How to Build a Hurricane-Proof Roof
Once again, I am sitting and watching my neighbors’ roofs blow away in a hurricane. First, the asphalt shingles on my neighbors’ houses start to flap. As the wind grows stronger, the shingles start to break and fly away. And then, as the strong winds grow even stronger, the shingles start to lift in sections and the tar paper underlayment of the roofs show. At this point, my neighbors see their interior ceilings start to dampen and then get totally wet. After the storm finally passes, my neighbors have to deal with interior damage and lots of exterior roof damage. They should really start to consider how to build a hurricane proof roof.
No doubt about it, residents on the Gulf Coast must deal with weather, tropical storms in particular, which other parts of the country just don’t have knowledge of. And that means that roof materials and construction which works just fine in other parts of the country don’t work so well here when a bad storm comes.
There is a solution to this annual worry about whether the roof over the family’s head is going to hold up or blow away. Metal roofs for residential structures are a very storm-resistant solution to the problem of shingles flying away. And metal roofs are quite cost effective.
Importance of Fortifying a Roof against High Wind
Traditional roof coverings, asphalt shingles in particular, provide good low-cost service in many parts of the country, but shingles on Gulf Coast houses face problems shingles in other parts of the country don’t. Our long hot season and high humidity conditions make asphalt shingles wear out and get brittle in a shorter period of time. When these worn-out shingles are presented with hurricane force winds, they tend to break and fly away. Water damage to the home is the result.
Metal roofing is much less likely to fail due to wind damage from hurricane-force wind. Metal roofing is screwed down to the sub-layers of the roof structure, and there are fewer seams and edges on a metal roof for the wind to lift and pull away.
Jason Norton, president of Baker Metal Works and Supply, a major Gulf Coast supplier of quality metal roofing from Dixie Building Supply, says when asked about fortifying roofs here on the Gulf Coast, “Very important. High sustained winds occur during hurricanes common to the Gulf Coast. The first thing that someone seeking fortification should do is get with a local engineer/architect to see if the product you are interested in fits all the criteria for your specific location.
Some products might meet or exceed requirements in certain areas but not in others. Many factors go into calculating if a specific metal roofing product will work. Roof slope, wind exposure category and design wind speed for the actual house location must be considered.”
What Goes into a Wind-Resistant Hurricane Proof Roof
Roof design makes a big difference for houses built in potential hurricane regions. Where a specific house is located on the coast is also important. Pricing for both material and installation of residential roofs vary greatly according to specific location. There are many variables which make best roof design and material choice difficult.
A study done in France in 2007 on the best roof pitch for hurricanes showed some general tendencies. First, houses with “hip roofs”(four slopes) performed better than houses with “gable roofs” (two slopes). A thirty-degree roof slope gave the best wind resistance roof design results.
Also, this French wind-tunnel study showed that certain areas of a building such as the ridge of the roof, corners, and eaves are subject to higher wind pressures.
Working with a professional contractor who is current with legal requirements and building codes is very important.
“Follow all local and state building codes. Getting your house (and any other buildings) fortified is a great way to protect your home from the harshest of elements. It will cost the homeowner a little more in upfront costs, but it is worth every penny to know that your house is fortified, and it could very possibly save you money on insurance,” Norton said.
What are Best Roofing Materials For a Hurricane
A wide range of roofing material exist for homeowners facing roof repair after storm damage to choose. Picking the best and most storm-resistant roofing material will take some time and study.
Traditional asphalt shingles are cheaper, and they can be applied to most roofs by unskilled crews. In low-wind situations, asphalt shingles are a good choice.
On the other hand, metal hurricane proof roofs will cost from a third to a half more than shingles upfront at the time of application. Metal roofs require skilled and trained crews to properly apply the material to the home. Unlike traditional shingle roofs, the installation of a metal roof must always be carried out in an accurately measured and highly precise manner.
On the face of it, shingles might seem the best choice. However, most shingle roofs will not last in good storm-resistant shape for much more than ten or twelve years. Then re-roofing must be done to keep the home safe from wind and water damage.
Metal roofs are often guaranteed for fifty to sixty years. Once a metal roof is applied, it should not require replacement or repair for a long, long time.
The lower up-front cost for homeowners who choose asphalt shingles will be evened out over the long run by the metal roofing’s strength and security from storm damage.
And another advantage of metal roofing on residential buildings is lower insurance costs. Quite often when a homeowner applies a metal roof, the insurance carrier will lower premiums and deductibles because the house is much less likely to suffer roof damage from hurricanes.
In short, metal roofs don’t deteriorate in the sun, they don’t corrode, and they withstand strong wind.
How to Save Money if Rebuilding after Sally
Gulf Coast homeowners who suffered roof damage from Hurricane Sally, or any of the many other tropical storms we’ve experienced this season, are in position to make their homes much less likely to see storm damage in the future.
Metal hurricane proof roofs can be applied to most existing residential roofs or storm proof sheds. Licensed contractors can evaluate individual homes and give good estimates of cost and time required to re-roof a storm-damaged home. Working with an experienced and fully-certified contractor is crucial. Metal roofing requires skilled crews to apply correctly.
“Existing homeowners that had damage and plan on building a metal hurricane proof roof can contact a local fortified inspector to guide them through the process of Bronze Fortification (roof only), Norton said. Again, verify that the product you are interested in meets or exceeds your wind exposure category. If the homeowner/contractor follows all the steps laid out by the fortification process, you should be able to receive a discount (verify with your specific insurance carrier).”
On a Personal Note
Four years ago we noticed that our house’s original shingle roof was looking worse for wear. We checked prices for re-roofing, and even though the initial costs were considerably higher than a re-shingling job, we decided to put down a metal roof.
At this point just weeks after Hurricane Sally and just as Hurricane Zeta comes in, we have had no problems with roof damage from any of the many tropical storms we’ve experienced since the metal roof went down.
And all of the other houses in our neighborhood which have shingle roofs have suffered damage- some quite severe.
For us, building a metal hurricane proof roof was the best decision we’ve made concerning our home’s security and our safety.
Baker Metal Works and Supply and Dixie Building Supply can be found in numerous locations around the Gulf Coast.
Baker Metal Works and Supply Locations:
- Baker, FL
- Cantonment, FL
- Fountain, FL
- Troy, AL
Dixie Building Supply Locations:
- Eight Mile, AL
- Summerdale, AL
- Theodore, AL
- Meridian, MS