About 15 years ago, we at Vintage decided that we would not do asphalt roofing. At the time, I made the decision based on the lack of quality and longevity. In the past few years, I have become more opposed to using asphalt, and don’t understand why it is so prevalent here in the US. Here are some thoughts:
Roofs in Yorkshire: slate and clay
A. At the most, if you buy the most expensive asphalt version, it is a 50 year roof. Normally, the roofs that you see are considered 25 or 30 year roofs.
B. It is a petroleum product, with gravel. Asphalt is a by-product of petroleum distillation.
C. In our area, whenever there are high winds, asphalt roofs get damaged, and sections blow off. The nailing pattern is critical, and it is not always done correctly. The material is subject to wind getting under it, and getting pulled off.
D. When I did an English architectural tour to see my former boss from Universal Forest Products, we toured around Yorkshire for a better part of a week, and the only roofing that I saw was metal, stone, slate, and tile. I didn’t see one roof that was asphalt. When I asked him why, as he had lived in the US, he stated that it was because it doesn’t last long enough. I think that is the key — construction in Europe is thought of as more permanent, and more consideration is given to the next generation. (I also didn’t see any vinyl siding, but that is another issue.)
E. When I visited Thailand and China in the last few years, it was the same. In China, the major roofing material was fired clay. They were beautiful roofs, and very long lasting. Here in Virginia, we just repaired a clay tile roof that is 90 years old. It is sound, and I would say it may have another 90 years to go.
Roof: clay tiles
I think one of the reasons that I love working on old houses is the perception that they will be here for generations. Roofing is only one aspect, but such an important one. We are working to start doing more clay tile roofs in our area of Virginia.
I did a study some time ago about the annualized costs of different roofing, and asphalt was more expensive than slate. Because these more expensive roofs last 100 years plus, their annual costs are quite low. I know it takes more up front, but I imagine the ideal world…
Roof: concrete tiles and copper
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