A Quick Buyers Guide to Common Roof Types

When you’re building a new home or replacing your roof, it’s important to carefully consider what type of materials are the best fit. Beyond the obvious concerns of price and durability, some types of roofing work better in certain climates. Certain materials can even give you a break on your taxes.

Below is a list of pros and cons for the most common roofing materials to help you make an informed decision.

1. Asphalt Shingles

Also known as composition shingles, these start with a fiberglass mat. The mat is saturated in asphalt so it’s water resistant, and then a top coating of asphalt and sand granules is applied.

  • Pros: Widely used because they’re the most affordable roofing material, so it’s easy to find exactly the colors you want and there are many roofers expert in shingle application. Asphalt shingles are also very lightweight and fire-resistant, and they can sometimes be installed right over an existing roof.
  • Cons: Not as long-lasting as other materials (on average, you’ll get 15-25 years out of an asphalt shingle roof). Will fade and become brittle with time.

2. Wood Shingles or Shakes

Whether you choose shingles (small and split on both sides) or shakes (thicker, are often split by hand), wood can be a particularly attractive choice of roofing material.

  • Pros: Natural look blends well with surroundings, can provide good insulation.
  • Cons: Can be expensive, low degree of fire resistance (although this can be improved with fire-retardant coatings), can warp or rot over time.

3. Tile

Can be purchased in flat, curved, or wood-like styles. Clay tiles are made from pulverized clay and water that’s molded into shape and then baked. Concrete tiles start with a mixture of concrete, pulverized rock, and sand, which is colored as desired and then poured into molds.

  • Pros: Huge range of different colors and styles available, high fire, rot, and insect resistance. Very insulating.
  • Cons: Tile tends to be expensive and is generally extremely heavy, which means your roof framing will need extra reinforcement. Your home insurance may go up because of the high cost of replacement.

4. Metal

Thin sheets of metal are rolled out and cut into panels so they can be installed seamlessly at the job location. An underlayer of waterproof material is applied first to keep the weather out. A newer application is to make shingles out of metal for a durable and attractive finish.

  • Pros: Metal is extremely durable and is the best material out there for protecting your home against weather, fire, insects, and rot. Because of this, some home insurance companies will give you a discount if you install a metal roof.
  • Cons: Pricier than asphalt shingles. Metal roofs are sometimes noisy in rain or hailstorms, and the surface can show dents if impacts are too great.

5. Slate

The ultimate luxury roofing material, slate has been used worldwide for many hundreds of years. Because it’s a natural material, the colors and grade can vary from home to home.

  • Pros: Attractive and extremely durable (often lasting more than a hundred years). Much like tile or metal, there’s no need to worry about fire, insects, or rot with a slate roof. Very low maintenance.
  • Cons: Extremely expensive. Very heavy, so requires a new home specially built to handle the load or extensive reinforcement of the existing roof framing. Your home insurance costs will probably increase due to the added replacement cost.

Still can’t decide which roofing material is best for you? A professional roofer or roofing consultant can evaluate your individual situation and give you a personalized, expert recommendation.

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