Warm Climate Roofing: Best Roofing Materials for Arizona Homeowners

Best Roofs for Arizona






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In a climate like Arizona, where the temperature are mildly warm for six months of the year and extremely hot for the other six, residents have gotten pretty savvy at figuring out ways to make their homes retain less heat. Good ventilation, central air conditioning, and swimming pools can all accomplish this, but one aspect of the home that people tend to forget about is their roof. When people buy a new home, they’re usually concerned with the size of rooms, quality of plumbing and electricity, and other details, but usually take the roof as it is and don’t think about it until it comes to be time to replace it. When deciding on a new roof, here are some of the best roofs to install that will keep your home reasonably cool whether you’re in the Phoenix, Arizona area or anywhere that’s warm for extended periods of time!

Go Green! If a major concern for you is energy conservation and environmentalism, you might be particularly interested in the following two options, which work directly with the outdoors to produce a cooler home for you.

Metal Roofing

A less popular option due to its general shininess that can distract drivers, metal roofing is excellent at reflecting light and comes in typical silver tones as well as white. White metal roofing cools quickly and is extremely low-maintenance, as they often come pre-treated to prevent oxidation or corrosion. Steel, aluminum, and even copper roofs are widely available and less expensive than slate or real terracotta.

White Metal Roofing

Metal might sound like an odd choice for roofing although there are some advantages when these metal tiles. They are coated with a temperature resistant paint that can reflect away 66% of the Sun’s energy. Because the metal is made from recycled steel, some companies produce aluminum and copper versions also. For the most part, metal roofing will cost an average of 20-30% more than traditional roof tiles.

In terms of energy savings, the level of overall maintenance and durability is increased. The only required task that is advised is coming from power washing to remove dirt build-up. This would reduce the reflectivity levels of the metal tile and simply make white roof tiles look dirty. Since these tiles have such high reflective abilities, sloped roofs can produce lots of shine. At certain times of the day, your neighbor might not enjoy this glare so much.

Tile Roofing

Finally, we come to our tile roofing section. Tile roofing offers the most functionally of all commonly installed roofing materials: it looks great with many design options, and it stands up to the Arizona sun. If installed properly, a tile roof can last upwards of 50 years.

Traditional tiles are comprised of clay and also come in stone and porcelain. These organic based materials stand up to heat. They also provide an extra boost of insulation to your home’s roof by keeping the sun’s rays off the underlying roof. While you will pay more for a tile roof, it can save you money month after month when it comes time to pay your electric bill.

Figure on the left shows the heat penetrating while the figure on the right shows the heat being reflected.

Another benefit of tile is its aesthetics options when it comes to design, colors and patterns. Tile gives you far more design options than any other roofing type. Moreover, since the colors are mixed into the tile materials itself, they stand up well to the Arizona sun without fading; unlike shingles. I’ve seen clay roofing tiles warranted against fading for up to 50 years.

When installing a tile roof: make sure your current roof can hold the weight. Tile is heavy; much more than shingles or sheet metal. If you’re unsure if your home can handle a tile roof, it may not be a bad idea to have an architect take a peek at before you call a roofing company to provide an estimate. Also, if you choose to install a tile roof, keep in mind while tile stands up to the elements such as the sun, wind and rain, it doesn’t do well to being walked on; try and avoid letting anyone walk on your tiles unless it’s absolutely necessary.

Non-traditional types of tile roofs vary from concrete, slate and wood shake tiles. All these types of tile offer the same versatility when it comes to aesthetics but they vary in their functionality benefits.

Concrete Tile

Durable and relatively inexpensive, concrete tile will prevent your home from overheating because the dense material takes a long time to heat up. Poured concrete slab roofing is a great option for areas that have to deal with harsh weather and pesky animals in addition to high heat, since concrete is tough enough to survive heavy rains and winds, unlike thinner shingles. The poured slab can be left alone or, if you’re picky, can act as a more durable underlayer beneath a more aesthetically-pleasing material.

​Concrete tiles are typically easier to install and can be dyed different colors, where paler colors are the common choice to increase energy efficiency (since dark colors absorb light while cooler colors reflect it). A more lightweight and inexpensive option are white ceramic concrete tiles, some of which even come in different combinations of cement and other materials. The white color is extremely efficient at reflecting light, however can cause some cosmetic issues when exposed to the elements so might require more upkeep than darker colors.

You already know about terra cotta Barrel tiles and ‘S’-shaped tiles, but newer products are emerging in this category. Thanks to composite materials from either concrete or recycled plastic materials, these new White Barrel tiles are getting high praise. Not only do they reflect 74% of the Sun away from your roof, but the ‘S’ shape also increases air surface circulation additionally.

The addition of white pigments added to these materials also increases the reduction of heat build-up by 40%. This is largely due to the ability of their white coloration that doesn’t absorb heat like traditional terra cotta tiles. This greatly reduces the amount of heat that would otherwise enter your home, allowing you to keep a cooler interior for longer periods.

White flat tile

Through the combination of combining materials and technology, white flat tiles are perhaps another alternate choice for a cooler roof. Originally, the first tiles that were offered in the past included pigmented cement and fiber tiles that worked well. New tiles that are created use a combo of special fiber and ceramic resins, making these new tiles more lightweight and durable. These can reflect as much as 77% of the Sun’s heat away from your home.

Because of the composition of materials used, heat absorption is greatly lowered as well. These tiles also need to be cleaned regularly so the white appearance keeps them looking clean. It also allows the reflectivity to remain constant on warmer days.

Slate Tile

Slate comes in a natural arrange of beautiful cool tones and is highly sought-after in Spanish and Mediterranean homes. This is because slate contains natural properties that work to reflect sunlight. Slate tiles are also popular because they require little cosmetic maintenance and can be recycled and repurposed for future roofers to use.

Clay and Terracotta Tiles

Keeping with the theme of lighter-colored roofing materials, clay roofing does not keep in as much heat as darker colors. Natural clay color is quite light, but more recent roofing designs have been treated to mimic traditional terracotta coloration and fight color fading from long exposure to the sun. Terracotta tiles are baked thoroughly and quite dense, like concrete, and traditionally folded into an arched “S” or barrel shape, allowing a bit of space for more airflow throughout the roof. If you like a nice warm rust or sand-colored roof to complement the Arizona desert landscape, you’d probably prefer to clay or terracotta to slate.

Rubber Membrane Roofing

Most of us imagine that rubber roofing is made from a natural rubber material like the kind on your car tires. In reality, this is a material that is made from a thermoplastic material that is a synthetic rubber. It’s technically called EPDM (ethylene propylene diene Monomer) and is used commercially for flat roofs. Because it can be applied quickly and is laid down in long sheets, it can cover large roof areas in no time at all.

Of course, these colors will be limited in color with black being a common sight. More recently they have introduced a white EPDM that reflects away more sunlight than the black version. Slanted flat roofs will benefit from using a rubber membrane just as this is a popular choice for flat roof homes. Since it’s also waterproof, it makes the perfect base covering for Green homes that like to add green living roofs.

Solar Roofing Panels

You’ve probably heard of solar panels and may even have seen some before. Solar panel roofing has been picking up in popularity over the year in response to the climate change crisis as well as to save the homeowner a few dollars. Photovoltaic or solar-powered roofing panels store heat from the sun and convert it into electricity, so the light switches, outlets, and other electric knick-knacks in your house will run directly on solar panel. Modern solar panels mimic the shape of traditional shingles, so if you’re particularly concerned with the aesthetic of your home, you might not have to worry about the larger and more bulky solar panels you may have seen before. Many people who have installed solar panels on their homes — even if it’s not the entire roof, but just a section — celebrate the decreased electric bill every month, but the initial investment has been a deterring factor for many hesitant homeowners. However, in a place like Arizona where it’s always sunny, many people have been glad to make the switch to solar.

Green Garden Roof

If you’re really serious about reducing your carbon footprint and giving back to the Earth, where the benefit of a cooler home and reduced utility bill is more of a bonus feature, planting a rooftop garden or “greening” the roof space is becoming more and more popular. Large expanses of black asphalt roads retain heat from the sun rays, and creating a so-called living roof is a direct way to counter this. It is expensive to install and residents who live in particularly dry climates will have to be careful about what they include, but the idea behind these living roofs is that plants use the sunlight to release oxygen and use up carbon dioxide emitted from human technologies. This creates a cleaner environment around your home. The waterproof structure is a type of tray or membrane that is filled with soil and fertilizer to keep the plants up there happy. They absorb the sun rays so the bones of your roof doesn’t have to, and even collect any water runoff to prevent molding and other damage.

​Beat the Heat! If investing in a fully green or fully solar-powered roof isn’t for you, never fear. Any type of roofing material that reflects heat and keeps your home as cool as possible will reduce your power usage since you won’t need to be cranking the air conditioning so high! Here are some less-expensive cool-climate roofing materials for you to consider.