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What’s the Deal With Plastic Can Vents?

Posted August 28, 2015 by Daniel White
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Did you know that proper roof ventilation could make your roof last longer, and insulate better?

Your roof requires several types of vents to let hot air escape the roofing system. These vents include intake vents and exhaust vents and can be either natural or mechanical.

Without constant ventilation through these strategically placed vents, moisture can linger in the structure of your roofing. This leads to mold and rot where airflow can’t reach. Airflow throughout the roofing system ensures there is no room for mold to grow unnoticed.

Because of the importance of ventilation, the difference between plastic and metal vents can make a massive change in how your system runs. How do you make your choice, then? Use this guide to learn the pros and cons of these unique construction options so that you can build the ideal ventilation system for your home.

Plastic Roof Vent

Your roof vents, also known as grilles, provide the crucial duty of expelling exhaust from the internal ventilation system. Heat, moisture, and more escape through these vents placed strategically along the roof. Plastic is one of the primary materials used in roof vent construction for its efficiency and affordability, but is it better than the other varieties for you?

How do you know if plastic roof vents are the right choice for your needs? Are they safe to use? Find out by reading the pros and cons.


  • Plastic roofing materials can be much more affordable than other metal varieties, making it the ideal choice for expensive construction that doesn’t have to be durable.
  • Homeowners can also match colors to match the structure of the roofing so that it stands out less like an eyesore. The plastic roof vents can come in brown or earth tones to perfectly match the roof shingles or the external paint.
  • These are also more user-friendly upon installation, as the plastic is less jagged and sharp to handle up on the roof.


  • Compared to metal and other varieties, plastic simply can’t stand up to wear and tear in the same way. Elements will gradually wear on any sort of plastic ventilation unit, causing cracking and breaking as the material weakens.
  • The brittle and cracking plastic will likely only hold up for a meager lifespan of approximately ten to fifteen years. Homeowners hoping for longevity, therefore, often opt to go for an alternative to plastic.
  • The cost to replace these isn’t much, but it can add up over the years when it includes installation costs and does wear and tear to adjacent parts.

The types of elements that have significant effects on plastic vents include:

  • Sun damage
  • Wasps and pest infestations
  • Strong winds catching on warped materials

Are plastic vent covers safe? Yes. Are they the safest option available for installation and mold prevention? No.

Metal Roof Vent

What are the advantages that a metal roof vent has to offer over plastic varieties? Use this section to determine if this material is the right fit for your roofing system.


  • A metal roof vent will outlive the average plastic variety by a mile. It could even outlast the roofing itself, as metal holds up well to the elements. That is unless you opt for stone-coated steel roofing.
  • Whether your home experiences rains, winds, snow, or moisture, metal will withstand it all to last more than half a century.
  • Corrosion is a key concern when it comes to maintaining your roofing system. That’s why so many construction companies recommend galvanized metal for its durability. Even hail and harsh weather can’t penetrate this protective material.


  • While metal roof vents will grant protection and longevity, the cost can be slightly more than what you’d expect for an average plastic roof vent. For this reason, some who are buying in bulk opt for the more affordable plastic variety.

Expert Tip: The cost covers the quality of the material, and homeowners end up getting well worth what they pay for their metal roof vents.

Do You Need Better Ventilation?

How can you tell when ventilation is poor? Is there a way to rectify the problem before it worsens?

If you notice some of the following issues, it may be due to poor ventilation, and it may be time to replace your old, warped vents.

Did you know that poor ventilation can mean your AC is working twice as hard and delivering half of the results? This contributes to skyrocketing energy bills each month.

High electricity bills despite dysregulated temperatures throughout the home can be a major sign of a malfunction in your roofing ventilation. If you notice hot air stagnant on the upper floors of the home, this could be because it is not escaping properly from the exhaust vent.

Another indicator of internal issues with your vents could be rust, mold, mildew, moisture, leaking, or even ice buildup. You can notice these things by examining areas like the attic and the HVAC system, observing sagging or moisture on the roof itself, and checking the edges of the roof for icicles.

Visit Roof Life of Oregon Today

If you wish to improve ventilation within your roof with vents that stand up to the elements or are affordable and color-coordinated, you can today with Roof Life of Oregon.

The expertise and strategy that goes into material choice and installation can make a massive difference in the lifespan of your roof system.

Click here to learn about the extensive offerings available for both plastic and metal roof vent installation.

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