Benefits of Lightweight High-End Roofing

Composite roofing on custom homes is more popular than ever thanks to the flexibility and durability built into every tile.
One piece of natural slate roofing tile can weigh upwards of 5 pounds. The same sized piece of composite slate will weigh about 1.5 pounds. Multiply those numbers by the coverage of a roof, and it’s easy to see that durable composite roofing tiles have a “weighty” advantage over their heavier counterparts.

“From a structural perspective, a real slate roof requires at least threefold more reinforcements as opposed to a lower weight composite slate roof system,” says Amy Hendel, principal of Hendel Homes in Minnesota. “To handle all that weight there must be an increase in the dead load of the roof (and the beams/headers supporting the roof) plus the framing components to what’s necessary for a specified natural slate selection. Then there’s also the increase in the roof sheathing thickness.”

Lightweight and Easy to Work

In Massachusetts, custom builder Nick Schiffer has just completed a Tudor style home with a composite slate roof. According to Schiffer, working with the DaVinci Roofscapes product gave his team the flexibility to attain the distinctive finish they wanted on the home.

“The composite product was lightweight to work with in the many different areas of this roof,” says Schiffer. “This allowed us to create the custom look we wanted on the home design. We were able to achieve the aesthetics to complement the home design while also adding a very durable roof. This experience has greatly influenced the way we’ll bring composite roofing into other home projects in the future.”

During the structural engineering walk through of the project, Rens F. Hayes IV, P.E., Principal of H+O Structural Engineering remarked that the roof is one of the most complicated ones his team has ever done.

With a multitude of pitches, slopes and curves, the interior structural support system of the home is an intricate web of complicated joints and details. “The NS Builder team did an excellent job constructing this challenging roof structure,” says Hayes. “Given its complexity, the lightweight composite roofing system was an ideal solution to achieve the slate roof aesthetic with 30% of the mass.”

Natural Slate a Hinderance

In snowy Utah, designer Kevin Price believes specifying a real slate roof also means adjusting for both heavy snow loads and potential seismic conditions.

“The need for beams capable of bearing more load would be significantly higher for a natural slate roof rather than a composite slate,” states Price, president of Kevin Price Designs. “Where I design, we already have large snow loads that increase the size of the beams. Adding natural slate would result in ever bigger beams that can greatly add to the cost of construction.

“Seismic consequences are also a factor. When the top of the roof is heavy with natural slate, the house requires more shear strength to keep it from ‘tipping over.’ This can result in more shear walls; more steel moment frames; and, in some cases, lessening the size of the desired windows to get the required shear strength.”

Less spec work, reduced maintenance and aesthetic authenticity; these are just some of the reason composite roofing on custom homes is becoming more common. Switching to Synthetics

To combat these problematic design challenges, many designers, architects and custom builders have turned to composite roofing on custom homes.

“There really is no additional specification work needed for a composite roof,” according to Michael LoBuglio, principal at Michael LoBuglio Architects in Connecticut. “The reduced maintenance and longevity are key factors why I’ve specified synthetic roofing for some of my clients. Especially important is the realistic aesthetics of the composite roofing system.

“I’ve learned that not all composite roofing systems are equivalent. The products that I specify must be aesthetically pleasing. They must appear natural and have slight variations in color, size and texture.”

In Illinois, designer Amy Storm agrees. Now in the process of creating her family’s home in the “Shelter for the Storms” series, she chose a DaVinci composite roof with the look and feel of a natural slate roof.

“Because of the weight and the extra structural elements required, natural slate simply would not work for our home design,” says Storm. “DaVinci was a smart choice. It’s lightweight, yet extremely durable. I’m confident it will stand up to the weather and look great for decades to come. And best of all, people have a hard time telling the difference between natural slate and our beautiful composite roof.”

Lightweight composite roofing on custom homes can reduce costs without diminishing curb appeal.

Advantages of Composite Roofing on Custom Homes

Back in Utah, Kevin Price has also found success with the DaVinci products.

“I’ve specified DaVinci in dozens of homes for many years,” says Price. “It often assists me in creating larger spaces and windows. This is extremely valuable when I’m working on properties with spectacular views.

“In nearly all cases these days, clients are asking for larger great rooms that create an open space for the kitchen, dining and living areas. Under some conditions, the only way to avoid high cost with these requirements is to spec out a composite roof.

“After seeing how successful these roofs have endured in our conditions for more than a decade, I’m happy to be putting one on my own home this year.”