Which Roof is Best?

The typical Tampa home may have any number of roof coverings. The most popular is asphalt shingles. There are two types of asphalt shingles, three tab strip and dimensional or Architectural shingles.

Concrete tiles roofs are also popular in the Tampa Bay area along with clay tiles.

Metal roofs are becoming more popular.

Each of these types of roof coverings have their advantages.

Asphalt Shingles

Shingles are of course, the least expensive. Lifespans for shingle roofs range from 15-20 years for three tab strip shingles to 20-25 years for dimensional shingles. There are some premium shingles that are warranted for 40 or 50 years, but we find they don’t last that long. Of course, there are exceptions.

Dimensional Shingles

Another consideration is insurance. Recently, most homeowner’s insurance companies are refusing to insure shingle roofs older than 15 years. Some are at 10 years. The reason for this is the large amount of fraud that’s occurring involving roof replacements.

Pros: Lowest cost.

Cons: Shortest Lifespan.

Three tab strip shingle from Tampa Home Inspection.
Three tab strip shingle.

Concrete Tile

Concrete tiles have long been a popular roof covering in the Tampa bay area. When I started in the inspection business back in the late 80’s, tile roofs were touted as “lifetime” roofs. Whose lifetime? Well, that’s the question, isn’t it. Tile roofs installed in the 50’s and 60’s would typically last 30 years. Modern tile roofs; more like 20-25 years, similar to shingles. This is due to changes in the installation methods and the type of underlayment beneath the tile. The tile will last for centuries, but it’s the underlayment beneath the tile that keeps water out of the home and determines the lifespan.

Concrete Tile Roof

Today’s tile roof is typically installed by adhering a peel and stick underlayment to the roof deck then screwing each tile through the underlayment into the roof deck. This results in thousands of holes through the underlayment. Eventually, some of these holes may leak water. If I were installing a tile roof, I would not use screws but rather adhere the tile to the underlayment with foam adhesive, eliminating the thousands of screw penetrations. This is more expensive, hence, it’s not done very often.

Pros: Maybe a longer lifespan than shingles, Maybe not.

Cons: Higher cost.

Flat tile roof construction taken during a Tampa home inspection.
Flat concrete tile roof during construction. Each tile will be screwed to the roof deck through the peel and stick underlayment.

Metal Roofs

Metal roof have been used for over 100 years. They’ve recently become more popular as they have a nice appearance and a long lifespan.

Metal roofs come in all sorts of colors and finishes. The most popular type has a “Galvalume” coating. This is an aluminum and zinc alloy coating over the steel panels that reduces corrosion. A galvalume coated roof can last 40-50 years.

Tampa bay area metal roof standing seam.
Metal roof with standing seams and concealed fastener over a peel and stick underlayment.

Many metal roofs have concealed fasteners, hidden under seams. Others have exposed fasteners which require resealing or replacement at some point.

Pros: Longest lifespan.

Cons: Highest cost.

metal roof on Tampa bay area beach house.
Metal roof on beach house in Tampa Bay area.

Which is best? If you are trying to achieve a certain appearance, then cost may not be an object. You may want a tile or metal roof.

For a moderately sized house you might pay the following prices for various roof coverings:

Basic 3 tab strip: $15,000.00

Dimensional shingles: $19,000.00

Concrete tile: $35,000.00

Metal standing seam: $40,000.00

Note that based on lifespans, they all cost about the same per year over the lifespan of the roof, except for tile, which ends up costing more per year.