Your roof’s primary task is to protect your home or building from the elements, so it’s important that you choose a type of roof particularly suited to the general climate and weather conditions where you live.
If you live in a hot climate like me and my Albuquerque clients do, you’ll know just how big a part your roof plays in keeping your living and work spaces comfortable—especially in summer. For you, your roof’s main contribution is keeping heat out and your cooling needs down. This prevents your air conditioning system from getting overworked and wasting energy. Even if you’re not one to worry about the wasting of finite resources, you’ll understand the merits of a lower energy bill. (I know I do.) A well-chosen, well-designed roof means that everybody wins.
Here’s a pro tip: The more reflective the roof, the better.
There are exceptions to this rule, of course, since things like insulation, ventilation and thermal mass contribute to the overall performance of your roof. But as a general rule, the more heat your roof reflects, the less heat your home will absorb. All roofing materials are able to reflect heat, but some do this better than others. Here are three of the best:
#1 Metal Roofing
Metal’s natural conductivity may make it sound like a bad idea in a hot climate, but metal works well as a “cool” roofing material because it is highly reflective. A metal roof is capable of reflecting up to 66% of incident solar energy, which means only 33% ends up getting absorbed. You can further boost a metal roof’s reflectivity by painting your roof white or any other light color.
Metal roofs are also highly emissive, which means that when the sun goes down, it easily releases whatever heat it has absorbed, allowing it to cool faster than other materials.
#2 EPDM Roofing
Most roofing membranes are colloquially called “rubber roofs”, but when contractors use the term, they mean EPDM (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer) roofs. Like metal, EPDM is reflective. It is ideal for low-slope roofing applications, making it a great choice for commercial properties.
EPDM is available in both black and white, both of which offer excellent protection against UV. White EPDM, however, offers optimum heat reflection.
#3 Slate Roofing
A properly-installed slate roof has a service life of more than a hundred years. It can withstand any kind of weather, but because it is also naturally reflective, it’s a good fit for homes in warm climates. As with metal and EPDM roofing, opting for light- or earth-colored variants will bump up a slate roof’s reflective ability and keep heat absorption to a minimum.
Keep in mind, though, that slate is heavier than most other roofing materials, which means your home may require additional structural reinforcements before you can have one installed.
Aside from picking out reflective and light-colored roofing materials, there are a lot of other factors to take into consideration when choosing a roof. For best results, work with a reputable local roofing contractor. They know firsthand which kinds of roofs work best under the general weather conditions in your area and will be better able to ensure your satisfaction.
Albuquerque roofer David Gibson is the man behind Rhino Roofing. He has been in the industry for nearly 20 years and is a well-known figure in the local roofing scene. For roofing tips, industry news, company updates and more.