Natural disasters like earthquakes happen at any time and any place. Compared to other calamities, earthquakes are more destructive. It can damage your entire home if it’s not structurally sound. Extreme seismic activity can destabilize your structure and put you at risk.

We cannot make a 100% earthquake-proof structure. Every building can get damaged depending on the intensity of the earthquake. 

However, we can reduce the risk by choosing a lightweight roofing material. A heavy roof is more prone to fail than a lighter one. On the other hand, earthquake-resistant roofs are less prone to collapse, which reduces the chances of damage. They also help in reducing the lateral load and reinforcing strength to your home’s structure.

Let’s identify the best roofing materials for earthquakes.

Fiberglass Shingles

The weight of your roofing material is very important in building earthquake-safe structures. Due to its less asphalt content, fiberglass shingles are more lightweight than traditional shingles. It typically weighs between 2.75 and 4.25 pounds per square foot. Choosing fiberglass shingles could reduce your roof’s weight by half a ton. Since it is thinner and lighter in weight, it becomes more resistant to sideway loads.

In addition, fiberglass shingles are easy to carry and install. It is also a durable option, which can last from 25 to 50 years.

Wood Shakes or Shingles

These terms are often used interchangeably. Both wood shakes and shingles are relatively lighter in weight compared to other roof materials. They weigh less than concrete tiles and asphalt shingles. Despite being lightweight, they are durable and long-lasting even under harsh conditions. This makes wood shakes and shingles good for earthquake-prone areas. With proper maintenance, premium wood shakes can last for up to 50 years.

Modified Bitumen Roof

Made of asphalt and polymerized rubber or plastic, modified bitumen membranes are extremely lightweight. This kind of roofing is often used for commercial purposes. But you may still install it as low-slope roofing.

If your home has a flat roof structure, a modified bitumen roof might be a good option. It only adds less than two pounds per square foot of load, which makes it comparable with steel. 

Composite or Synthetic Shingles

Also known as plastic shingles, composite roofs are great alternatives to traditional roofing systems. These are popular for being affordable while having the ability to imitate expensive roofs. Most composite roofs are lightweight and easy to install. Compared to the usual roof tiles, this option has 67% less weight. It means that composite shingles can perform better in an earthquake than heavy roofing materials.

Metal Roofing

Last but not the least, metal roofing is known for its earthquake resistance. An average metal roof is about 3,700 to 4,500 pounds, which is considered lightweight. Even the most lightweight asphalt shingle is two times heavier than a metal roof. That’s why metal panels are able to resist earthquake damage and minimize lateral loads.

Since metal panels are secured using an interlocking system, it has more structural value than individually installed shingles. There’s no need to worry about roof adhesives that degrade quickly over time.

Moreover, metal roofs add shear strength to the roof deck. It can resist forces without experiencing failure. This way, you can save money on core foundation design. If you live in an area susceptible to seismic activity, consider getting metal roof panels. Aside from earthquakes, metal roofing boasts superior performance during hurricanes and extreme weather conditions.

How To Make Your Home Earthquake-Resistant

  • Choose a well-designed roof frame
  • Install a roof with a slope of less than 3-in-12
  • Pick an earthquake-resistant roof decking
  • Add roof blocks that will transfer lateral loads during an earthquake
  • Attach seismic ties to provide seismic resistance for trusses and rafters
  • Use reinforced concrete to resist earthquake forces


At Pittsburgh Metal Roofing, we ensure that your roof project is handled with care. We are committed to installing and repairing metal roofs in Pennsylvania and surrounding areas. Our roofing professionals can deliver the best possible outputs for our residential and commercial clients. We are ready to install a lightweight and earthquake-resistant roof for your home.

When you work with us, we will walk you through every aspect from design to metal roof maintenance. To get started with your project, give us a call today. We’d be glad to answer any of your inquiries.