“Mom, what the hell? Why is everything tan?” I asked this question as we drove into our new neighborhood in the Arizona suburbs. Peoria. I looked around at all the other houses on our block.

Plain.

Beige.

Boring.

They were nothing I wanted to be a part of. Even the rocks in the yard were the same pinkish red colors as the weird, wavy roofs. How could anyone not get lost in these Phoenix neighborhoods? What is the point of having them all look the same? Some kind of culture huh? My mother lent me no answers. Where I’m from the houses were colorful with old timey and brilliant architecture.

The houses were homes because they were each special.

Fast forward 10 long years and I know all about the culture and the purpose for the architecture in AZ. From the paints, to the roofs and rocks, everything has a reason for being there! To start, the odd shingles I was noticing were tile roofing; they almost look like waves covering the homes. Four major reasons why roofing architects and Phoenicians use tiles are the longevity, insulation, cost and the weight they provide.

Longevity

For those living in the heat of the valley, tile roofing is one of the most durable roofing materials and stands up against natural elements better than any other roofing materials. This includes heat damage as it gets up to 120 degrees. This material’s durability leads to a longer life-span, which leads to a sustainable and trustworthy house.

Insulator

In the hot Arizona weather, it’s also important to have a roofing material that doesn’t just allow heat to pass through your roof and into your home. Tile roofing is an excellent insulator and will keep your home cool throughout the summer months in the Valley. As most of us Arizonians know, the electric bills can be killer in our summer seasons, so any little bit helps.

Cost

In comparison to other roofing materials, the up-front cost of a tile roof can be a bit more expensive. However, with its durability and longer life-span, many homeowners feel that this cost is justified.

Weight

Tile roofing is exceptionally heavier than other roofing types. Before you’re able to have this kind of roofing installed, your home will have to be inspected to make sure that it’s able to sustain the weight of the tile.

Painting

For every reason I had thought the roofing was strange, there was a better reason to have them. It was the same with the paint! It seems the coloring was for protection against the monsoons and heat. Apparently, the ideal temperature for exterior painting is between 60 and 85 degrees, with no more than 50 percent humidity. In Arizona, we aren’t getting temperatures like that until the dead of winter on a good morning.

Not only that, but the walls of your house are about 15 degrees hotter than the air around you. This is why most paint experts recommend 70 degrees as ideal painting conditions, and to not paint in direct sunlight – something that is very rare in the desert. What’s not rare though is stucco.

Stucco, or render, is a material made of aggregates, a binder and water. It’s applied wet and hardens to a very dense solid. It’s said that stucco is cheap and very easy to get a hold of. Developers in the late 70s and 80s started this desert wide trend and its continued throughout the years. Luckily for those in Arizona, this material can stand up to the high temperatures in the state like no other.

The cracks and chipping that comes with other paints are simple to repair with stucco. As far as the color, although you can mix anything with stucco, realtors believe tan is a neutral color most appealing to homebuyers. Doing the houses this way costs a homeowner here $1000-3000 dollars whereas the median that everyone else pays for paint nationally is $2500.

During monsoon season, the strong mixer will hold, but it will also get really dirty. If you are going to purchase the render, make sure you power clean your house before applying it and after big dirt storms. This will keep your house blending in with its desert surroundings. much like the house I live in now. I appreciate the design and research that went into making our home safe and durable. What is the point of a pretty house if it doesn’t last?

As an adult, I don’t regret being forced to move to Phoenix, even with its beige and tan houses or confusing neighborhoods, not even the heat. The culture is very practical in the valley of the sun as the people here want what everyone else wants, safety, happiness and a heavier wallet!

About The Author

Larry Newman

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