting estimates from a contractor, make sure all roof replacement costs are covered, including removal and disposal of the old roof, if necessary. In some cases, the new roof can be installed over the existing roof.
Review specifications to make sure those products genuinely suit your needs. Once you have decided on a product, get bids from at least three local contractors with experience in installing that product. Make sure the contractors you select are licensed, insured and reputable.