Roofing Construction And Materials Around The World: Adapted For How And Where People Live

If you're thinking about replacing your roof or building a new home and starting from scratch, it's interesting to take a look around the globe at all the roofing choices out there. Here's an exploration of some of the world's more popular roofing materials, and a few suggestions for how you can channel that information for your roofing selection.

Cold Weather and Precipitation in the Western World

Throughout most of northern Europe, Canada, and the United States, asphalt shingles on peaked roofs have become the norm. These roofs repel rain, keep snow from accumulating, are the most cost effective, and are relatively easy to install.

While most older homes probably started out with wooden shingle or other less durable roofs, many have been converted to asphalt today. Other modern additions include vents to allow attic heat to escape (vital to preventing ice damming), and gutters and downspouts to conduct rain water away from the house.

Life in the Tropics

Materials and the need for ventilation have driven roof choices in tropical climates for centuries. While tile and metal roofs are sometimes seen, roofing made out of plant materials is still quite popular, due to the widespread availability of tropical plants and economic factors in home construction. Thatched roofs made out of palm fronds or similar vegetation provide shade and allow heat to escape.

Thatched roofs have become more sophisticated in some new tropical construction. Now, a waterproof membrane can be added underneath to better keep out rain while still permitting good ventilation.

The Sun-Soaked Mediterranean

Terra cotta tiles have been used around the Mediterranean since the days of ancient Rome. Meaning "baked earth" in Italian, terra cotta keeps homes cool during the heat of the day by soaking up the sun. When the temperature drops in the evening, terra cotta roof tiles can radiate that heat back into the home and keep rising heat from escaping.

When the Spanish settled the New World in the 15th Century, they brought terra cotta roofing with them, hence its popularity throughout Latin America, Florida, and Southern California today. Known for its attractiveness, terra cotta has the added benefit of being fire resistant--an important feature in many locations where it makes up roofing material.

Extremes Down Under

A popular roofing material in Australia, New Zealand, and the rest of Oceania is metal, steel being used most often. Metal roofs are lightweight, yet durable. They can withstand the rigors of weather Down Under, including cyclones, and they are also fire resistant.

Today's Focus on Green Living

The current roofing market has seen an increase in demand for sustainable materials. Photovoltaic cell solar shingles are becoming popular, as they are both environmentally and financially advantageous. Other new materials include recycled rubber and plastic, and lightweight fiber cement that looks just like slate.

In choosing a roofing material, here are some considerations all homeowners should address:

  • What is your budget?
  • Do you need to deal with prolific snowfall?
  • Does your roof need to withstand heavy rain storms, hail, or hurricanes?
  • Are you living in a location with a lot of fires?
  • Do you live in a hot location and desire your home to stay cooler?
  • Are you trying to save money on your heating bills?
  • Are you concerned about the environmental effect of roofing materials?

A consultation with a roofing expert can help answer your questions and raise issues you might not have thought about, such as doing chimney repairs simultaneously. With all the roofing choices available today, homeowners no longer need to use the same type of roofing they currently have. Whether you want to improve your home's aesthetics, increase its safety, or boost your bottom line, you will find many options. Contact a company like A-Plus Roofing & Masonry Ltd for more information.


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