Roofing is arguably one of the most important parts of your home’s exterior. The roof crowns your home, giving it shape and helping to enhance its appearance. And because it sits at the top of the house, it’s also your home’s first line of defense against the elements. Rain, hail, sleet, and snow are all prevented from entering your home by a sound and stable roof.
But roofs are not impervious to everything. Natural disasters such as hurricanes and other storms with high winds can damage your roof. When this happens, your home is no longer protected from the elements, and entering rain and moisture can lead to problems with wood rot, mold, and mildew growth that can further damage your home.
That’s why building codes require roofing materials to be rated for wind zones. This is because in high winds, some materials may be lifted or torn from the home. For this reason, homes located in hurricane-prone areas will need to use materials that can handle higher-wind speeds than what may be required for the rest of the country. This includes areas along both coasts where wind velocity can reach speeds greater than 115mph. For those areas, you want to ensure your roof can continue protecting your home throughout the storm. Below are the materials available that are rated or can be rated for high wind velocity.
Metal roofing is quickly becoming one of the most popular materials in the US. It’s highly durable, long lasting, and comes in many different styles, colors, and materials. Some metal roofs can easily last more than 100 years, while requiring very little maintenance. They’re also flame retardant and wind resistant, with maximum wind resistance of 140mph. This makes metal roofing a great choice for any area of the country, including those areas that are prone to hurricanes, as well as other natural disasters such as wildfires. Metal roofs are also fairly eco-friendly. Most can be made from recycled material and can be recycled at the end of their lifespans as well. In addition, metal roofs can be painted in reflective colors to become cool roofs. Because many hurricane prone areas are also in hot climates, a metal roof can be a good choice for helping to keep your home cool as well.
Metal roofs can be more costly than some materials, depending on the type and style you choose. Some metal roofs should not be used on the coast, regardless of wind resistance, simply because the salt area can contribute to corrosion. For this reason, stone-coated, aluminum, zinc, and copper roofs are the best choices. A metal roof can have an average cost range of $18,000 to $30,000, fully installed, which can be higher than some shingle roofs, but compares well with tile and other wind-resistant materials.
Asphalt shingles are another very popular roofing material that is widely used around the country. This is a more affordable material for roofing, although it doesn’t last as long as metal or tile roofs. It’s important to understand that there are many different types of asphalt shingles. The lowest cost material - 3-tab shingles, only have wind resistance to 60mph, making them a poor choice for hurricane-prone areas. However, architectural shingles or laminated shingles can withstand winds up to 150mph.
Architectural asphalt shingles are thicker than 3-tab shingles. They’re more durable and can last up to 50 years if properly installed and maintained. However, you do need to check for wind resistance, as it can vary by brand and shingle. Some shingles may be rated for hail as well, but others are not, and if there is hail in the hurricane, it can damage the shingles causing leaks weeks or months later. Likewise, some architectural asphalt shingles will resist algae growth, but others do not, which can mean a higher maintenance roof overall. Asphalt shingles are not as long lasting as some other materials including metal and tile roofs. However, they are the least expensive choice for hurricane resistant materials. They can also come in a wide range of colors, including some that can be used for cool roofing in hot areas as well.
Architectural asphalt shingles cost between $9,000 and $18,000, depending on the quality and various ratings available.
One material that is very popular along both coasts and in hurricane-prone areas is tile roofing. Tile roofing was originally always made of clay, and was frequently used for its durability and longevity, particularly in areas with high winds. Clay roofs are heavy, though, and therefore newer tiles are on the market that mimic that durability and wind resistance without the weight. These include concrete, metal, and composite/synthetic tiles. Concrete and clay tiles can both withstand winds of up to 150mph, making them ideal for use in high wind areas. In fact, tile roofs are one of the most popular roofs in Florida. Tile roofs can be coated with reflective materials to make them cool roof options as well, which increases their popularity in hot areas. Depending on the material you choose, they may also be made with some degree of recycled material, which can make them more eco-friendly in that regard as well. Tile roofs are also flame retardant, which can make them a good choice in wildfire-prone areas as well.
Tile roofs can be expensive depending on the material. Some materials, like clay, are also high in maintenance. They need to be removed periodically so the underlayment can be changed, and may be damaged if walked on. However newer materials are more durable, and most tile roofs when properly maintained can last up to 100 years or more.
The average tile roof costs $19,000 to $35,000 installed, which does make it the most costly of the various hurricane-proof roofs.
Other Hurricane-Proof Roof Considerations
Roofing material isn’t the only thing you should consider when you’re trying to make your home hurricane proof.
The pitch and shape of your roof can also impact how well it will perform. Ideally, the more slopes a roof has, the better its resistance. This would make a home with an octagonal or hexagonal roof the best for withstanding winds. This would mean an octagonal or hexagonal home, however, which are fairly rare.
Therefore, the best roof is a hipped roof, which has four distinct slopes. In addition, the ideal slope of the roof should be 30-degrees. This pitch helps prevent the winds from getting under the roofing material, preventing liftoff.
Finally, you need to pay close attention to areas where pressure could build on the roof. Ideally, you want wind to simply pass over your home. So, if something blocks it, pressure could build, causing that section to lift or break. These areas such as ridge caps, corners and eaves may be more susceptible. It’s best to use extra care in installation of these areas, to ensure they aren’t damaged in a hurricane.
Talk to Your Contractor
The best thing that you can do is to speak to your roofing contractor about what you’re hoping to get out of a hurricane-proof roof. They will also be able to assist you with meeting local and state building codes for hurricane protection based on where you live, as well as to advise on their own best practices and suggestions for hurricane protection. Then, you’ll enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that your home has the best protection from hurricane damage, no matter which of these materials you choose.
Irena is an industry analyst at Fixr.com. She analyzes and looks for visual ways to simplify data. She researches and writes about home improvement. For this article she analyzed types of roofing that can withstand hurricanes, and presented you three best types of roof for the areas with the highest risks of hurricanes.
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