In Cool Tips for Hot Roofs Part I, we shared a few ways that Texas homeowners make their existing roofs more energy efficient. But those of you considering an entirely new roof have a few more options: You can start from the beginning and choose an energy-efficient building material that helps keep your entire home cool. For those of you building a home in the Houston area, here are some of the best options for your new roof.
Do you love the natural light tones of slate? Then you’re in luck — slate tiles are a great choice for Texas homeowners. Slate roofs reflect heat to help keep your home cool, plus the building material is durable and low maintenance. However, slate is very heavy, so it’s not an option for all roofs. It’s also a somewhat pricey material and costs more to install than some other roofing types. If you love slate, look for a source of salvaged or reclaimed slate tiles to save some money.
Have you ever admired the Mission or Spanish style terra cotta roofs popular in the Mediterranean, Central America and in parts of the Southwest United States? Terra cotta works really well in hot, dry weather, making it an excellent roof choice in Texas. In fact, it can actually break in wet or very cold regions, so it’s rarely seen up north.
Terra cotta’s light clay color reflects the sun’s rays. Plus, this roofing material is versatile enough to paint to look like slate tiles or add a weatherproofing treatment to increase its reflective properties.
In addition to their reflective surface, terra cotta is shaped in a way that provides a heat barrier. The space under the tile allows air and water to flow and cool the tiles and prevents heat absorption.
Like slate, a terra cotta roof can be very heavy. This roofing material is often used on top of concrete and stucco homes, so you may want to ask a professional if your home has similar weight-bearing ability. Also, like slate tiles, terra cotta tiles can be pricy.
Did you know the concrete tiles can be made to look like terra cotta or slate? You don’t have to sacrifice style for price — concrete tiles can mimic other types of tile for much less. Concrete tiles are poured into a mold and baked to create a less porous surface that is resistant to water, wind, and heat. The tiles can be dyed to light reflective colors. Anyone looking at your Texas home will never know the difference.
Concrete tiles come in different styles —a flat style similar to slate tiles and several varieties of curved tiles. The flat style can reflect up to 77% of the sun’s rays. The curved barrel types can reflect about 74% of the sun’s rays, but like their terra cotta counterparts, they have space underneath that allows for air flow the cools the tiles.
Cats don’t mind being on these roofs, because they are not the typical hot tin variety. White colored metal roofs are more economical and weigh less than other types of tile roofs. Their white reflective color can reflect about 66% of the sun’s rays, but they cool much quicker at night compared to other types of roofing. Metal roofs can be made from steel aluminum or even copper. They are often treated to be corrosion and weather resistant. You can fool your neighbors by painting them to look like slate or other types of shingles. Won’t they be impressed?
Why not give your roof a futuristic look and benefit from using it as an alternative energy source? Houston’s direct sun exposure and flat terrain makes it the perfect locale for solar roofs. This “green energy” roof type takes the sun’s heat from your roof and converts it to electricity. Photovoltaic, or PV, roof tiles can make your roof look like something from a science fiction movie.
There are two types of solar panels: active and passive. Active solar panels are used in hot weather regions to generate electricity. However, solar panels can be used in colder regions too — passive solar panels capture rising heat and send it into the building to warm it up.
If you could take a helicopter above Houston, you may see something unusual, green color roofs. These roofs are not painted green, rather they have plants and even grass growing on top of them. The roof must be treated before soil and plants can be added.
Green roofs, sometimes called living roofs, are covered with a waterproof thermoplastic or EPDM layer that provides a protective layer from from the soil and water placed on the roof. The soil and water runoff naturally cools the roof and provides a beautiful area to visit. Some people even grow fruits and veggies on these roofs!
A green roof can carry a higher initial cost, and requires a very specific type of expertise as the soil adds to the weight placed upon the roof.
All of these types of roofs have advantages and restrictions based upon a particular person’s aesthetic taste and budget. As always, insulation is key to keeping the heat from invading the interior of the home or building, and a reflective surface is a must in hot weather regions.