The most common roof covering on homes and other residential structures in Texas is the asphalt shingle. This readily-available material helps protect homes against sun, rain and other damaging weather, but it does have some disadvantages in Texas's often severe conditions. Asphalt shingles' primary advantages are their low cost and ease of installation.
Asphalt Shingle Manufacturing in Texas
This kind of roof material is slightly flexible, with a fiberglass backing that supports the rest of the shingle. An asphalt coating over this backing helps keep water out of the roof and supports the mineral grit that makes up the top face of the shingle. This grit comes in a wide range of colors and helps the roof avoid sun damage and shed snow. These are essential elements when it comes to roofing in Texas.
Asphalt Shingles and Texas Weather
Texas experiences two of the most damaging weather phenomena a roof can suffer: hail and high wind. These can batter and shred shingles or lift them and tear them from their nails, creating leaks in the roof's protective surface. The Texas Department of Insurance recommends that homeowners choose only asphalt shingles that comply with ASTM D 7158 Class H or ASTM D 3161 Class F. Because asphalt shingles use a petroleum base, they can also be damaged by very hot days and cool evenings in some parts of Texas.
Shingles should always use at least number 15 underlayment and at least two layers of felt for roofs with slopes of 2:12 to 4:12. Higher slopes require only one layer, but are less common in Texas than in many northern states. Texas homeowners with flat roofs should never install asphalt shingles. To minimize shingle loss in high winds, homeowners should use 12 gauge stainless steel nails with a head of 3/8 inch in diameter. Staples are a tempting alternative, but won't keep the shingles on the roof in a severe wind storm.
Alternatives to Asphalt Shingles for Texas Homeowners
While asphalt shingles are inexpensive, they have a relatively short lifespan when compared to many other materials. Most last only 15 to 20 years, with more replacement and maintenance required in areas of Texas with harsh weather. Once they have been removed from a roof, shingles usually cannot be recycled. They also don't work on the flat roofs common on some commercial buildings and in some styles of Southwestern architecture.
Texas homeowners who have roofs that aren't appropriate for asphalt shingles or who want to avoid this material's disadvantages can choose from several different options, including metal, wood, clay and concrete. Many of these products qualify for impact-resistant roofing credits from the State of Texas itself. These credits have been designed to encourage homeowners to use roof coverings that can stand up to hail and high winds, and come in four levels.
Red cedar shakes and shingles, polymer roof tiles and fiberglass shingles are all highly impact-resistant, as is synthetic slate. Formed and coated impact-resistant steel panels are common on commercial buildings in Texas, though fewer homeowners use them. Traditional clay tiles are attractive and part of Texas heritage, making them a distinctive and fairly common roofing material in the south, but they don't qualify as impact-resistant and can be easily damaged by hail.