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Which Roof Types Work Best With a Lightning Protection System?

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Lightning Protection Roof System

When you're serious about protecting your home from lightning, you'll naturally start to wonder what you can do in addition to installing a lightning protection system. Choosing the right materials to cover your new home's roof, or a re-roofing project on your existing home, can boost your home's safety even in a direct strike. Find out which roofing materials handle lightning strikes best and why so you can make the right choice the next time the opportunity arises.

Metal

For the best lightning protection, you want a conductive material like metal roofing. Conductive metals don't attract lightning, despite the urban myth that they do, but rather give the electricity a path to follow when a strike does occur. If lightning hits the metal roof, it travels through the panels and down to the ground through the structure of the building below. When you pair this conductive pathway with a lightning protection system with the right number of conducting rods, you've got a complete system for guiding that electricity harmlessly into the ground below your house.

Metal roofing doesn't interfere with the conductive nature of the lightning protection system either. The two can work seamlessly in tandem as long as the lightning terminals and other components are correctly located and connected together. All metal roofing offers similar lightning protection as well, regardless of the coating or finishes applied, so there's no need to seek out a specific brand or product line to get the protection you want either.

Tile

If conductivity can't be achieved over the entire roof, look for fire resistance instead. A direct or close lightning strike can surge through the power system of your home and damage electrical items, but the potential for fire caused by the heat of the strike is far more damaging to the structure. Concrete or clay tiles offer natural innate fire resistance. Combine these tiles with a lightning protection system and there's a very low chance of a fire starting even in a direct strike to the roof. High winds that accompany thunderstorms are also less likely to lift these shingles and toss them from the roof.

Fire-Rated Asphalt

Asphalt shingles are very common, but they're not a great choice for homeowners concerned about lightning damage. The shingle has no innate protection against electricity or fire, and these shingles also tend to handle high winds worse than other roofing materials. For the best protection when asphalt shingles are the only option, look for fiberglass composite products carrying a Class A fire rating. These shingles offer the most lightning strike protection by resisting higher temperatures and igniting more slowly when exposed to a spray of sparks. One benefit to asphalt shingles is the ease of installation of a lightning protection system since the individual shingles are easy to cut to fit around the terminals and connectors.

Slate

Solid stone roofing tiles are another option with decent electrical resistance and good fire resistance. However, a fire can still start with this kind of roofing after the impact of the lightning strikes knocks the shingles away and ignites the wood below instead. It's important to install fire-resistant roof decking and underlayments, even if you plan to use a lightning protection system as well, to give your roof the best chance of surviving a lightning strike intact.

Want to know more about your options for protecting your home from lightning strikes? We're just a quick phone call away here at Michigan Lightning Protection. Reach out if you want to know more about our lightning protection systems and how they can work with your existing roof or a new one.