The use of rubber as a roofing material has caught on in a big way with owners of flat roofed homes and those with gently sloping roofs over the last 30 years or so. What is less well known is that even those homeowners with sloping roofs can enjoy the benefits of a rubber roof thanks to the invention of rubber roof shingles.
Rubber roof shingles can be made from recycled tires, and are fully recyclable, making them an attractive choice for the environmentally conscious homeowner. The tires are ground into a fine powder and then remolded into the shape of a shingle. They can then be dyed a variety of different colors to simulate the appearance of wood, slate and other traditional roofing materials. The simulation is far more convincing than the equivalent plastic imitations of these materials, and the rubber is more durable and versatile as well. Rubber roof shingles are resistant to extremes of heat and cold, ultraviolet radiation, insects and mold. They were awarded an A fire rating by the American Society for Testing and Materials, or ASTM. They are not completely fireproof, however, as rubber is a flammable material, though coatings are available that add additional fireproofing to the original manufacturer's specification.
Rubber roof shingles are also easy to install. They come in a standard 3-tab design that can be slotted together with ease, and can be walked on during installation without breaking.
Rubber roof shingles have only been on the market since 1993, which means that many roofers are unfamiliar with them. Because of this, they often charge more to install them, sometimes more than twice as much as traditional wood or slate shingles. Also, because of their long life expectancy, up to a hundred years according to one manufacturer, you will want to make sure that you use top quality peripheral materials, such as bituminous membrane along all edges and heavy duty aluminum or copper for the flashing, which also adds to the cost.
Another disadvantage of rubber roof shingles is that you often get a new tire smell when they are first installed, due to them being made from recycled tires. This fades with time, however, and should not be noticeable after the first couple of days.
On the whole, the advantages of rubber roof shingles far outweigh the disadvantages, which are minor and easily fixed. For those who can afford it, they offer the attractiveness of wood or slate shingles combined with the near-indestructibility of rubber, making them the choice for a new generation of traditional style roofs.