The most common roofing materials in the state of Florida are asphalt shingles, metal, roof tiles and built-up roofs. These roof coverings account for a majority of home and commercial roofs throughout the state. Some people also use cedar shakes and shingles, a traditional roofing material for beach houses, as well as the less popular slate, copper and synthetic coverings. Each of these materials has its own benefits and downsides in the Florida climate.
Asphalt Shingle Benefits for Florida Homeowners
As in most of the United States, asphalt shingles are king when it comes to Florida roofs. These shingles are inexpensive, attractive, easy to install and come in several different colors and styles. They work on roofs with a wide variety of slopes, making them suitable for the many different types of architecture found in Florida. Asphalt shingles hold up to most weather and require relatively little maintenance. This makes them an excellent choice for vacation homes, where the owner may not be present to maintain the roof year-round.
Florida is prone to severe weather, including high winds and driving rain in hurricane conditions, that can damage or destroy asphalt shingles. The state of Florida recommends that all shingles chosen for use in that state meet either ASTM D 3462 or ASTM D 225. Homeowners should check their local wind zone to decide which shingles are best for them; Florida residents may live in High Velocity Hurricane Zones, wind zones of 110 mph or greater, or wind zones with speeds below 110 mph. In high wind zones, special shingles and extra nails are required to maintain roof integrity.
Shingles for high wind conditions should have the Miami Dade NOA logo and/or labels indicating that they comply with FBC sections 1507.3.5 and 1507.3.7. They should be installed using 6 nails per shingle to provide the greatest protection in Florida hurricanes. This, plus use of shingles with an interlocking design, allows asphalt products to stay on the roof in good condition when other materials could blow off or become damaged. Asphalt shingle installations in windy areas of Florida may be more expensive than roofs in regions with less severe weather, but the best quality allows the roof to make it through even hurricane-level winds.
Other Roofing Options in Florida
While asphalt shingles are the most popular option for Florida residents, they're not the only kind of roof covering in use. Sheet metal roofs, both coated and uncoated, are common on commercial buildings. Some residential buildings also use this type of roofing, as well as copper or steel shingles. Metal is more wind-resistant than asphalt, but also more expensive and less insulative.
Some Florida homeowners also choose roof tiles. These may be made of ceramic or concrete material and tend to be very heavy. They're common on traditional Spanish-style structures, but don't qualify for government discounts that favor roof materials that resist hurricanes. Roof tiles can blow off or be broken by high winds. When a roof loses its tiles, they often damage nearby cars, buildings and other structures. That means that asphalt shingles, despite their less charming appearance, are often considered a more desirable roofing material in Florida.