How Does the Sun Affect My Roof?

How Does the Sun Affect My Roof?

When people think of roof damage, they usually think of wind or storms, which cause direct, obvious problems. But there's another cause of roof problems, one far more subtle and long-term - the sun. Sunlight poses several problems for your rooftop, including:

Asphalt damage

As you probably remember from science class, sunlight is made from different types of radiation, including ultraviolet radiation that can damage skin and housing materials. The asphalt coatings on shingles are particularly vulnerable to this type of radiation, which quickly heats the asphalt and causes it to warp, run, or wear out. Shingles under the hot sun will simply deteriorate more quickly.

This is why, if you live in an area that gets a lot of sun, roofers generally recommend an alternative to shingles, like stone panels or clay tiles. Homes in arid places like Nevada almost exclusively use these materials, but they have their place in Georgia too.

Damaged Tiles

Coating longevity

Asphalt isn't the only thing that can be damaged by radiation. Coatings and sealants also absorb that radiation and can wither under persistent sun. Just as paint can crack and fleck, protective coatings on roof panels and tiles can wear out when exposed to too much sun.

However, there are coatings, including reflective coatings, designed to withstand long-term sunlight effectively. We suggest you match the type of coatings on your roof products with the type of weather the house endures.


If you've ever seen driftwood or old decks, you know how sunlight can bleach objects, damaging the particles responsible for color until the object fades. This type of wear happens to rooftops too, especially darker rooftops. Over the years, the sides of the roof facing the sun can bleach out, particularly if the house has wooden shakes or coatings of paint.

The best solution here is to find a shingle or tile color that won't easily bleach out after a few years. We can recommend a variety of gray, white, and even tan shingle colors that prevent any potential problems with color loss and help keep your house cooler in the summer, which saves energy.

Rooftops in Sun

Warping and cracking

We see this damage most often with plastic materials (including plastic siding) and metal components. Sunlight tends to heat up these materials easily. In addition to potential "thermal shock" (moving from cold to hot too quickly), this extra heat can also destabilize the materials. Plastic warps and cracks over time. Metal components like flashing or brackets can warp too, or they may become weak and brittle, breaking more easily.

Overall temperature

Do you see the common thread? Sunlight wears out your roof, and the more sun a roof gets, the faster it will age. If you have a house that endures a lot of direct sunlight and still has old shingles, consider replacing the roof with materials more suited to dealing with all that solar radiation.

Photo Source: Flickr

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