Florida’s climate presents some challenges to building materials, and especially to roofs. Your home’s roof will be expected to endure decades of intense sunshine and ultraviolet radiation, heavy rain, and high humidity. And occasionally one of the most intense storms on the planet will tear through our region. It’s a wonder any type of roof can last longer than a decade or so, but they do! But not all roof materials are equal. Some will routinely last twice as long as others. So what’s the best roof material for Florida homes? And how long do roofs last in Florida?
You’ll See Quite A Range
Depending on the material, you’ll see quite a range of lifespans. So lets get into the details for different materials.
You’ll often see membrane roofs referred to as rubber roofs, but they’re actually made of plastic compounds.
- EPDM: This is usually the cheapest membrane roof you can get. The major drawback for EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) roofs is the seams. Your contractor has to use adhesive where seams overlap and around pipes and other penetrations, which can fail over time. That said, you can opt for yearly maintenance and have all those seams re-glued. Do that and you can see 20+ years for your EPDM roof in Florida, if you go with a skilled contractor. You’ll pay from $550 per square for this type of roof. Other costs, such as adding more rigid insulation, will be extra, and a good idea.
- TPO: This type of membrane is the new kid and comes in midpriced at $600 per square and up. In contrast to EPDM, TPO (thermoplastic olefin) uses hot-air welding instead of adhesive. That’s a more durable way to join seams and handle penetrations. Lifespan for your TPO roof should be 30+ years.
- PVC: At $650 and up per square, PVC (polyvinyl chloride) is a bit more expensive than other membranes but otherwise similar to TPO. It gets heatwelded seams and penetrations for great durability of 30 years or so.
Asphalt Shingle Roofs
If your home is like most homes in Florida and the United States, it already has asphalt shingles on it. They’re affordable and very basic to install, so what’s not to like? Well, that would be somewhat less longevity than the longest-lasting materials. But when you have an excellent roofer, choose excellent products, and do a full tear off of the old roof, your new roof could be a 20+ year roof.
GAF, for example, is one of the gigantic roofing manufacturers. When you use their system and work with a certified installed, you can opt for a lifetime warranty. That system includes roof deck protection, starter strip shingles, ridge cap shingles, their attic vent, and so on. Considering what roofs in Florida will have to endure over two to three decades, I think it’s worth it.
Architectural shingles from GAF, CertainTeed, Owens Corning and the like are good quality and make for a good-looking roof. Your price will be from $350 per square and up, so this will be your lowest-cost option. Except for three-tab shingles, which really are not a good idea in Florida. They are too flimsy, which means they’re risky.
Avoiding storm damage is a key factor in a long-lasting roof, but you just don’t have much control over that. What you can do is buy good products from top brands, and work with reputable local contractors.
Here you will have three main choices, traditional clay tiles, concrete tiles, and slate tiles. We’ll start with concrete tiles, as they’re the newer material. You’ll likely get a 50-year warranty, so that’s excellent. Concrete is wicked heavy but will also be wicked durable over the decades of sun, rain, and wind. You’ll see more color choices than with old-school clay tiles, as well as different profiles. At $950 per square and up, we’re getting into premium-material territory here. But if you stay in your home without reroofing for 40+ years, that seems like great value.
Clay tiles are quite similar but more proven. You can see clay tile roofs around the world that are literally more than 1,000 years old. They’re not indestructible but they work great in Florida. With their profile and an air space underneath they shed rain efficiently and help to keep heat out of your attic. They look fabulous too, but that’s a personal choice. The risk for clay tiles, and concrete as well, is from impacts. But that’s life. You’ll pay more than $1,400 per square, depending on the tiles you choose, and will have a roof that should be doing fine after 50 years.
Slate tiles are a premium product that can last for 100+ years. There will be some maintenance needed now and then, but that goes with everything. They do have that classic look but they don’t go along with Florida-style architecture the way clay tiles do. But still, they are a solid choice. And you’ll have options that cause the cost to run from around $1,000 per square to over $3,000 per square. It’s a natural stone tile so factory-style precision is not part of the game.
With metal roofing you get some of the best options of all, including roofing that can surpass 100 years in lifespan. That’s a very efficient use of materials!
Steel roofing: At the low end for cost and durability you’ll find “screw-down” steel roofing. This is a tough, durable product but drilling holes into steel will eventually cause some rust. It’s not allowed by many homeowner’s associations, either, as some people thinks it look agricultural or industrial. But at around $550 per square for a 30+ year roof, it’s still a good option.
Taking a step up is a standing-seam steel roof. This is a very slick system. Your contractor screws steel clips to the roof. The steel panels are all bent to form their standing seams and to lock onto those clips and to each other. The result is a tidy-looking roof without any visible fasteners. They take quite a bit of work and expertise so are expensive, at more than $1,000 per square. But 50+ years is expected and you get the strength of steel.
The best version of a standing-seam roof, in my opinion, is a zinc roof. This is another strong metal like steel, but zinc forms a patina over time that resists corrosion, so you won’t be faced with a rusty roof in the future. At $1,200 and up per square, you pay a lot but it’s literally a lifetime roof. You should see 80 years at a minimum from a zinc roof.
A Roof Is An Investment
There’s a lot to consider when you’re thinking about a new roof. We can help you decide which roof option is best for your home. Give us a call at 813-373-9088. Our team has more than 40 years of experience in roofing. You can also use this form and ask us “What’s the best roof material for my home?” and we will contact you.