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September 13, 2022

What Are the Types of Roofing Materials?

Is your roof leaky, sagging, or damaged? Looking to increase the curb appeal of your home or protect your family? A new roof is a great investment. While asphalt shingles are the most popular choice, there are actually several different types of roofing materials available. Each offers its own aesthetic look, along with advantages and disadvantages. However, choosing the right roofing material can be overwhelming. From the different roof types to the pros and cons of each material, here is everything you need to know about roof materials.

What Are the Most Common Types of Roof Materials?

There are several common roofing materials used for residential homes. It is important to do your research and consider the pros and cons of each option before making a decision. Your local roofing contractor can provide additional information about the different types of roofing materials.

Some of the most popular roofing materials include:

Asphalt Shingles

One of the most popular roofing materials across the country, asphalt shingles are cost-effective and easy to install. They come in two main styles, 3-tab and architectural. While they are both made from asphalt granules, architectural shingles are thicker, more durable, and longer lasting. Standard 3-tab shingles will usually last 15 to 30 years, while architectural shingles will last 25 to 30 years or more.

Pros:

  • Affordability: Asphalt roofing shingles are one of the most affordable roofing materials available.
  • Durability: Asphalt shingles are durable and can withstand harsh weather conditions, such as rain, wind, and hail.
  • Variety: Shingles are available in a variety of colors and styles, allowing homeowners to choose a look that matches their home’s style.
  • Easy Installation: They are easy to install, which can save homeowners time and money.
  • Fire Resistance: Asphalt is fire-resistant, which can provide peace of mind for homeowners.

Cons:

  • Shorter Lifespan: Compared to some other roofing materials, it has a relatively short lifespan of 15 to 30 years.
  • Susceptible to Damage: Asphalt shingles can be damaged by high winds, hail, and falling debris.
  • Environmental Impact: Asphalt roofing materials are petroleum-based and have a significant environmental impact.
  • Poor Insulation: It provides little insulation, which can lead to higher energy costs.
  • Mildew and Algae Growth: Asphalt shingles can be prone to mildew and algae growth, which can affect their appearance and shorten their lifespan.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofing has become an increasingly popular choice for homeowners in recent years due to its durability, energy efficiency, and aesthetic appeal. There are many styles of metal roofing, but the most common are corrugated metal, metal tiles, and standing seam metal roofing. Most metal roofing will last more than 30 years and some styles will last 50 or more. However, corrugated metal roofs may only last 20 or so years.

Pros:

  • Durability: Metal roofing is one of the most durable roofing materials available, with a lifespan of 30 to 50 years or more, depending on the type of metal used.
  • Energy Efficiency: Metal roofing is highly reflective and can help reduce energy costs by keeping homes cooler in the summer.
  • Low Maintenance: Metal roofing requires little maintenance and is resistant to mildew, insects, and rot.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Metal roofing comes in a variety of colors and styles, allowing homeowners to choose a look that matches their home’s style.
  • Fire Resistance: Metal roofing is fire-resistant and can provide peace of mind for homeowners.

Cons:

  • Cost: Metal roofing can be more expensive than other roofing materials, such as asphalt roofing or wood.
  • Noise: Metal roofing can be noisy during heavy rain or hail.
  • Installation Complexity: Metal roofing requires specialized installation techniques and tools, which can make installation more complicated and expensive.
  • Denting: Some types of metal roofing, such as aluminum, can dent easily.
  • Thermal Movement: Metal roofing can expand and contract with temperature changes, which can cause it to warp or crack over time.

Clay or Concrete Tiles

These roofing materials are known for their durability and longevity. An energy-efficient option, they are often used in areas with hot climates as they are able to withstand high temperatures. Clay and concrete tile roofs will usually last 50 years or more. In some cases, they will last upwards of 100 years with regular maintenance.

Pros:

  • Durability: Clay and concrete roofing are both incredibly durable and can last for up to 100 years with proper maintenance.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Clay and concrete roofing come in a variety of colors and styles, allowing homeowners to choose a look that matches their home’s style.
  • Fire Resistance: Clay and concrete roofing are fire-resistant and can provide peace of mind for homeowners.
  • Low Maintenance: Clay and concrete roofing require little maintenance and are resistant to mildew, insects, and rot.
  • Energy Efficiency: Clay and concrete roofing are highly reflective and can help reduce energy costs by keeping homes cooler in the summer.

Cons:

  • Cost: Clay and concrete roofing can be more expensive than other roofing materials, such as asphalt or metal roofing.
  • Weight: Clay and concrete roofing are heavy, which can require additional structural support during installation.
  • Fragility: Clay and concrete roofing can be fragile and can crack or break if they are stepped on or hit by falling debris.
  • Installation Complexity: Clay and concrete roofing require specialized installation techniques and tools, which can make installation more complicated and expensive.
  • Absorption: Clay and concrete roofing can absorb water, which can make them prone to moss and algae growth.

Wood Shingles or Shakes

These roofing materials are made from cedar or other types of wood. They are often used for homes with a rustic or traditional aesthetic. Depending on the exact type and style of your wood roof, it will last between 20 and 40 years.

Pros:

  • Aesthetic Appeal: Wood roofing is a natural and beautiful roofing material that can enhance the overall appearance of a home.
  • Insulation: Wood roofing provides natural insulation, which can help reduce energy costs by keeping homes cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
  • Sustainability: Wood roofing is a renewable and sustainable roofing material that can be sourced from responsibly managed forests.
  • Longevity: Wood roofing can last for up to 40 years with proper maintenance and care.
  • Noise Reduction: Wood roofing can help reduce outside noise, creating a more peaceful indoor environment.

Cons:

  • Cost: Wood roofing can be more expensive than other roofing materials, such as asphalt or metal roofing.
  • Maintenance: Wood roofing requires regular maintenance, such as cleaning and treating for moss, algae, and rot.
  • Fire Risk: Wood roofing is highly flammable and can pose a fire risk if not treated with fire retardants.
  • Susceptibility to Insects: Wood roofing is vulnerable to insect infestation, which can cause damage and shorten its lifespan.
  • Environmental Impact: Wood roofing can contribute to deforestation if not sourced from sustainable forests.

Slate Tile

Slate roofs are made from a  natural stone material that is known for its durability, beauty, and long lifespan. It is a popular choice for historic and high-end homes. While slate offers exceptional durability and lasts around 100 years, it can be cost-prohibitive to install.

Pros:

  • Durability: Slate roofing is one of the most durable roofing materials available and can last for up to 100 years or more with proper maintenance.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Slate roofing is a natural and beautiful roofing material that can enhance the overall appearance of a home.
  • Fire Resistance: Slate roofing is fire-resistant and can provide peace of mind for homeowners.
  • Low Maintenance: Slate roofing requires little maintenance and is resistant to mildew, insects, and rot.
  • Environmental Impact: Slate roofing is a natural and sustainable roofing material that can be recycled or repurposed at the end of its lifespan.

Cons:

  • Cost: Slate roofing can be one of the most expensive roofing materials on the market, making it less accessible for some homeowners.
  • Weight: Slate roofing is heavy, which can require additional structural support during installation.
  • Fragility: Slate roofing can be fragile and can crack or break if they are stepped on or hit by falling debris.
  • Installation Complexity: Slate roofing requires specialized installation techniques and tools, which can make installation more complicated and expensive.
  • Color Variation: Slate roofing comes in a limited range of colors and may not be suitable for all home styles.

Engineered Wood

Engineered wood roofing, also known as composite wood roofing, is a type of roofing material that is made from wood fibers and resins. Engineered or composite shingles are durable, aesthetically appealing, and can add value to a home. However, it does cost more and has a higher moisture absorption rate than other roofing materials. On average, it will last at least 30 years.

Pros:

  • Aesthetic Appeal: Engineered wood roofing can mimic the look of natural wood roofing but is available in a wider range of colors and styles.
  • Durability: Engineered wood roofing is more durable than natural wood roofing and can last at least 30 years with proper maintenance.
  • Low Maintenance: Engineered wood roofing requires little maintenance and is resistant to mildew, insects, and rot.
  • Fire Resistance: Engineered wood roofing is treated with fire retardants and can provide peace of mind for homeowners.
  • Sustainability: Engineered wood roofing is a sustainable roofing material that is made from recycled wood fibers and resins.

Cons:

  • Cost: Engineered wood roofing can be more expensive than other roofing materials, like asphalt or metal roofs.
  • Moisture Absorption: Engineered wood roofing can absorb moisture, which can cause it to swell or rot over time.
  • Fragility: Engineered wood roofing can be fragile and can crack or break if they are stepped on or hit by falling debris.
  • Environmental Impact: Engineered wood roofing is made from resins and chemicals, which can have a negative environmental impact if not disposed of properly.
  • Installation Complexity: Engineered wood roofing requires specialized installation techniques and tools, which can make installation more complicated and expensive.

Synthetic Slate

Synthetic slate roofing is a type of roofing material that is made from a variety of synthetic materials, such as rubber, plastic, or polymer. Durable and beautiful, a synthetic slate tile roof will add value to any home. However, it does cost more and individual tiles are more fragile. While it does not last as long as natural slate, you will easily get 50 years out of your roof.

Pros:

  • Aesthetic Appeal: Synthetic slate roofing can mimic the look of natural slate roofing but is available in a wider range of colors and styles.
  • Durability: Synthetic slate roofing is more durable than natural slate roofing and can last for up to 50 years or more with proper maintenance.
  • Low Maintenance: Synthetic slate roofing requires little maintenance and is resistant to mildew, insects, and rot.
  • Fire Resistance: Synthetic slate roofing is treated with fire retardants and can provide peace of mind for homeowners.
  • Energy Efficiency: Synthetic slate roofing can help reduce energy costs by reflecting sunlight and reducing heat absorption.

Cons:

  • Cost: Synthetic slate roofing is more expensive than other roofing styles like asphalt or metal.
  • Fragility: Synthetic slate roofing can be fragile and can crack or break if they are stepped on or hit by falling debris.
  • Installation Complexity: Synthetic slate roofing requires specialized installation techniques and tools, which can make installation more complicated and expensive.
  • Environmental Impact: Synthetic slate roofing is made from synthetic materials, which can have a negative environmental impact if not disposed of properly.
  • Moisture Absorption: Synthetic slate roofing can absorb moisture, which can cause it to deteriorate over time.
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Factors To Consider When Choosing a Roofing Material

When it comes to different roofing materials, there are many options to consider. While asphalt roofing is the most common, other styles offer certain advantages. Here are some of the most important factors to consider when it comes to choosing a roofing material.

Quality and Durability

First and foremost, you should choose a high-quality roofing material that is durable. This ensures you get the roofing protection you need. Look for durable materials that will last at least two to three decades. Ideally, choose the best materials you can afford. This ensures your roof lasts a long time and limits the chances of needing repairs.

Cost

After quality, you should consider the overall roofing cost. Look for the right balance between durability and cost to get the best value on new roofing materials. While economy roofing might seem like the best option, you are more likely to need to replace your roof more frequently.

Aesthetics

A new roof is a great way to increase your curb appeal. Materials like clay and slate add a great deal of character to your home, but they can get expensive. In contrast, classic 3-tab asphalt roofing is inexpensive but does not offer much in the way of looks.

Climate

It’s also important to consider the climate in your area. Different materials are better suited for different climates. For example, metal roofs are best suited for areas with high winds and rain, while clay tiles can be a great option for hot climates.

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