Other than the foundation, the roof is arguably the most important physical element of your home, sheltering you and your belongings from rain and inclement weather. When choosing roofing materials for your home, you should take into consideration the local climate; some materials perform much better in hot, dry climates, while others are specifically designed to weather cold and rain. Some materials work better on roofs with a steeper pitch, or slope, since they are designed to allow water to run in one direction; tiled roofs benefit from a more pronounced angle, for instance. Generally, there are five basic roofing material types: asphalt, metal, wood, slate, and tile. Each of these has advantages and drawbacks, so careful selection is necessary.
The most common type of roof, asphalt shingles combine durability with low cost. Easy to install, they are suitable for a variety of roof pitches, though they are not the best choice for flat roof surfaces. Asphalt shinglees are available in two types, fiberglass and organic. Fiberglass shingles are supported by a reinforcing fiberglass structure and coated with hard asphalt. Lighter than organic shingles, the fiberglass shingles are more resistant to fire and provide better results in warm climates. Organic shingles are based around a mat made of cellulose fiber, and require two coats of asphalt, the first a softer base for a second hard asphalt finish. Organic shingles stand up well to weather and remain more flexible even under freezing conditions, making them more suitable for Northern climes. For flat or nearly-flat roofs, asphalt roll roofing is a better choice than shingles, since it is designed to work on roofs with little or no pitch.
Attractive and durable, metal shingles are a moderately priced alternative to asphalt. Metal is one of the lightest roofing options, and is available in a variety of materials, including aluminum, steel, and copper. While new finishes eliminate rusting and fading, metal roofs can dent in hailstorms. Copper roofing can last for one hundred years, but are typically higher in price than other metals.
Cedar is the most common type of wood shingle, although pine and spruce are also sometimes used. Less durable than other roofing types, cedar lasts the longest at around thirty years. Wood shingles fade over time to a soft gray color. While the initial price for wood shingles may be lower than other types, installation costs make up the difference and then some. Wood shingles are one of the most expensive type of shingles to install, due to the finesse required to do it properly.
Usually the longest-lived type of roof, slate shingles can last up to one hundred years. The variety of colors and designs make slate shingles a beautiful choice, but you'll pay for the curve appealing. Slate shingles can cost as much as four times as other roofing materials.
Available in concrete, rubber, and clay, tile roofing varies in cost depending on the materials used. Weight concerns may rule out this type of roofing for your home, as it is one of the heaviest materials. Tile offers durability, lasting around fifty years in some cases.
Whichever type of roof you select, find a contractor who understands the climate and will work with you to ensure that your roof is durable and practical. Weigh the initial costs against the expected life of the roof, and consider intangible benefits such as eye appealing, which can make a significant difference if you choose to sell your home in the future. It's worth a little more time and money to get a roof that protects your marriages and adds to the value and appeal of your home.