A composite roof is made with synthetic shingles that are designed to look like a cedar shake or slate roof.
This makes composite roofs a popular, cost-effective solution if you want a beautiful roof that looks luxurious but doesn’t blow your budget.
How long does a composite roof last?
Although other shingles will last about 15 to 20 years on average, a composite roof can last for between 30 to 50 years.
That said, the lifespan of your composite roof will depend on what type you’ve chosen to install. There are important things to know about this roofing material that’s growing in popularity.
With this in mind, read on to learn if a composite roof is a good choice for your home, as compared to popular asphalt shingles or other roofing materials.
What Is A Composite Roof Made Of?
A composite roof can be made out of a variety of materials, such as rubber, plastic, polyester, and fiberglass. The materials are layered and then attached together with laminates or resin.
The use of various materials in their design is why composite roofs can be manufactured to resemble other types of roofs, such as ones made of shake, stone, or tile.
Composite shingles are made with a woven fiberglass layer that’s placed between two layers of asphalt, which is waterproof. The final layer is ceramic or stone granules that are attached to the exposed surface. The combination of these materials helps to make composite shingles strong and able to tolerate moisture, as well as hot and cold temperatures.
Since many types of composite roof shingles contain plastic and rubber, they also have polymers to increase their strength and inhibitors to balance out the effects of UV radiation. This is what makes them last such a long time.
Types Of Composite Roofs
There are many types of composite roofs and they contain different materials. Let’s explore some of the most common ones.
These shingles come in a strip that has notches cut out of it. They’re considered to be the standard composition shingle and they’re the most cost-effective while also being the lightest. Their drawback is that they’re less durable than other composite roof types.
These shingles have a fiberglass base that gets reinforced with asphalt, synthetic resin, and is then topped with granules. Thanks to the combination of the asphalt and resin, these shingles are waterproof.
The granules help to protect the shingles from UV damage. They also contain pigment to give your roof extra beauty in the form of color. Some manufacturers add additives to the shingles to make them resistant to fungus and algae.
These are sometimes called architectural or laminate shingles. They are durable, attractive, and have double the thickness of 3-tab shingles. They have irregular layers that produce random shadow lines and they come in a wide variety of styles to mimic wood, slate, and tile.
These shingles are bigger and thicker than other types of shingles. They are built to look like slate. These can be double the price of dimensional shingles, though, which is their drawback.
Composite Roof: What Are The Pros And Cons?
A composite roof has many benefits to offer homeowners, but it also has a few potential drawbacks you should know about. Let’s explore them in greater detail.
A composite roof is good for the planet. It’s made with recycled materials, namely plastic and rubber.
It looks realistic. Composite slate shingles are made out of real slate and they also have chisel marks on them to give them a realistic look.
Since they’re made out of plastic and rubber, composite shingles are not only durable but also lighter than traditional roof tiles. This makes them easier to work with.
Composite shingles are resistant to fire and moisture, and some companies offer shingles that are resistant to mold growth. So, they come in a variety of styles to suit your roofing needs.
These roof shingles are usually made with UV protection, so they won’t fade as quickly as asphalt shingles. This keeps them looking as good as new for a longer period of time.
Composite roof shingles are resistant to high winds. They can tolerate wind speeds of up between 110 and 190 mph, whereas asphalt shingles require specific protective installation requirements to make them tolerant to winds of up to 130mph.
While they are cheaper to purchase than slate, composite shingles are more expensive than asphalt. You’ll have to ensure you can budget their upfront costs.
Some roofers don’t have experience working with composite shingles, which can make their installation tricky.
Asphalt Shingles Vs Composite Roof: What Are The Differences?
Asphalt shingles are a popular type of roofing because of how they’re cost-effective and durable.
However, since composite roofing can be designed to mimic the appearance of many other types of roofing materials, such as slate, cedar shake, or tiles, they are considered to be more versatile.
While both composite and asphalt contain elements to inhibit algae growth, composite shingles are sometimes built with a coating that decreases fading from sun exposure.
Composite shingles are made out of recycled materials, which is good for the environment. Meanwhile, asphalt that contains fiberglass backing isn’t as eco-friendly as shingles with paper backing are less harmful to the planet.
Slate Vs Composite Roof: What Are The Differences?
Slate is beautiful, but not always a viable option for your roofing needs. This is because slate is heavy and expensive. Whereas traditional slate can split and warp, this is not something you have to worry about with composite roofing.
Composite slate has the benefit of being resistant to algae and mold, so it’s a valuable roofing material to consider if you live in a coastal region.
How Long Does Composite Roofing Last?
One of the biggest questions you’ll have is how long composite roofing can last before needing to be replaced.
Since this type of roof is durable, it usually comes with a warranty of between 30 and 50 years, but its lifespan will depend a bit on the type of composite shingles you choose.
For example, dimension shingles can last for between 20 to 30 years before they start to deteriorate. By comparison, 3-tab shingles can last for between 10 and 20 years, so they’re not as durable as dimension shingles. As for fiberglass shingles, they can last for between 25 to 50 years!
When it comes to choosing the most durable type of roofing material, it’s worth noting that composite material can last for longer than asphalt shingles, which have a lifespan of around 20 or 30 years.
As for slate, a natural slate shingle can last for 75 years or more, so it is more durable than a composite shingle. Therefore, when choosing what roof material to install, it’s worth considering cost versus durability.
How Much Do Composite Roofs Cost?
Composite shingles can cost approximately $500 to $1,500 per square, which is more than what you’ll pay for asphalt. But, you will save money by choosing composite shingles instead of real slate – slate costs around $900 to $2,000 per square.
When it comes to cedar shakes that are thicker than red cedar shingles, you can expect to pay around $600 to $1,400 per square, so you’ll probably also save more money by choosing composite materials instead, especially because they can mimic cedar shake.
What’s Tricky About Composite Shingle Roof Installation?
Earlier, we mentioned that one of the potential drawbacks of composite roofs is that there aren’t many roofers who can install them.
Although composite roof installation isn’t necessarily difficult or requires specific skills, it does have different nailing instructions than what you’ll follow when installing other types of roofs, such as asphalt shingles. For example, some products insist that the composite shingles have to be nailed along the top and side of the shingles.
When installing them, composite roofs need to be placed from the roof deck all the way up, but they have the same underlayment as asphalt roofs. Usually, metal drip edges are installed along the rake and eaves of the roof.
That said, it’s important to know that installing a composite roof can be made easier if you decide to reroof with it instead of tearing off your current roof before installing it. So, if your roof has shingles on it, you can place composition shingles directly on top of them.
This not only saves you money on installation costs because removing roofing materials can cost between $2 to more than $100 per square foot, but a layer of composite roofing on top of your existing roof can be easier to DIY install. If you have DIY roofing experience, you might be able to do it yourself instead of calling the professionals.
How To Maintain A Composite Roof
Now that you know a bit more about composite roof installation and how much this type of roof costs, you might wonder if you need to do a lot to maintain the good condition of your composite roof.
Generally, the way you maintain any kind of roof is the same for composite roofing. You have to ensure that you inspect and clean your roof at least once a year to clear away debris.
If there’s been a heavy storm, you should inspect it for damage. This will also enable you to stay on top of any changes or issues, such as leaks or other damage.
Other maintenance tips:
Check for algae and moss, as these can cause your roof to have a decreased lifespan. These grow into the shingles, lift the edges of your roof, and then loosen the granules.
Birds could peck at the roof material to remove the moss or algae, which causes holes to appear at the peaks of your composition roof. This can lead to leaks and water damage inside the home, which is why it’s essential to check your roof regularly.
While organic composite shingles used to be popular in the 1920s because they were cost-effective, these days they’ve been replaced by fiberglass shingles that are fire-resistant and durable.
Is a composite roof resistant to fire?
Composite roofs have a Class A rating against fire, which means it’s the most effective protection against severe fire exposure. Other types of roofing materials with this rating include concrete, clay, metal, slate, and asphalt. Class A roofs last long before igniting.
If you want to find the best roofing materials for your home, you should consider composite roofs. These are made out of a variety of materials, which makes them more durable and resistant against fire and moisture, as well as the harsh elements.
Composite roofs can last for many decades, so although they’re expensive they do work out to be cheaper in the long run because you won’t have to replace them any time soon.
However, as we’ve seen in this article, there are some important things to know about composite roofs before you go ahead and purchase one for your home.
James Weldon is a professional roofing contractor with many years of experience on the job. He does not only handle large projects and provide excellent services for his company’s many clients; James Weldon also dedicates his spare time to teaching others useful tricks of the trade. Using BuildCampus as an avenue to reach many roofers and aspiring roofing contractors, James Weldon continues to provide high-quality educational posts and buying recommendations for anyone who visits the website.