Have you taken a good look at your roof lately?  We know it's probably covered with snow right now, but do you know what type of roof is under that snow? A roof is a home's first line of defense against the elements; it's the primary protector for the home structure underneath, so as the owner of that home it's a good idea to be familiar with your roof.  If you're like most American homeowners, your roof is probably made of asphalt shingles.  Do you know its age?

Most professional roofers - as well as roofing manufacturers - recommend that you have your roof inspected at least annually, although some experts recommend two inspections:  one in the early spring to detect any winter damage, and one in the fall to make sure your roof as survived the wind-blown rainy spring and fall seasons and is ready for another winter.  Roof inspections are offered at no cost by many roofing contractors, and they are extremely important because if minor damage or a potential trouble area is spotted early and corrected, major repairs can be averted.

But sometimes repairs aren't the best choice.  If your roof is approaching the end of its life-cycle (for most older roofing shingles, that's 15-20 years, although now manufacturers offer choices up to 30 years), or if more than one third of your roof needs repair, it's time for a replacement.  But don't assume that the best choice for a new roof is the same type of material that's on it now.

Even though an asphalt-shingled roof is the most common, it's not the best choice from an environmental standpoint.  Asphalt shingles are a petroleum product, and use of petroleum for building materials further complicates the dependence on oil as well as its ecological impact.  Also, if an asphalt roof needs a tear-off, it's not recyclable, so off it goes to the landfill.  According to the National Association of Home Builders, nearly 1.4 billion pounds of asphalt shingles end up  in landfills each year.

May we suggest a more environmentally friendly roofing option?  Consider metal roofing.  Many metal roofing materials today are composed at least partly of recycled metal.  And if and when that roof wears out and needs to be torn off, it's 100% recyclable itself.  Metal roofs are a great sustainable alternative to asphalt shingles which deplete fossil fuels.  Metal roofs are also lightweight, so they usually can be installed over an existing asphalt roof, which avoids sending that old roofing material to the landfill - that's a double plus.  And metal roofs far outlast their asphalt counterparts; in fact, it's estimated that most metal roofs installed today will outlast the homes they protect.  Finally, metal roofs by and large are more energy-efficient than asphalt ones.

When it comes time to replace your old petroleum-based asphalt roof, consider a more environmentally friendly choice - look into the beautiful and durable options available in residential steel and other metal roofing, a green building product.  Quarve Contracting specializes in green remodeling, and we install metal roofs in the Twin Cities area.