Hail Resistant Roofs

Properly designed and installed hail resistant roofs can substantially reduce the damage caused by hail storms. Also aiding in hail damage resistance is the method in which the roof is constructed. Hailstones can be very small or they can grow to golf ball sizes, depending on the strength of the storm and the air temperatures contained within the storm that produces them. An extended hailstorm involving smaller hailstones can cause just as much, if not more damage, than larger hailstones.

hail resistant roof

Better Methods of Hail Resistant Roof Construction

There are several techniques that can be used to construct a roof that can better withstand hail damage. It takes a combination of high quality shingles, a thin layer of underlayment, a rigid decking, and a steeper pitched roof.

First the shingles: there are shingles available that are made with a polymer-modified asphalt (also called SBS, which stands for Styrene-Butadiene-Styrene, a family of synthetic rubber). This type of asphalt is becoming widely used in roofing materials due to its waterproofing capability and its flexibility and elastic properties. It is extremely resistant to impacts (like hailstone strikes) and will stand up to extreme ranges of temperature fluctuations. Underwriters Laboratories rates roofs by a 1-4 classification. A class 1 shingle is the most likely to be damaged by hail, a class 4 is the most resistant. For example a standard wood shake shingle, which is considered to be soft, may be rated as a class 1 shingle. These newer, polymer-modified asphalt shingles are usually rated as being class 4. The life expectancy of these class 4 shingles is 30 years or more compared to a class 1 shingle’s life expectancy of only 20 years. The difference in cost between class 1 or 2 shingles and class 3 or 4 shingles is approximately $700 on an average sized roof of about 2000 square feet.

The effect of multiple layers of shingles: although roofing contractors will sometimes re-roof a home over top of one or two pre-existing layers, the best protection from hail is a single layer of shingles. A single layer of shingles has less “flex” than a roof that has more layers. The more layers, the weaker the shingle’s base, and the more damage a hail strike may do through denting and granule displacement.

Shingle underlayment: traditional roofing underlayment materials were made of a felt-like material. These felt-like materials were prone to absorb moisture and remain damp when the above layer of shingles became damaged. This moisture would then transfer into the roof’s sheathing resulting in warping and rot. Newer underlayment products are thinner, stronger, and allow better air penetration to aid in drying. Just like with shingle layers, only one layer of underlayment should be used.

Rigid roof decking: this is the primary layer of the roof. It is the sheathing that covers the trusses or rafters. Residential construction companies are beginning to switch over from regular plywood sheathing to a tongue and groove style. Tongue and groove sheathing provides a much more rigid base on which to lay roofing materials.

steep roof pitch

The pitch of the roof: increasingly, more and more homes are being constructed with higher, or steeper, pitched roofs. Any roof pitched higher than 6:12 is more apt to be hail resistant. The pitch, or angle, of a roof is determined by the number of inches it rises vertically for every 12 inches it extends horizontally. Thus a roof with a 6:12 pitch becomes 6 inches higher for every foot it moves toward the center line of the house. The more severe the slope of the roof, the less damage a hailstone will do when it impacts the roof.

Metal Hail Resistant Roofing

When considering the installation of metal hail resistant roofing options, you should make your choice based on three conditions: the metal panel’s thickness or gauge, the metal’s tensile strength, and the type of bonding, or the installation method that attaches the panels to each other. Gauge has to do with the thickness of the panel and tensile strength defines how brittle, or malleable the metal is.

The thicker the steel, the better it protects the roof. A 26 gauge steel thickness is recommended because it will resist punctures from larger sized hailstones. A higher rated tensile strength is recommended because it is less likely to puncture or tear when struck by average sized hail. The type of bonding is determined by the type of panel used; standing seam panels or corrugated panels. Corrugated is stronger and helps hide deformities better. Standing seam panels usually employ a double-seamed panel that gives a more flat look to the roof and hides small imperfections.

The Bottom Line

It is possible to build a roof that is more resistant to hail damage by using the right ingredients: higher-quality shingles, a new, thinner underlayment, and a rigid decking material installed on a steep-pitched roof. Although this design is great for a new home, people who own older homes will not be interested in replacing their roof or the expensive choice of changing the pitch of their roof. These owners of older homes can adopt a few of these hail resistant measures to lessen hail damage. By removing the existing roof layers, installing quality, modern underlayment products, and installing class 3 or class 4 shingles, the hail resistance of their roofs will be greatly enhanced. Another possible benefit to installing these hail resistant roofs is that many insurance companies offer incentives to policy holders that undertake methods of reducing weather-related damage costs.

If you are interested in getting a free estimate for installation of a hail resistant roof, follow this link to get a list of local roofing experts. They will give your home a free inspection and written estimate.

When hail causes damage to the roof of your home, you will probably also suffer water damage of some kind. If you do, you can get immediate information and advice, 24 hours a day, by calling 877-960-0491. You will be connected to a local roofing and water damage expert that can answer any questions you may have and can get to your home to help prevent any further damage. These professionals are certified and pre-screened. They will do an initial inspection and provide a damage repair estimate free of charge.

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Written by Mark Huey.