We can’t talk about roof damages without discussing excessive roof heating. Yes, your roof should be able to resist cold weather and ice, but it also has to stand up against extremely hot temperatures. Why is this? What does it really affect? Well, let’s take a look.
As you’ve probably noticed, most houses and structures in the United States possess brown, gray, or black roofs. In fact, 90% of roofs in America use dark-colored materials, and dark colors absorb a lot of heat on a sunny day. Black surfaces under an oppressive sun can increase 70-90°F during the day and can reach temperatures of 150-190°F. According to USDA temperature guidelines, you could grill a well-done steak on your roof. This kind of intense heat can incur a variety of damages, both physical and monetary.
Heat from the sun is one of the most powerful factors affecting the durability of a roof. Today, many common flat-roofing materials use glue to seal their seams. This adhesive then comes undone in extreme heat, which opens your building up to all kinds of structural problems, such as water and wind damage. Additionally, roof heating increases the internal temperature of a structure, which hikes up cooling costs and electricity usage. This, of course, occurs when electricity rates are at their peak, incurring more cost to you and also overburdening local power grids when everyone has to crank the A/C.
Another problem with a mass of dark-topped buildings is the urban heat island effect. When a large area of heat-absorbing surfaces—such as black roofs and asphalt parking lots—are gathered under a hot sun, they create their own desert island. All that retained heat makes a mini greenhouse effect. Temperatures in that whole area will rise by 5-10°F from surface-held heat alone. This also negatively impacts the environment by way of emitting heat radiation.
So what’s the solution? It’s strangely simple: change the color. We’ve found that the best way to address these issues is to install white or reflective roofing materials (unless, of course, this is a warehouse or other building that doesn’t require heat regulation). A roof designed to reflect or expel heat is called a “cool roof.” White or reflective roofs will only increase in temperature 10-25°F during the heat of the day, which makes cooling your building much easier. Buildings with “cool roofs” require 40% less energy for cooling and can expect to last longer and remain more durable.