Age and improper installation caused most roof failures in the 2004 and 2005 hurricanes.
Which kinds survived?
Metal roofs had the fewest problems, followed by tiles applied with concrete or foam adhesive.
Nailed-on tiles didn’t fare as well.
Shingle roofs came off in the thousands.
When was your roof installed? Roofs installed after the mid-1990s, when building codes began to change statewide after Hurricane Andrew, survived better than those installed earlier.
How old is your shingle roof? Shingles become brittle and lose adhesion in the Florida sun after about 12 years even if they were properly installed. Has your shingle roof been re-roofed on top of old shingles? If so, beware. Large segments of those newer layers flew off in the high winds.
How was your roof tile applied? Tiles applied with only concrete or foam adhesive fared better than nailed-on or screwed-on tiles, which can begin leaking after seven to 10 years. As with shingles, age affects performance.
How many layers or ‘plys’ make up your flat roof? A three- or four-ply interlining (under the roof coating) is generally better than two. Expect a multi-layered flat roof to last 15 to 18 years.
Is your metal roof properly attached? Metal roofs are the most expensive but also proved to be the most hurricane-resistant.
If the roofers used the correct attachment method, either screws or clips, the wind will have a difficult time getting underneath metal roof panels.
Do roof sealants and coatings help protect roofs from high winds? “I don’t recommend them,” says Joe Byrne, a roofing industry consultant and owner of Byrne Roofing in West Palm Beach, who says sealants can make shingles more brittle, affecting adhesion.
Florida Residents - Where to verify a roofer’s valid license:
State licenses: www.myflorida.com
Palm Beach County: (561) 233-5525, www.pbcgov.com/pzb
Martin County: (772) 288-5482
St. Lucie County: (772) 462-1672 or (772) 462-1673
Okeechobee: (863) 763-5548
Price-gouging hot line: (866) 966-7226
Report unlicensed contractors at (866) 532-1440
— Barbara Marshall