What is a Cool Roof: Everything You Need to Know

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A cool roof is one that is designed to reflect the sun and its heat away from the surface, in contrast to a roof that absorbs light and heat. Generally, a normal roof can reach temperatures around 150 degrees Fahrenheit on a sunny day. A cool, reflective roof stays around 50 degrees Fahrenheit in the same conditions. If you live in a location that trends towards a hotter climate year-round, consider installing a cool roof to lower your energy costs and extend your roof’s lifespan.

What are the Benefits of Installing a Cool Roof?

There are many ongoing benefits you can expect to receive when you opt for a cool roof design. For example, if you have an old or no air conditioner, your cool roof deflects enough sunlight to keep temperatures comfortable. Likewise, you’ll save monthly money on the energy bill required for an air conditioning unit. Further, by installing a cool roof, you may qualify for cost-saving rebates from government programs in your area. Last but not least, you can expect to extend the life of your roof by keeping UV ray absorption to a minimum.

What Kinds of Materials Are Used for a Cool Roof?

When choosing the type of material you want to use for your cool roof, the main factor to consider is color. The lighter the color, the more reflective power your roof will have against the sun. You may immediately think of white as an option, but there are various choices when it comes to simultaneously achieving the aesthetic you want for your home.

Here is a list of options to consider:

  • Asphalt shingles surfaced with light-colored granules
  • Clay tiles with a light glaze
  • Pigmented concrete
  • Wood shakes that are naturally light-colored
  • Polymer shingles that are factory colored with light pigment

If you want to retrofit an existing roof with a light-colored coating, be aware that this may incur higher costs. Contractors have to apply overcoats very specifically to preserve air flow between shingles, allowing the roof to breathe when water runs off its surface.

If you have a particularly flat roof, there are a alternatives as well:

  • Single-ply membrane with light-colored ballast
  • Spray polyurethane roofs
  • Modified bitumen sheet membrane
  • Standing-seam metal roofs (can also be used in steeper pitches)
  • Green (vegetative) roofs, where natural plantings block the water-resistant membrane (keep in mind, this can require more load-bearing capacity, and leaks can be difficult to find)

In the San Diego climate, cool roofs are a consideration-worthy option for when it’s time to install a new roof. Cool roofs can protect your home from the heat of the summer and save you money on air conditioning, making a great environmental choice while extending your roof’s longevity. Next time you need a San Diego residential roofing company near you, contact us. See why we’re a trusted option for roofing throughout the area!


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