In this article we are going to investigate and analyze the benefits versus costs of two excellent new roofing options versus other more common products typically used in the Costarican roofing market.
Today’s information is all about roofing options. Needless to say this is a critical issue in the tropics especially in the Central to Southern Pacific Region that get from 10 to 17 feet or 3 to 4.5 meters of rain a year. Not exactly the ideal location to have a poorly performing roof!
My general dislike for anything in the way of metal roofing has not abated at all fueled by other far superior options that have also come available as of late that demonstrate clearly that there is far better options that a wise consumer can elect. As you will note on the latest post on the Playa Grande build we are using a 3 ply UPVC ribbed roofing where we just put up the first section of roofing over the storage shed. Verrry pleased with the results as we see the rubber meet the pavement on the job site. Before we get into specifics of benefits, typical problems and maintenance of various roofings lets take a look at the costs of installing and maintaining the various types.
Cost per M2 to install roofing then to maintain over 20 years
|Roofing Type||Cost m2 at install||Maintenance m2 over 20 yrs||Total 20 yr cost||Cost per M2 Year Avg.|
|Imitation tile in metal||$20.00||$8||$28.00||$1.40|
Note: *** 30 years of life expectancy remains while others had to start all over again
Ribbed UPVC – Smart Roofing
Best roofing for the BUCK $$$$
The benefits this option offers:
- Coolest of all sheet roofing
- Quieter than any other sheet roofing
- Roofing itself has insulation value lower cooling costs
- Tougher than any metal or painted product
- Solid color going through the whole skin limits fading & scratches
- Won’t rust or corrode in any way
- Light weight
- Larger sheets with fewer joints than any sheet roofing product
- Won’t buckle or be damaged by any worker on your roof
- Won’t grow molds and likens
- 15 year warrantee
- ECONOMICALLY PRICED with lowest 20 year cost
This product is imported from Japan and has been in use here for six years with a a lot of traction especially in commercial and industrial roofs in the Central Valley. Eg. Price Smart. Please do take note of that, as companies that have hundreds if not thousands of square meters of roof to look after are looking at the long term costs to maintain their buildings not just a cheap upfront cost factor. It is only stocked in white but red and green can be ordered with the usual 60 to 90 day lead time which is no problem to incorporate into a building schedule. For all intensive purposes especially in the Guanacaste, the white is by far the most functional being of course the coolest option.
Ian and Corynne felt it fit in with their style well and it was a far more intelligent choice than their neighbours who chose to paint a cheap undulating tin roof (that will peel like a snake in a few years) a dark chocolate brown color. At my politest I would call this a silly choice especially under the long summer sun days of the Guanacaste! Also the long term maintenance realities are drastically different between these two options. Reality is the bloom will long come off the rose from when you first see that new roof on your dream home versus when you are back repairing it on a regular basis. Meanwhile getting reminded as you pay that never ending bill that these types of tin roofs are not actually economical and most certainly provide exactly zero in the way benefits what so ever. In fact of the above list the only thing I can say about tin is it is light weight. Other than that is scores a big F in all aspects of desirable benefits one would be looking for in a high performing roof cladding.
Lets also not forget the long term affect of putting a tin roof in a salt zone. Just 2 kms away from their home and the neighbors tin roofs I noticed the rather predictable affects of salt and tin playing so nice together. I took this picture while having lunch at a hotel right in front of the surf that provides such a nice daily salt bath. This pictures tells the whole story of what will befall on any owner making this rather foolish decision in but a second!!!
There is no such thing as a cheap roof in a tropical climate as every time I have inspected a failing roof, often on expensive homes, that roof has turned out to never be economical. This really demonstrates the difference of cheap versus economical! When you are ripping junk off and starting all over again in a short period THE REAL COST NEVER ends up being cheap. My best example that broke all records from my personal experiences occurred in Bello Horizonte, Escazu where a six year old Zinc Teja roof had left behind it destruction of ceilings, walls and eaves adding up to $7,000 in additional damages. The actual cost of this roof for only 6 years of service ran the client right around $60 m2 or $10m2 per year almost double of clay tile even, hence no matter what one chooses to call that , cheap is definitely not a likely choice description.
This UPVC is constructed as a 3 ply sheet with a thick polymer carbon fiber core sandwiched between two layers of solid UPVC skins as a result of this construction it does insulate pretty well. That is the first test I did with my first sample, I laid it out in the noon day sun and found that after an hour it was just barely a tepid warm versus any tin roof that would have been more like picking up a frying pan off the stove in that same time. At the beach I still would boost this up with the use a reflective foil insulation under it for both the extra heat as well as additional sound insulation. This costs another $3.50 m2 so our typica roof runs from $350 to $1,000 extra to insulate which is a downright bargain for the benefits it brings in creating as high quality of living environment as possible. The combo of the two creates a very quiet roof considering nothing can be worse than tin under a driving Tico rainstorm. Any who have spent any amount of time in Costa Rica have experienced just how deafening such roofs are when you can barely carry on a conversation and forget listening to anything like a TV, computer or phone. Even a garage band would be better as they will grow out of it but I somehow think heavy Tico rain is not exactly a passing fad.
Let’s look at cost factors, the cheapest tin roof runs $13.50 m2 versus Zinc Teja (the red fake, verrrry bad imitation of tile) is $20 m2 versus this UPVC is $19.75 m2. In the Playa Grande case it was about a $1,000 bump up from the cheapest ribbed tin. This is what I would call spending REALLY smart money. Oh lets not forget it will not rust or peel or fade out in white especially. Within 5 years all the tin fades out a good 60% in color intensity so if any piece gets damaged, which is mighty easy, any patching or replacement of pieces is glaringly obvious bringing about a serious cosmetic deficiency of your home.
I shall detour us a bit at this point from the UPVC roofing into a more general discussion of design and maintenance issues prior to selection of any type of roofing. As a perfect example for comparison I inspected a drop dead gorgeous Bali style home in the mountains of Atenas. Although the rest of the home was impressive the builder conned or at least deluded the owner and stuck this crap Zinc Teja on a very steep pitched roof (12/12) that was perched on the side of a cliff. Predictably within 10 years the paint had gone to crap so the owners hired an acrobatic painting team to come in to paint such. Sad to say what they did not know is that even though the first finish on the roof only lasted ten years the rest of the story is going to be even uglier as the on site applied paint will never do even that. Site applied paint and baked on in a factory finish are drastically different beasts by a long shot. Hence they will be hiring this same crew of acrobats again in five years at best.
This brings about two other points of consideration in any discussions about roofing options. The value of the home must be reflected in the quality of the roofing as well as access to the roof for future maintenance will drastically affect the costs of such. The first foolish thing in this case was this is a Mercedes home with a beer can roof on it. That is one really stupid idea especially when the roof in this type of design is a major focal point to the home hence has a huge affect on curb appeal and future resale value. Then we must add to that, a roof that is extremely difficult to access will double to triple the long term maintenance costs hence when you go for such a design along with difficult location the maintenance costs have to be a serious consideration in the election of what roofing should be used in the first place. As a contrary example we are just in the final stages of design of a very similar style of roof for one of our next homes and this crap tin roof was NEVER EVEN REMOTELY CONSIDERED! Stay tuned you shall see what I mean later this year.
Now back to UPVC as we have seen from this first sample it supports weight very well and does not buckle under your weight if one follows the recommended nailer spacings of 70 cm or 27″ max but even better at 24″ as we shall do on the house. It is an inevitability that there is going to be someone up on your roof sooner or later who does not give a shit and will step between purlins making any tin roof cave in which is when you typically get lakes forming in a roof that eventually will look like a war zone. We also found the overlapping ribs close nice and tight so as to avoid leaking caused by wind driven rain getting between sheets. The typical tins are not any where equal to this due to the rigidity factor hence the screws carry the compression far better from between screws. This rigidity comes about as ss you can see from the below picture the UPVC is a good six times thicker than any of the tin products hence its rigidity factor and weight carrying capacity is much higher. Also this comes in huge sheets 1.25 m or 50 inches wide and lengths up to 40 feet long hence fewer joints to contend with in the first place.
This product comes with a 15 year guarantee but I believe it will far outlast that and will definitely outlast tin 2 to 1 if you are within 50 miles of the coast. While discussing the benefit of salt resistance lets divert to one really goofy comparison. Often high end beach homes are built literally at the surf where the luxury standard is to build two roofs by putting a tin roof under traditional clay tiles. That is utter insanity, here is why that is! Even though the tin is added because clay notoriously leaks hence this protective layer is added to catch drips however this protection is quite short lived. what is going to happen is the onshore winds are going to blow pounds of air-born salt mixed in with surf mist each year in under these tiles which will then land on that tin and eat your supposedly protective under layer of tin within 10 years or if you are dam lucky 15 years. Being galvanized only slows down the natural process it most certainly does not stop salt corrosion or rusting. Hence you end up with a luxurious??? and expensive at $80+ m2 roof that will have to be ripped off and re-tinned every decade or so to stop the leaking through the rusted out tin. Each time you do this at best you will salvage 90% of the clay tile but get to pay for labour to remove, dispose of, then add new tin and labour to haul it all back up there. So the victims to this stylish insanity will start out with the most expensive of all options and then get the privilege to reinvest 50% of that same cost every 10 – 15 years.
Now to put stupid on steroids if you experience an earthquake, as Guanacaste did in 2012, all that tile is going to end up in rubble at the drip line of your roof. I further question this idea of luxury with the fact that in most locals this tile turns black within two years as the mold (hongos) take over. Our own house here in Escazu is totally blacked out except under eave areas which IMHO is nothing but UGLY and dirty looking. Without question the absolute worst roofing option of all promoted by architects, builders and designers that are brain dead. A roofing product designed CENTURIES ago has no place in modern construction, PERIOD!
While on the subject I would be remiss not to also do a comparison to asphalt shingles which are quite expensive here at over $40+ m2 yet by their tenth birthday they look like they have been through a blast furnace. These are relatively heavy which obviously affects shipping costs as well as the dead weight on your roof structure. However even without the tropical sun to fry asphalt lets also look at the avalanche of warranty claims going on in the USA right now. Various manufacturers like IKO have not even come close to meeting their warrantees. The warrantee periods have been extended over the past 30 years while the actual quality of the input products have gone down. Not exactly a sustainable formula leaving predictable results like 40 year shingles that are toast in 12 – 15 years in northern climes hence you can only expect worse results here. So after a decade you get to peel them off and start again and here there are no recycling facilities of any kind to deal with the tons of debris that must come off your roof. Definitely not a green roofing product. My logic is why pay shipping costs and taxes on a product every decade versus doing so once in a lifetime for a lighter not to mention more elegant looking product. Other than that take a look at this photo of these 10-11 year old shingles on the grand entrance into a project that is just 1 km from our home in Escazu so elevation of 3,800 ft. I shudder to think as to how they would perform at or near to the beach level. This roof is leaking as evidenced by stains in the eaves but because it is over the gate and guards office it is not viewed as important to the administrators. But what if you were getting doused in your living room? Considering this is the second most expensive roof type this is not what I would call a brilliant option in roof cladding. As they say a picture is worth a thousand words so I will shut up.
I trust you can see why I am a big fan of plastics/composites in general especially recycled ones versus these older and what I would call outmoded versions of roofing. For the dollar spent and performance asphalt is in my opinion one of the worst possible choices one could make with clay tile only being worse. I am not alone in my opinion as two other builders whose blogs I also follow write with the same views on this. If you care to check in with them be my guest, Tim Carter is at this very moment installing Davinci composite slate tiles on his own roof after his IKO shingles went to crap in 12 years.http://www.askthebuilder.com .
Also Steve Maxwell https://stevemaxwell.ca/category/blog/. I have followed both of these blogs for the past 5 years or so and in fact Steve is the one who got me going on the SIPs as well as the first I heard about PEX from.
There is another roofing I have seen in one project this is imported from New Zealand. I only even mention this one for amusement sake as I find it downright goofy plus expensive. It is an aluminum base sheet rolled in another bad attempt to mimic clay tiles then a sand grit is glued down to it. This is also over $40 m2 and is without a doubt the worst possible idea for cosmetic durability. With it being aluminum anyone walking on it would be like dancing on eggshells and what if a mango or fruit of any kind falls on your roof (what a strange concept in paradise), monkeys or the worst of all possibilities big monkeys from cable or ICE up there stomping around on your delicate and expensive and shall I say really stupid idea! Again there is absolutely nothing green about aluminum either and the question remains as to how oxidation in coastal/salt areas will affect such a product over its life. Being aluminum yes it will last longer than steel but its fake look along with cost and cosmetic fragility leave me shaking my head in be wonderment.
Polysand Tiles – Canadian Made
High End Recycled Plastic & Sand
Roman and Slate Style Tiles
I was approached by this company from Canada after viewing one of my videos on recycled plastic tile roofing advising me they had a superior product compared to the ones made in Costa Rica, that we have used in the past. This is the result of that investigation and comparison of products. Lets first take a look as to how this impressive product dresses up a home.
A sample of the slate tile using a blend of colors.
Roman tile in red
Black roman tile.
I have made a video regarding our testing of the samples they sent me and I must say they are making an impressive product however this product is for those who want their roof to be a show piece not just simply utilitarian. At this point the cost would be more than double of the UPVC roofing at $47.15 m2 at least as long as it remains an imported product. If there is sufficient interest in the market here they would like to start producing this product right here. This would eliminate the import taxes and shipping costs which is no small matter at a third of the final cost. Last I checked the principle raw ingredients of plastic and sand are indeed not too hard to locate in Costa Rica. This is indeed a green product considering its ingredients yet within the price range of all of its competitors combined with high end curb appeal styling.
Benefits this option offers are:
- 2nd Coolest roof available next to white UPVC
- Incredibly Quiet due to its density that stops rain vibrations
- Toughest product I have ever seen or tested – ICE workers can dance on your roof
- Won’t corrode
- Medium weight due to its thickness and sand content
- Will not fade out or scratch as do painted finishes as color is in the material
- Rigid requiring fewer hidden fasteners – none in the wet zone
- Small pieces that won’t peel in high winds
- Fire resistant (see video)
- Luxury appearance without a luxury price tag at $2.35 m2 per year over 20 yrs
- Most cannot tell the difference from tradtional roofs at double to triple the cost
- Will not turn black from molds and liken as do clay or cement tiles
- Zero maintenance
- Green product using totally recycled plastic
- Longest warranty offered for any roofing product
These come with a 50 year warranty as well as offering both the roman style of tile as well as the European slate style of roof. We all know the life cycle of plastic is very long when dumped in a landfill but in this application the long life is exactly what we want in any roofing product especially when combined with sand as the base. Without question these do make for a very classy roof at a reasonable price as compared to other options. I have as yet to see any product in any of the price ranges that actually do any where near as good of a job at mimicking the traditional tiles plus doing so in a green method. Still massively superior to any clay tile in that they would be less than 1/3 the cost yet will not leak like a sieve, grow plants, break, require maintenance or require massive structural enhancements. The traditional clay tiles weight tons more dry but get even worse yet when they retain water during our rainy season. This makes their excessive weight balloon up even more tons hence requiring significantly beefed up roof structures that of course add to the cost.
The Polysand tiles are heavier than the thin solid plastic ones we have used due to 60% of the content being sand plus the fact that they are double the thickness hence are way more rigid while still being relatively light weight at a third of any clay/cement product. One big thing is they are very rigid yet far from brittle hence fastening them down only at the top edge allows them to function without any problems with lifting in wind versus all the light weight plastic only tiles which certainly fail on that test. In fact all these thin ones require screws be used at the bottom of each tile which creates a blemish in the face of the tile as well as a perforation that most certainly will never help. The Teja Real tile made here I would not use at all as it is especially bad for this as those screws create a perforation right through into the lower tile so when a screw comes loose or falls out (which some will over time) there is an open hole left behind to leak of course. Due to being smaller pieces these will not peel in high winds such as metal is famous for doing in areas like Lake Arenal. There is saw a standing seam tin roof just south of Tronadora where they had had to come back twice and add more fasteners to stop it from flying like a kite.