Pros and Cons of Top 5 Portland Roof Types

portland real estate roof types

A good roof is something we take for granted until a big storm comes through or it’s time for a replacement. That’s why we’re bringing you our unbiased, real-estate-agent-approved list of the Top 5 roofing materials in Portland, and the pros and cons of each.

Except where noted, pricing information comes from Home Advisor, per “square” of roofing which covers 100 square feet. This doesn’t include the cost of installation.

Wood (Cedar) Shake Roofing in Portland

Cedar is the most common type of wood used for roofing in North America. Cedar shakes (the term for cedar shingles cut for roof application) look beautiful and natural, but come with some drawbacks.

Cedar shake roofing Pros: 

  • It’s a natural look with great curb appeal
  • Though lightweight, cedar is strong and never tears or shatters
  • Cedar has good insulative quality, keeping the house warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.

Cedar shake Cons:

  • Cedar shake can only be made from old-growth cedar trees; most are 200-600 years old when they are harvested.
  • Wood burns easily unless properly treated. Many parts of Portland are in wildfire hazard zones, where fire-retardant roofs are required by code. Check the map to see if your homes is in a wildfire hazard zone.
  • Cedar shakes can be treated to meet fire-retardant standards, but chemicals used to treat the wood vary in quality and can leach out into rainwater. Even with fire-retardant treatment, some fire officials still don’t recommend a wood roof in fire hazard areas. 
  • The lifespan of this roofing material is similar to asphalt shingles: 15-30 years, at 3x the cost.

Cedar costs about $250-$600 per square. Maintenance should include cleaning every 5-10 years to remove moss and algae, followed by a new coat of stain or wood treatment (as recommended by the manufacturer).

Metal Roofing in Portland

A variety of different types of metal can be used as roofing material, but the most common type found on roofs in Portland and across the nation are standing-seam metal roofs. These are long vertical panels, usually made of zinc-coated steel, joined by interlocking seams that stand out from the roof profile. For those who don’t like the aesthetic of the standing-seam roof, metal shingle roofs can mimic wood, or ceramic tiles and cost a little less.

Metal Pros:

  • Little maintenance is required to reach the expected lifespan of 30-70 years
  • Metal roofs rarely leak, have zero fire risk and can last a lifetime.
  • Best roofing option for harvesting rainwater
  • Metals reflect solar heat, keeping homes cooler in the summer
  • Most brands contain high recycled content, and can be recycled at the end of their lifespan. 

Metal Cons:

  • Some say that metal roofs are too noisy, but others like to hear the sound of rain on the roof. Either way, sound can be greatly reduced by improving ceiling or attic insulation.
  • Zinc coatings on some metal roofs can be leached out by rainwater
  • It’s expensive

Metal roofing costs vary widely, from $200 per square for corrugated steel to $1,000 or more per square for custom-faced shingles. Pricing for standing-seam metal depends on the size of the project; because panels are custom-cut on site, you get a volume discount. For a more detailed discussion of metal roofing costs, call a local roofer that specializes in metal roofs, or check out this article.

Tile Roofing in Portland

Roofing tiles come in three main types of material: Clay, concrete and slate. Concrete tiles are most commonly found in Portland, but certain types of clay can also be found. Slate is the least common tile choice because of its high price tag. 

Clay, concrete or slate tile Pros:

  • Great aesthetic/curb appeal, classic look
  • Longest lifespan — quality tiles can last over 100 years! 
  • Very little maintenance required, just keeping clear of debris and replacing tiles that may shatter if something very heavy falls on the roof
  • Best material for improving energy efficiency because the heavy thermal mass of tiles helps to regulate indoor temperatures

Tile Cons:

  • Biggest drawback is the weight of the tiles. Many roofs will need to be reinforced in order to support this material, and don’t be anywhere near this type of roof if the ground shakes!
  • The material itself is expensive, and installation takes special training, meaning higher labor costs

Concrete tiles range from $150-250 per square, clay is $300-$600 and slate is $500-$1,700. Tip: Many materials, including metal, composite and polymers, can be used to create realistic-looking synthetic slate or other types of tile.

Traditional Asphalt Shingle Roof in Portland 

The most common types of shingles you see around Portland are asphalt (also known as three-tab) shingles. They’re the plain white bread of roofing — everyone is familiar with them and they’re very good in certain situations. 

Asphalt Shingles Pros

  • Quite inexpensive, from $70-$150 per square (Bob Vila)
  • Easy to install
  • Some brands allow you to add a layer of shingles when the old ones wear out, reducing labor costs.

Asphalt Shingle Cons

  • Relatively short lifespan of 15-30 years
  • More prone to weather damage, but repairs are usually straightforward and inexpensive.
  • Aesthetically, an asphalt-shingled roof probably isn’t going to be a stand-out feature of the house or add home value (On the other hand, a roof that needs replacement will reduce the price buyers are willing to pay for the home).
  • Asphalt shingles are not usually recyclable and end up in landfills. 

Architectural Shingle Roof in Portland

Architectural shingles, (also known as Composite or Laminate shingles) are weightier, with a 3D look that resembles shake or tile more than asphalt shingles. They are also more durable and can be constructed to be more fire-resistant than asphalt. 

Architectural shingles Pros:

  • Range of looks, styles and colors available
  • Longer lifespan than asphalt, 25-50 years 
  • Heavier and more resistant to high winds and weathering. 
  • Some brands are Energy Star certified, meaning they reflect enough heat off the surface of the roof to represent significant energy savings. 

Architectural shingles Cons: 

  • The #1 customer complaint about Architectural shingles is that warrantee claims are often denied. Most often this has to do with installation problems, which is why some contractors go through installation training provided by the manufacturer. 
  • Shingles can not be recycled and are not made of any natural materials. 

Some Architectural shingles are very affordable at around $200/square, with the typical range being between $250-$400 per square. However, some brands can run up to $800/square (such as the Presidential line by Certainteed, which come with a 50-year warrantee).

Are you making major decisions about your home this fall? It never hurts to talk to a real estate agent. Start with a comparative market analysis and see how your roofing project will impact your home value. Contact us today!

August 31, 2020

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. A Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington, he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales. Call his team in Oregon at 503-714-1111 or in Washington at 360-345-3833.

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