The choices on the market today for garage roofing may seem overwhelming and there are many factors to consider. Performance, appearance and (often overlooked) laws and regulations that may limit choices. Read on to find about the types and lifespan of popular materials, questions to ask, and what factors to consider when redoing a roof or installing a garage roof for the first time.
Garage Roofing Materials
The choices for an attached garage are, obviously, far more limiting than for a freestanding structure. The attached garage roofing material should match the home and in the vast majority of cases this means the traditional asphalt shingle. Traditional…well, they sure don’t have to be! Today, there are shingles available in a whole host of colors and dimensional shingles add texture, depth, and interest to any roof. Most common shingles are rated for 20 years, but there are shingles certified for 30+ years on the market.
There are some modern homes with flat-roof garages and this type of roof line calls for roll roofing and / or a hot tar covering. Unlike a shingle roof which may be tackled by an ambitious homeowner, getting flat roofing laid properly and sealing every nook and cranny is best left to the professionals. It is hot, messy work. For low pitched and flat roofs, this type of roofing is still the most popular choice. The durability is great when properly applied and this type of roofing will last for 15 to 20 years. Leaks are generally easy to fix without replacing the entire roof.
Of course, the most options in garage roofing apply to the unattached garage. Shingles and asphalt roofing still apply if desired, but there are many other choices, too. One of the most popular (especially in hail prone and stormy areas) is the newest line of metal roofing. Metal roofing has come a long way from the galvanized corrugated metal sheets of yesteryear (although, those can still look great and add an industrial, modern touch). Colored sheeting can be found from black, white, green and red. There are metal shingles with bits of stone embedded in them for a totally natural look. There are metal roofs that mimic the look of a shingled roof, ones that come in flat panels with ribbed sides, and even styles that mimic natural slate. Metal roofing is some of the most durable roofing types available and can easily last for more than 40 years and it provides great energy efficiency and can reduce utility bills.
There are now some popular choices in fiberglass, PVC, and polycarbonate roofing as well. Often, these styles are used in conjunction with metal roofing to allow light into the interior of a garage or workshop. These materials can be purchased in a rainbow of colors (including clear) and, like metal, can be made to mimic the appearance of a shingled roof or even Spanish tile. Lightweight and very durable, all types of plastic roofing is increasing in popularity. Built to last, if kept free from impact blows, a fiberglass roof can last for 30+ years.
Limitations and Cost
Choosing the best garage roofing materials isn’t always based on your own taste or desired performance. In many areas of the country a homeowner finds the choices limited by local governmental regulations and building codes. This type of code enforcement for new or replacement roofing is very common in areas prone to hurricanes or severe winds or fires. Likewise, housing developments may have rules in the bylaws established by a Home Owners Association regarding what style and type of roofing is allowed. A general rule is to see what type the neighbors have, but it is always critical to check with the local government or HOA if in doubt. There is no reason to face fines or be forced to remove a newly installed roof just because you failed to fully investigate.
Once you have verified permissible choices, it comes down to performance and style…but also price! Below are typical cost ranges for a variety of garage roof types. The costs below are per 100 square feet of roof (shingles are commonly sold in this amount and are referred to as “squares”):
Common 20-25 year 3 tab asphalt shingles $60 – $80 a square.
Roll roofing can last for 15 years and a roll to cover a square only costs $30 – $50
Dimensional 30 year asphalt shingles $85 – $120 a square.
Metal shingles range greatly and may cost anywhere from $200 – $500 a square.
Metal corrugated panels to cover a square $65 – $90
Fiberglass / PVC corrugated panels to cover a square $80 – $100.
These prices are examples, but do not include underlayment like roofing felt and labor. It is also a great time to factor in the addition of a garage ventilation system. Good luck in keeping that garage leakproof and looking great!