Much of the U.S. deals with high winds and hurricanes throughout the year, especially in areas along the Atlantic coast and Gulf of Mexico. The U.S. coastline sees around five hurricanes in an average three-year period. These types of storm events bring high winds and flooding that cause damage to homes, businesses, and infrastructure.
While it may not be possible to avoid a hurricane or high winds in these areas, there are steps that can be taken and materials that can be used to minimize the damage as much as possible.
Choosing the best roof for hurricanes and high winds can mitigate some of the risks that hurricanes bring. Hurricane resistant roofs make use of certain roof tile shapes, materials, and installation methods to ensure as little damage as possible occurs to the roof. Major hurricanes will still cause extreme damage, but you can still take steps to protect your home.
According to the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Wind Scale, category 3, 4, and 5 hurricanes are considered major hurricane events and have sustained wind speeds from 111-129 mph, 130-156 mph, and 157 and above, respectively.
Category 3 hurricanes can bring devastating damage that includes major damage or removal of roof decking. Trees can snap or be uprooted, and cause damage when they fall. Electricity will be affected for days to weeks after the storm.
Category 4 and 5 storms will create catastrophic damage with well-built homes losing much of the roof and some exterior walls. Most trees will be uprooted or snapped and power poles will be downed, leaving residents without power for an extended period of time, lasting weeks and possibly months. Category 5 storms will destroy homes causing total roof failure and wall collapse.
High winds can also occur during a tropical depression which produces sustained winds of up to 38 mph, and during a tropical storm which produces sustained winds between 39 mph and 74 mph.
A storm surge is the rise of the ocean resulting from the water that is pushed toward the shore by the high winds that move cyclonically around the storm as it moves towards land. This abnormal rise of water poses a great threat to life and property as the storm moves towards the shore.
Storm surges pose a severe flooding risk as water washes inland, but damage from high winds can also lead to flooding when rain enters through damaged roofs.
The storm clouds within hurricanes can also spawn tornadoes as the hurricane makes landfall, adding even more high wind related damage. Even though tornadoes that are formed from hurricane clouds are typically weak and short lived, they can cause additional damage due to their high winds.
What Type Of Roof Is Best For Hurricanes?
While a hurricane-proof roof doesn’t exist, there are measures that can be taken to create the best type of roof that will allow it to withstand high winds and impacts as much as possible.
Some hurricane prone areas or states, like Florida, have building code requirements in addition to those set out by the International Code Council’s International Building Code. These building codes can have a significant impact on the level of damage that a hurricane can cause when it reaches land. For example, when Hurricane Ian made landfall in Punta Gorda, Florida in September 2022, many of the structures were left standing with only minimal damage.
Roof Shape And Pitch
In areas where hurricanes occur, the shape of the roof can impact the amount of damage that it sustains. The best roof shape for high winds is a roof with multiple panels, like a hipped roof on a square or hexagonal shaped floor plan, which can reduce wind loads as the wind curves around the roof.
For hurricane prone areas, the best roof pitch for high winds is 30 degrees, as this pitch can help the roof resist wind uplift. Reducing the overhang of the roof can also help reduce the damage from wind uplift.
The best roof for hurricane prone areas will typically require hurricane straps — metal ties that connect the roof trusses to the house. Hurricane straps are required by many building codes in hurricane prone areas. Extra reinforcement should also be provided around points of entry, including doors, windows, garage doors, and vents.
Sealing the underlayment layer of the roof can also help guard against leaks if the roof tiles sustain damage during the storm. Updated building codes often require the seams of the underlayment to be sealed along with the underlayment at the edges of the roof.
Best Roof Material For Hurricanes
Metal roofing is a popular choice for hurricane prone areas. It is impact resistant and can also withstand winds up to 160 mph, which makes it a good choice for homes in the path of hurricanes up to category 4. Metal tiles can be flat or shaped to look like clay barrel tiles.
Clay barrel tiles are a popular roof tile in hurricane-prone areas because the concave curve of clay barrel tiles allows the wind to follow the curves rather than lift them, as it would with flat shingles. However, clay is extremely heavy and often requires additional structural support to hold its weight. Clay tiles can also cause additional damage to surrounding homes if they are ripped off the roof.
Composite roof tiles are the ideal choice for hurricane prone areas. They are lightweight and easy to install and have a Class 4 impact resistance — the highest impact rating available — that allows them to stand up against flying debris. A Class 4 impact resistance also means that they can withstand winds up to 110 mph. Composite clay barrel tiles allow you to capture the beauty of natural clay and reap the benefits of a curved roof tile in high winds.
Brava Can Help You Design The Best Hurricane Roof
Other benefits of composite roofing in hurricane prone areas include:
Lightweight and easy to install
Can be walked on to conduct inspections of the roof surface
Can be repaired by experienced homeowners or a roofing contractor
Impact resistant to protect the shingles from cracking, tearing, or splitting in a severe weather situation
Protect the roof deck from water which can lead to mold, mildew, and leaks
Contact the experts at Brava today to learn more about the best roofing for hurricane prone areas and to design your roof!