Fireproof Roof Versus Fire Resistant Roofing Materials

Are you looking for a fireproof roof? It’s an appealing thought that fireproof roof shingles would totally protect your home.

Well, we’ve got good news and bad news for you.

First, the bad news. There truly is no such thing as a completely fireproof roof. That term suggests that a roof will never burn, flame up or melt. There’s really no roof material that provides that type of full, fireproof protection.

Now, the good news. There are a variety of fire resistant roofing materials that can indeed help protect your home. And, there are very specific tests to determine different levels of fire resistance for roofs. So, fire safe roofing is a possibility for your home.

Understanding Your Roof

polymer slateSo, the question should no longer remain of “are roof shingles fireproof?” The answer is no.

Now that we’ve taken out of your mind the idea of fireproof roof shingles, let’s talk about what types of fire resistant roof shingles do exist. There’s natural slate, metal, concrete, clay and composite fire resistant roof tiles.

All of these can have a neutral to negative reaction to intense fire exposure. In addition, these fire resistant roofing materials are some of the safest available. However, you also need a solid roofing system to support them.

The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) explains that the roof system has these five properties:

  1. Roof Covering – shingles, tile, slate or metal, along with an underlayment that protects the sheathing from the weather.
  2. Sheathing – boards or sheet materials that are fastened to the roof rafters to cover a structure.
  3. Roof Structure – rafters and trusses constructed to support the sheathing.
  4. Flashing – sheet metal or other material installed into a roof system’s various joints and valleys. This prevents water seepage.
  5. Drainage – a roof system’s design features, such as shape, slope and layout, that affect its ability to shed water.

Making the Grade

The testing for fire resistance is from the outside of the roof structure, not the inside. This means that fire resistant roof shingles are your “first line of defense” against a stray spark from a bonfire. Or, even worse, the spread of wildfire in your area.

Testing is very important for roofing systems. Strict guidelines have been established by two organizations. Underwriters Laboratories (UL) has the UL 790 “Standard Test Methods for Fire Tests of Roof Coverings.” Similarly, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has ASTM E108, “Standard Test Methods for Fire Tests of Roof Coverings.” These tests provide the basis for the fire resistant designations of Class A, B and C.

Are Composition Shingles Fire Resistant?

Before we explain details on testing, let’s talk about the results. Class A is the highest level of fire resistance a roofing system can achieve. Generally, materials earning this grade are metal, concrete or clay. And, definitely composition shingles. Sometimes enhanced fiberglass asphalt composition shingles can also get a Class A roofing rating. These fire safe roofing materials stand up to severe fire-test exposure.

Class B would be lesser roofing products that cannot meet the rigors of Class A testing. After that, Class C materials would be wood shakes and shingles. Similarly, plywood and particleboard roofing would be in the Class C category. These roofing materials can only resist light fire exposure.

Testing for Fire Safe Roofing

Naturally, most people want the safest roof possible. That’s the Class A rated fire resistant roof. There are three tests that roofing products and systems must go through to achieve a Class A rating. The roofing product must pass all three tests to be listed as a Class A product.

1 – Intermittent Flame Test – an assembly of tiles is subjected to an intense flame for two minutes then turned off for two minutes. This is cycled 15 times to see if there is failure in the roof deck.

2 – Spread of Flame Test – flame and air current are applied for 10 consecutive minutes and then checked for failure.

3 – Burning Brand Test – a burning brand is placed on an assembly of roofing tiles with a high volume of wind behind it. The decking of the assembly is constantly monitored for 90 minutes to see if any fire burns through.  If fire burns through the roof deck anytime during the 90 minute trial, the tiles fail.

You can learn more about these tests at “Understanding Class A Fire Ratings and Synthetic Roofing Materials.” After that, you may wish to see how our DaVinci Class A roof coverings stand up to flames in this video.

Benefits of Class A Roofing

Logically, the top benefit of selecting a proven Class A fire resistant roof is safety. Your home, valuables and family are safer in a structure with fire resistant roof tiles.

Consider this. If you own a home where high winds and dry conditions are prevalent, Class A roofing will bring you peace-of-mind. Let’s say you’re away on vacation. While traveling, a wildfire sweeps through a few miles from your home. Embers from the fire are carried by the wind. Then they land on your roof. With Class A fire safe roofing on your home, there are no worries. And, there’s no roof fire. Those embers will not ignite your entire roof. House saved. Vacation goes on.

Here’s something else to think about. Insurance companies appreciate when homeowners invest in Class A roofing. They understand the durability of these roofs. And, they know that Class A roof coverings stand up to fire conditions, severe weather and other extreme situations.

Many insurance companies reward homeowners who have Class A roofing. We’ve heard of people earning up to 30% yearly discounts on homeowners insurance because they installed fire resistant roofing materials.

As we said before, there’s good news and bad news. While fireproof roofing may not really exist, you can gain many advantages when investing in fire resistant roofing.