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The Miami residential roofing industry is the subject of this informational overview for South Florida homeowners. “Roofer Mike” discusses the factors involved when residents are considering options and dealing with roofers.  

 Some Miami area residents pay little attention to their home’s roofing system until stains can be seen on the ceiling.  Decking and structure may be completely rotten by then. Water takes its time to penetrate the layers of decking and roof materials.

We should treat our roof as an investment. It protects the other components of the structure, its contents and inhabitants.  These systems require their own specific maintenance regimens and qualified, local Miami roofers to do the work. Proper maintenance extends their life cycle and affords the homeowner full value for their investment.


Usually leaks occur at detail areas caused by substandard workmanship and are repairable. The improper installation of metal flashings are almost always the culprit. However, when a roof’s materials begin to fail it is an indication the roof is beyond practical repair. A reputable roofing company can assist in deciding on a roof repair or replacement.

A homeowner’s individual circumstances also come into play. For example, how long an owner expects to stay at their current address can influence the process as much as financial considerations. Shingle roofs, tile roofs, metal roofs and various flat roof systems are the most prevalent residential roofing systems available to local residents. When considering replacement options it is advisable to browse the websites of roofing companies and manufacturers.

Metal Roofs

Many area residents considered metal roofs  too high-end. However, the recent elimination of a link in the supply chain has significantly reduced prices.  When factoring expected life cycles, metal now compares competitively with tile for value .

Developed by Bethlehem Steel in 1972, Galvalume® is sheet steel coated with 45% zinc  and 55% aluminum . Galvalume® standing-seam metal roofs are strong yet light weight, reflective and the most wind resistant sloped system available in the Miami roofing market today.

Tile Roofs

Miami, where every style available is represented, serves as an ideal catalog for browsing tile roofs. Tile dominates our skyline for good reason. In addition to their attractiveness, roof tiles offer a strong, durable, wind-resistant, Class A fire rated option for homeowners at a comparatively good value.

South Florida homes are mostly designed for wind resistance with a low slope. This also allows water to filter through a tile roof to the underlayment. In terms of performance, underlayment is the most important choice when designing a tile roof system as it is the true waterproofing component.

For decades the 30-90 hot-mop system was the predominant underlayment available. Miami roofers, including this one, yearned for a more durable system. Along came today’s self-adhered, modified bitumen, synthetic reinforced underlayment. After over ten years on the market synthetic underlayment has developed into the superior alternative to old petroleum based technology.

Shingle Roofs

Shingle roofs dominate the United States but in South Florida, not so much, as they are not ideally suited for our subtropical climate.  Only when incorporated into a roof system featuring light colored shingles with well-designed attic ventilation do they become a real option and, in terms of value, compare favorably with more expensive systems.

Aside from high end designer shingles, when considering a shingle roof there are basically two alternatives, 3-tab or “dimensional”.  3-tab shingles are generally a budget system with a max life of 15-20 years.  Dimensional shingle roofs, however, are a more viable option. Added thickness gives dimensional shingles a considerably longer life cycle, 20-30 years, as well as much more wind resistance. Most 3-tabs are warranted for up to 60mph. GAF Timberline HD dimensional shingles, my personal preference, are covered up to 130mph. Consider that Timberlines’ additional cost is about $.20/sq. ft. and more attractive – the decision is easy.

Flat Roofs

The most technically challenging roof replacements are flat roofs. The aforementioned systems are rather straightforward, in comparison, with the execution of client preferences according to manufacturer’s specs and to Code. With flat, or low-slope, roofs we get into the wonderful world of design. Compatibility to connected systems, insulation configurations, drainage and durability are all considered in flat roof design specifications. There are literally dozens of low-slope systems available but the Miami roofing market has generally settled on two types of BUR (Built-up Roof) – fiberglass and modified bitumen.

Cap sheet vs Ruberoid

Fiberglass BURs consist of multiple layers of fiberglass sheets with a white mineral surfaced cap sheet as the top layer, with or without insulation. A modified BUR is constructed in much the same way except the cap is a white granulated APP/SBS modified bitumen membrane, also referred to as “rubber”, “modified” or Ruberoid, the trade name for GAF’s modified products. What is the difference? Both are embedded with white granules. Cap sheet is made from fiberglass fibers and asphalt while Ruberoid is asphalt modified with polymers over a polyester mat. They look the same but, when it comes to roofing materials, you really do get what you pay for. Ruberoid cost about twice as much as much. One must also pay attention to the other layers, base sheets and ply sheets, which can vary greatly as well.

Flat Roof Maintenance

Sloped systems really just need to be kept clean, free of debris and trees trimmed to prevent contact. Flat roofs benefit greatly from a maintenance regimen which includes an elastomeric roof coating application. A quality roof coating, applied in the first few years after installation, can double the life cycle of a low-slope system.  Coatings also cool the interior and cut cooling costs. It can be cleaned and renewed with a single coat about every ten years indefinitely. Neglected flat roofs are ready to be torn off after 15-20 years while a maintained system is barely broken in.


Today, homeowners are much more aware of the energy efficiency of their homes. Efficient systems reduce cooling and AC maintenance costs while extending the life span of the roof. Increasingly,  today’s roof designs being incorporated with Cool Roof concepts such as ventilation, insulation and reflectivity. Rising oil prices have also made efficient systems such as liquid applied roofing (Sealoflex, GACO) more competitive with conventional systems produced from petroleum byproducts.

A typical liquid roof is incorporates multiple layers of roof coating with a synthetic membrane  to create monolithic roof system with no seams, Liquid applied systems are also eco-friendly and renewable which, over time, more than offsets their higher initial cost,  They allow for the restoration of the existing roof and avoid tear-off costs. Periodic maintenance approximately every 10 years , usually a light pressure wash and single-coat application, can be performed indefinitely  for a virtually permanent system. “Cool” roofs also increase reflectivity, reducing the carbon footprint, while enhancing  the waterproofing characteristics of the building without placing an additional burden to landfills.


Typing “roofing miami” into your browser’s search bar will yield a long list of area roofing contractors and paid directories. Substitute “miami” with your own municipality for a more local result. Also search online for feedback from other homeowners on each roofing company being considered. Searching the name of the company along with “reviews” will show most of their online reviews. Verify licenses at Always collect at least three or four estimates before hiring a roofer. Along with price and terms, also compare workmanship warranties. Study each proposal for accuracy and scope of work details. Prices for a flat roof, in particular, can vary greatly when different systems are specified.

Always insist the contractor pulls a permit. If a contractor is hesitant or resists pulling a permit there may be something wrong with their licensing or insurance. Building departments always check contractor credentials for each permit but the homeowner has the right to see general liability insurance and workers compensation insurance certificates for the company as well as all subcontractors. To ensure the work is done to Code, permits are worth the cost and inconvenience . One more thing – never, ever make final payment until the roof has passed Final Inspection.

by Michael Slattery

Roofer Mike - Michael Slattery


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