Humid, rainy climates are tough on roof shingles. Back in the swamps and out in the bayous, Spanish moss hangs from the live oaks. In hurricane season, the air can feel as thick as sweet tea. Residents retreat to covered porches and fan-stirred inner rooms, and “pray the roof don’t give.”

When your old plantation home is ready for new roofing, you’d best choose the right shingles for humid areas to keep the weather outside. All roofing shingles shed water, but each type tolerates the wear and tear of high humidity differently. Roofs that suffer endless days of sultry air tend to get waterlogged and end up hosting mold, mildew, bugs and even full-sized plants.

How do you choose among shingles for wet areas?

First, let’s consider materials choices:

Wood Shingles: Shingles hewn from cedar (most often) have been used for centuries. Originally selected because the material was handy, wood remains a common choice in wet or humid climates. Cedar contains natural oils that repel water and discourage mildew, mold, and insects.

Organic asphalt Shingles: The traditional choice for affordable roofing in the modern era. Composed of asphalt-impregnated paper or felt with a protective topping of fine stone granules, these shingles can absorb water over time. This leads to swelling, cracking, and loss of that protecting top layer.

Fiberglass-asphalt combination: These shingles use a harder asphalt layered with glass fibers for greater tolerance of heat and humidity. Many southern building codes specify them in place of organic shingles. They come in a range of weights, offering an assortment of life expectancies.

Slate Shingles: Natural stone shingles are strong and durable, but they are porous enough to support mossy growth. Slate is expensive, and performs best on steeper slopes common to northern climates.

Clay or cement tiles: This classic Mediterranean roof covering can outlast the buildings it protects. It’s heavy, though, and will harbor moss in it’s nooks and crannies.

Metal systems: New products made of aluminum or steel are finding their way into the residential roofing market. They offer advantages of lighter weight and improved durability, but so far haven’t encroached on asphalt’s dominance of affordable roofing.

Now, let’s look at advantages:

Cost: On a budget, nothing beats fiberglass-asphalt shingles for value – even at the top of the line.

Aesthetics: It’s tough to beat stone, tile or wood for classic beauty. That’s exactly why laminated fiberglass shingles imitate them!

Durability: Clay and metal probably earn this ribbon. Both roofing products can last 50 years and beyond when properly installed.

Ease of installation: Hands down, fiberglass-asphalt shingles are the installer-friendly choice.

Color selection: While metal is gaining, fiberglass shingles continue to offer the largest color and pattern choices.

Overall: All things considered, modern fiberglass-based shingles have earned their predominant place in residential roofing, and make a fine choice in high-humidity climates.

Other Factors For Shingle Selection

Existing conditions: Be sure to repair existing water damage before you install new shingles.

Installation: All shingles must be installed properly to perform as intended. Short-cuts now will lead to failure later.

Maintenance: No shingle is truly maintenance-free. You can control moss growth with annual cleaning and inhibitor application. Overhanging tree limbs should be pruned back to promote drying and to prevent damage from falling branches. Keep your gutters clean and functional, or the bottom rows will suffer.

The long, sultry days of a humid summer are best spent indoors, sipping mint juleps. Choose a durable, moisture-resistant roof shingle (and a good ceiling fan) and you’ll settle back in carefree comfort for years to come.