The Three Most Eco-Friendly And Affordable Roofing Materials Available Today

by on September 29, 2011

The Three Most Eco-Friendly And Affordable Roofing Materials Available Today

The majority of American homes have asphalt shingles today, with more than 75 percent of homes using them. Asphalt shingles are extremely affordable, easy to install, and they tend to have a reasonably long lifespan. Unfortunately, they are also made from petroleum byproducts and create pollution during the application process, thanks to the volatile organic compounds released by the roofing adhesives. Rarely recyclable, asphalt increase the amount of waste in landfills when their life cycle is over, and due to their design they require a high degree of insulation.

Asphalt shingles may initially be easy on your pocketbook, but they will always cost more in the long run, both in terms of your wallet and the environment. When it comes to being eco-friendly, asphalt shingles tend to fall far short of the mark. However, many other new roofing materials today are being developed with Energy Star ratings or with recycled materials, giving home owners a number of attractive, affordable alternatives for roofing their homes.

Metal Roofs

One of the most cost-effective eco-friendly roofing materials available today is metal. Copper and painted aluminum or stainless steel shingles or roofs are often quite cosmetically appealing and may contain a high percentage of pre- or post-consumer recycled content. These metal roofs effectively insulate homes and reflect a large percentage of the sun’s heat. The only significant drawback to a metal roof is the amount of energy required to manufacture and transport metal shingles or a metal roof. Nonetheless, this drawback can be offset by the fact that the average home will only need one metal roof during the course of its life.

Although the initial investment for a metal roof may be greater than that of asphalt and other roofing materials, the lack of expense for reproofing or replacement can more than make up for the upfront costs. Another reduction to overall costs is the speed and ease of installation: Metal roofs are usually produced in multi-shingle form or individual sheets, making the installation process efficient and reducing the per-square-foot cost. Metal roofs are usually lightweight enough that they can be installed directly over multiple layers of other roofing materials, leading to less preparatory work.


Further helping with the cost is the fact that a metal roof can reduce homeowner’s insurance, in some cases by as much as 35 percent, since they have a Class A fire rating. They also tend to disperse the energy released in a lightning strike, and they are virtually impervious to damage from hail or wind storms and other extreme weather conditions. A solidly constructed metal roof can dramatically increase the resale value of your home.

Concrete Roof Tiles

Clay and slate tiles are also popular choices when it comes to eco-friendly roofing materials, but slate is not a renewable resource, and both clay and slate tend to be quite expensive. Concrete roof tiles are a more recent innovation that has been found to be quite environmentally friendly, durable, and far more affordable than other tile alternatives.

Concrete roof tiles are made from sand, cement, and water, and can be painted in “cool roof” colors to further enhance their ability to reflect solar heat. Concrete roof tiles can withstand the harshest of weather conditions, with a Class III or Class IV hail rating and a Class A fire rating, and they are capable of outlasting the building they cover, from 50 to 100 years or more. Thanks to their fire rating, they can reduce the cost of homeowner’s insurance dramatically.

Concrete roof tiles enhance the air circulation of a home, keeping it warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. Aesthetically appealing, they are available in a variety of colors and styles to complement any home design, including tiles that emulate wood shake, slate, or clay. The initial costs of concrete may be higher than the costs of a conventional asphalt roof, but one concrete roof will last through nearly four asphalt roofs, making it a wiser investment, both environmentally and financially.

Recycled Roofing Materials

A final option in eco-friendly affordable roofs is recycled roofing materials. Many different materials are being recycled into roofing materials today, from steel-belted radials and reclaimed wood to plastic. Not every material is available or suitable for every region of the country, but these options can be quite affordable and fairly green alternatives to traditional asphalt roofing.

Recycled tire roofing is extremely weather- and fire-resistant and lightweight, providing heavy-duty insulation that can help cut down on energy costs. Reclaimed wood will provide you with

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