Top 6 Roofing Materials(page 1 of 2)

From wood shake to asphalt shingles, roofing material is an important consideration that contributes to the overall look and style of your home.

CI-GAF-Roofing-exterior-buying-guide-old-world-stone-house_s4x3 Photo courtesy of GAF Roofing

Updating your existing roof allows you to add value to your home and communicate your home's look and feel. While roof framing, preparation and proper installation are always important, the material you choose for your roof can bring the exterior of your home to the next level.

"It's really an opportunity to upgrade your home in terms of look, style and color," says Tom Bollnow, senior director of technical services for the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA).


Roofing Materials and Design Ideas

When choosing roofing materials, consider the following questions.

  • How heavy is this material and will it require special framing?
  • Is the material available in a variety of colors and styles that complement your home?
  • Does the material meet the fire codes in your local area?
  • Are there special installation and maintenance issues to consider?
  • Does this material offer good performance in extreme weather conditions that are common in your area?
  • What is the cost, life span and warranty for this product?

The answers to those questions will help you determine the best choice for your home. There are lots of options for roofing materials available and here is a rundown of some of the most popular ones.

Asphalt Shingles

The most common residential roofing material used in the United States, asphalt shingles are popular because they are economical and easy to install. These shingles can be reinforced with fiberglass or organic materials (cellulose) without changing the appearance of the shingle.

Pros: Asphalt comes in a variety of colors, is widely available and is one of the least expensive materials.

Cons: Asphalt has a shorter life span than other roofing materials, doesn't provide the insulation other materials offer, and the quality varies.

House Styles: Asphalt shingles work with many architectural styles, especially traditional suburban styles.

Cost and Life Span: Prices range from $70 to $120 a square and, if maintained properly, shingles will last 20 to 25 years.

Clay and Concrete Tiles

Terra Cotta Tile Roof Enlarge Photo Photo Courtesy: Scott Womack © 2013 Gibbs Smith, Allure of French & Italian Decor, Betty Lou Phillips

Clay and concrete tiles add texture and elegance to a roof. Genuine flat, ribbed or scalloped clay tiles are extremely durable but also very heavy, and must be installed by a professional. Concrete tiles are versatile and are less expensive than genuine clay, but also have a heavy weight.

Pros: Clay and concrete tiles are long-lasting and non-combustible, and concrete tiles are energy efficient.

Cons: Clay and concrete tiles are expensive, heavy and usually require additional framing.

House Styles: Clay and concrete tiles work well with Mediterranean, Mission, Southwestern and Spanish-style homes.

Cost and Life Span: Prices start around $300 to $500 a square and, if maintained properly, tiles will last around 40 to 50 years.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofs are resistant to extreme weather conditions. Available in two types, panels and shingles, metal roofs come in aluminum, copper, stainless steel and zinc.

"They're sleek, lightweight, long-lasting and recyclable, and something to consider if you're interested in rainwater harvesting," says architect Amy A. Alper.

Pros: Metal roofing is durable, lasts longer than asphalt or wood, and offers high solar reflectance.

Cons: Metal roofing is relatively expensive.

House Styles: Metal looks great on bungalows, cabins, contemporary and cottage-style homes.

Cost and Life Span: Prices usually start around $100 to $300 a square, but some styles can cost $600 to $800 a square. Metal roofing can last 40 to 75 years.

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