The roof is the first line of defense for any building. It keeps the elements out and the hot or cold air in, and is ultimately responsible for maintaining the environment inside any structure. It makes sense that people have been concerned with improving and advancing roofing technology since the days of straw thatching and mud.
When we talk about roofing technology, it’s easy to picture apps, programs, and new modes of communication that have revolutionized the business side of the industry. However, some of the most fascinating changes have taken place on the roof itself.
Roofing technology has come a long way
There’s more to roofing than nailing down some shingles every 15 years or so; the level of precision on roofs has been carefully honed using tools that take measurements using satellite imagery. New materials are improving energy efficiency, and even the safety and comfort of workers have experienced significant progress.
Many of us think of the introduction of asphalt shingles at the turn of the 20th century as the springboard for the modern roofing movement. But the roof had begun its evolution long before then.
This is an industry that’s been driven forward by necessity and a need for materials and techniques that deliver superior results. Before the age of modern manufacturing, people would use whatever was available to cover their homes and to protect themselves. Information provided by the Technical Preservation Services arm of the National Park Service indicates that clay tiles were used by advanced cultures as early as the Neolithic age. However, this technology was slow to take hold in North America. This meant a patchwork roof made with everything from wood to animal hides.
As the industry progressed, wood, clay, and tin remained popular options. Unfortunately, these types of materials were heavy, unreliable, and posed a severe fire risk—they either inhibited ventilation or added a layer of flammable material. The introduction of the asphalt shingle represented the dawn of modern roofing, and the industry has only gained momentum since then.
Now, people have options that go far beyond the original designs. Roofing is still very much a necessity, but new technology has pushed design into the realm of luxury. Your roof can do more than just keep the rain out; it’s an intelligent piece of architecture that works with the rest of the structure to optimize the internal environment.
New shingle materials and designs
The key to finding the best material for your roofing project is to compare the longevity of the shingles against the cost of purchase and installation. Rolled asphalt roofing may be the cheapest option, but it’s definitely not the highest quality. An expensive shingle that lasts 50 years is still better value than a cheap one that lasts 10. Below, we’ve put together some of the newest and best shingle options on the market.
Architectural composite shingles
We’ll start slow with one of the most popular and cost-effective shingle products on the market. Architectural shingles may have been around since the 80s, but there have been serious advances to both their materials and their installation. These shingles can be manufactured from polymers and fiberglass to mimic both wood and slate shingles, giving your home that curb appeal without adding to the weight of the roof. Materials used to make architectural shingles vary depending on the quality and aesthetic design.
Many people have heard of metal roofing and imagine the large sheets of metal that are used on homes and businesses. But metal shingles are actually created individually to take on the appearance of other materials like stone or wood. This has generated a new interest in the concept and breathed new life into the metal roofing industry. New methods of manipulating the metal allow it to stay strong while creating a more classically appealing roofing look.
This is where the 21st century really starts to shine through. The introduction of building integrated photovoltaics (BIVPs) means that solar panels can be combined with other roofing materials to create new shingles that are nothing like their boxy predecessors.
Solar panels used to mean giant rectangular eyesores that weighed down your roof and were far from efficient. Now, solar shingles blend in with the rest of your shingles and can deliver enough energy to become a viable backup power source.
The only drawbacks? The shingles still need copious amounts of sunlight to be effective and a state of the art solar roof can cost as much as the house it's covering.
Synthetic slate shingles
Synthetic slate shingles are made from recycled materials and have the look of authentic slate. All of the style with less hassle and more durability! These shingles last a lifetime when properly maintained, and have a serious impact on curb appeal. For more information, check out DaVinci, Inspire, and Enviroshake.
No, the cool roof isn’t something dreamt up by Arthur Fonzarelli—rather, it’s a term used to describe shingles that have been designed with a reflective coating or materials that absorb less sunlight than traditional shingles. A standard roof can reach more than 150°F in the summer months. With ultra-reflective shingles, that temperature can drop by as much as 50°F. A cooler roof translates into serious energy savings and increased longevity for your air conditioning unit.
The future of the roofing industry
Roofing will always have its roots in old-world craftsmanship and precision overseen by experienced professionals. However, as the technology behind the materials improves, so does the technology needed to create and install them. Significant advances have been made in the way that roofers communicate, measure materials, estimate costs, and maintain a close eye on those working a potentially dangerous job.
We here at Roofr can now give estimates in 26 seconds using a combination of satellite imagery and artificial intelligence that far surpasses anything that was once predicted for the industry. Advanced roofing technology is aimed towards the creation and perfection of smart roofing systems that can be automated to adjust to the conditions inside and outside of a building.
Scientists are also looking to robotics and nanotechnology that will enable workers to complete particularly dangerous roofing jobs with minimal risk. Combine all of this with the improved capabilities of drones and 3D printing, and we can imagine a future filled with parts being created on-site and green technology that may be closer than we think.
Do you have any experiences with the latest and greatest in roofing technologies? If so, we want to hear from you! Comment below or reach Roofr on Twitter, and don’t forget to check out our website for your high-tech estimate today.