Roofing is a part of every building, but most homeowners overlook the importance of it. In fact, you may even forget that the roof is one of the most visible parts of your house! If you want to change the overall look of your property or upgrade your roofing, then you should take a moment to consider all of the options you now have to choose from. Regardless of your budget, there are various roofing materials that will match your aesthetic and your wallet.
Before you even start searching for roof replacement companies, read up on the types of roofing. To help you, we have come up with this complete guide to types of roofing. Let’s begin.
Affordable Residential Roofing Material Options
Throughout the country, reputable roofing companies fulfill customer desires for low-cost roofing that will hold up in all kinds of weather and do a fairly good job of keeping the interior cool. Case in point: asphalt shingles.
All shingles are versatile. Whatever manufacturer you decide to buy from will undoubtedly have dozens of styles and color options, as well as variants in quality and durability.
Nearly 80 percent of homes in America use asphalt shingles, making them the most ubiquitous material. Asphalt shingles contain either organic materials (wood, paper, or cardboard) or fiberglass at the core. Fiberglass is stronger than organic and has a better fire rating. The granules on the shingles are usually made of reflective materials, such as basalt, granite, or volcanic lava.
There are several kinds of asphalt shingles to choose from, some more expensive than others, so be sure to look into which one is right for your home:
The cheapest of all shingle options. 3-tab shingles are not as durable as other asphalt shingle types, and they have extremely low wind resistance. Because of that, 3-tab shingles last around 10-20 years in mild climates but may decay faster in places with more extreme weather.
Designer shingles are ideal for creating a unique look. Such shingles are usually cut to look like some kind of other material, such as wood or slate. Further, designer shingles are stronger than 3-tab shingles and will last much longer. With greater wind and fire resistance, you know you are getting your money’s worth. Expect designer shingles to last around 30 years.
Contact roof replacement companies to see what options are available and receive quotes before buying.
One of the favored shingles for both homeowners and professional roofers everywhere. Despite being more expensive than designer and 3-tab asphalt shingles, the architectural variety is also made of more sturdy materials and is far more durable. Architectural shingles have a wind resistance of around 130 mph, and some are even made with a Class 4 impact rating. Most will last between 25-30 years with proper maintenance.
Mid-Range Residential Roof Types
More expensive than asphalt shingles and MSR but lower than some other heavier materials and innovative technologies, medium-cost roofing is generally more durable but also labor-intensive.
Clay Tile Roofing
Believe it or not, but clay tiles have been used for protecting households since 10,000 BC. Back then, clay tiles were probably not as strong as they are today, but still—that is some track record!
Clay tiles are seen throughout the world, in places like Europe, South America, and Asia. Now, they are growing in popularity throughout America too. Baked molded clay is formed into various shapes, and there are plenty of earth-toned colors to choose from.
Heavy-duty, resistant to fire, and durable, clay tiles are built to last. The only downside is the price.
Clay tiles not what you are looking for? Perhaps you should consider concrete tiles. Often seen as an alternative to asphalt shingles, concrete tiles are a bit more affordable than clay and slate but do not sacrifice strength and durability, either. If you dwell somewhere with a lot of sun exposure or frequent temperature fluctuations, then concrete tiles may be the right kind of roof for you.
Concrete tiles will not crack during freeze-thaw cycles, and they keep your house cooler throughout the summer. That is because more modern concrete tiles are designed to be reflective, enhancing energy efficiency.
One of the reasons for that is the layer of insulation that is essential to installation. Concrete tiles cannot be attached directly to the roof deck. Also, because concrete is porous, it will need to be sealed and maintained to keep it water-tight.
Wooden Shakes and Shingles
Beautiful wooden shakes and shingles can do much for your home’s exterior. The colors and patterns of the natural wood are going to be unique to your roof, so you never have to worry about your home looking cookie-cutter. Anyone who wants to boost curb appeal without spending an extravagant amount of money, wooden shingles or shakes are the best of both worlds.
The two forms—shakes and shingles—are slightly different in design. Machine cut shingles have smoothed edges and are cut uniformly. Shakes, which are handmade, are more rough cut and thick.
The main advantage of wooden shakes is their lifespan of 30-40 years. That makes them last at least 5-10 years longer than asphalt shingles. Plus, being that they are natural, they are an environmentally-friendly choice. Wooden shakes can also be recycled.
Yet, there are a few drawbacks as well. Wooden shakes can be 3-5 times more expensive than their asphalt counterparts, and they do require a lot of maintenance. You will have to perform routine inspections to make sure pests haven’t destroyed the wood. Also, if you have to replace a few shakes or shingles, the color may not be the same, and that can impact the overall look of your home.
Synthetic Slate Tiles
Natural slate looks stunning atop homes, but the weight of the stone makes it impossible for most buildings. That is why synthetic slate is gaining momentum, for it combines the eye-catching colors of slate with the durability of rubber or other polymers and other materials.
Synthetic slate is usually crafted from plastic polymer, asphalt, rubber, and clay, but some styles may even use steel. Because of the ingredients, you can count on synthetic slate tiles that have high resistance to impacts and fire. Many brands have Class 4 ratings for hail damage.
Since synthetic slate is much lighter than regular slate, it is cheaper to install and easy to maintain. You also do not have to worry about needing another layer of tiles or putting too much pressure on the internal structure of the building.
Sure, it might not look totally like natural slate, but it gives you all the appeal for a fraction of the price! Why not see if synthetic slate is right for you?
Zinc, tin, copper, galvanized steel, and aluminum are all the options you have for a metal roof. Though these different metals all cost far more than asphalt shingles, it is a lifetime purchase. Where asphalt shingles may last around 25 years, metal roofing is guaranteed to last 40-70 years. That means you may never have to purchase another roof if you opt for something like a standing seam metal roof.
Metal roofing excels in places where winds are strong. Typically, metal roofing will resist gusts up to 140 mph. Additionally, you will not have to worry about fire or pests. Those who are looking to make their homes more eco-friendly will also like metal roofing since it is recyclable and may reduce energy expenses by 25 percent.
Because of the array of choices, you may find that one type of metal costs twice as much as another (like copper). Depending on the location of the metal and the type used, the overall cost will greatly vary. Be sure to compare the costs of metals to find which one is best for your budget.
High-Cost Residential Roofing
The most expensive types of residential roofing are made of materials guaranteed to last for many years. Or, the materials are costly alone. Either way, you will get what you pay for and so much more. The downside to high-end roofing materials is that only reputable roofing companies with experience and specialty knowledge can install these types of roofs.
There have been many innovations over recent years to make housing more environmentally friendly, especially those in densely packed urban areas. One of the answers has been the invention of green roofing. There are three styles of green roofing:
- Extensive: Shallow soil. Suitable for growing grass, herbs, and small plants, like succulents.
- Semi-Extensive: Deeper soil, allowing for the growth of medium-sized plants, such as small shrubs.
- Intensive: Soil is deep enough to support larger plants and trees.
As mentioned earlier, copper is a type of metal roofing, but it is also one of the most expensive metals that you can use. Beginning in the 18th century, copper has been used for centuries and is prominent in both Europe and the United States. However, copper was ignored by manufacturers and homeowners for a long while in favor of less expensive roofing types. Now, people are waking up to the beauty and resilience of copper roofing.
The greatest advantage of copper is graceful aging. Not only does it last for 100 years, but it will also become more stunning over the years. Copper will gain patina as the metal oxidizes, so the copper tiles or panels will go from orange to green, adding a sophisticated ambiance to your home.
Unlike other metals, copper is also great for complex roofing structures and houses beside the ocean or bay. Salt air will not cause corrosion as easily as steel or aluminum. Virtually maintenance free and recyclable, copper is also eco-friendly.
That brings us to the disadvantages: First, you need a professional roofing company to install copper. Next, the material contracts and expands much more than other types of roofs. This can cause nails to loosen. A skilled roofer will know to install a frame and underlayment to act as a buffer. Be sure to ask your roofer about adding snow guards as well. Lastly, copper can be noisy—sounding more like a tin roof in the rain.
Nothing is like a slate shingle, which is prized for both aesthetics and long lifespan. Were all other roofing types compared to slate on those two grounds alone, the rest would be inferior. Natural stone can withstand the harshest of weather for hundreds of years and will prevent too much heat loss and gain throughout the year. Furthermore, slate is sustainable, natural, and easily recycled. Similar to concrete and clay, slate is noncombustible.
The lifespan of slate tiles that are properly cared for is around 75-100 years. Some older historic homes with slate roofs have their original tiles still. The price of slate is well justified, in that case. You will never have to worry about replacing a slate roof. Just do standard maintenance and repair broken tiles and flashing when you find them.
Of course, due to the weight and expertise required, slate roofing is pricey. It is considered a premium material, and most roofs need to be equipped with support and truss strength in order for slate to be installed. Otherwise, the roof will fail prematurely.
Solar Tile Roofing
The future is now. If you want to be more eco-friendly and energy-efficient, then solar tiles may be the correct choice for you. Although the technology continues to be revised and advanced, solar tiles are the next step from photovoltaic panels; they are also more cost-effective.
Similar to panels, solar tiles use monocrystalline or polycrystalline cells that are linked to circuits that are then connected to your home, giving you energy from the sun. Presently, solar shingles and solar tiles are available. Solar shingles link together much like asphalt shingles, while tiles become a part of the roof, so you don’t need underlayment or anything else.
Solar tiles and shingles both have Class A fire ratings and Class 4 impact ratings. Both can withstand winds up to 130 mph. Tiles produce slightly less energy than shingles, but they also last between 20-40 years. Solar shingles last around 25 years.
Flat Roof Material Options
While flat roofs are more common with commercial buildings, there are some places where residences have flat roofing as well. Here are some options to consider:
Built-Up Roof (BUR)
Another name for BURs is “tar and gravel.” Though these roofs are not as popular as other flat roof types these days, it is still an option for low pitch and flat roofs. BURs are made of several layers. Fabrics are alternated with bitumen several times then topped off with a layer of gravel or rock. The idea is to transform the whole roof into an enormous asphalt shingle. The gravel embedded into the final layer does an excellent job at keeping the roof cool and assists with water evaporation.
There are two main kinds of BURs: Ballast roofing and Tar and Gravel. The difference is in the final layer. With a ballast system, the gravel is loose and is several inches deep. Meanwhile, the Tar and Gravel system seals the gravel with asphalt. The layer is thinner compared to the ballast system, and therefore, lighter.
Built-up roof systems are known for their longevity. Gravel provides adequate protection from sun exposure and heat. The gravel also absorbs impacts. However, the ballast type is prone to losing gravel. BURs usually last around 5 years for every layer, meaning that you can expect a 4-layer BUR to last around 20 years, but roofing with more layers could last 40 years or more.
Single Layer Membrane Roof
Mostly for commercial applications, membrane roofing is a more recent development in roofing technology. You may also see it referred to as a plastomeric roof membrane or elastomeric membrane, depending on the materials used. Single-ply membranes include neoprene, EPDM, chlorinated polyethylene, polymer, TPO/TPE, PVC, and rubber membrane.
The reason it is called single layer or single-ply has to do with the single section of the polymer-based membrane that is used to waterproof the roof. Then, the membrane is fixed into place by either heat, adhesion, or mechanical methods. The membranes are generally sold in rolls and are relatively affordable to install. Depending on the type of single-ply membrane you choose, it may last you up to 50 years.
Having been around since 1964, spray-on roofing has been a go-to for flat roofs for many years. It is a convenient method and delivers high durability and wind resistance. Spray-on roofing has three layers: base foam, top coat, and granule coating. The foam is polyurethane, and the top coat is silicon.
Spray-on roofing is excellent for windy regions since it can withstand a wind uplift of 160 lbs/square inch. The downside is a lack of impact resistance. While you can walk on it for inspections, it will get easily damaged in a hail storm.
When properly maintained, the silicon top layer lasts around 10-20 years. You can add a new layer once the silicone has worn down, prolonging the life of the system for another 20 years or more.
Factors To Consider When Selecting Roofing Materials
Now that you have looked at the different kinds of roofs, it is time to ask yourself some questions about which type is best for you.
- How long are you staying put? Different roofing materials have different lifespans. Choose a roof that is going to best serve the years you plan on spending at your address. For example, if you plan on selling within a few years, you probably do not want to invest in a premium roof type.
- What is the environment like where you live? Think about the weather and other environmental influences. From there, consider where roof types are suited for the task of reflecting heat and dealing with precipitation or high winds.
- What is the shape, style, and pitch of the roof? Some materials can only be used on flat or low pitch roofs while others are designed for higher pitches.
- Do you care about sustainability and recycling? Figure out the best alternatives based on your lifestyle.
- What is your budget? Choose a roof type that does not sacrifice quality for price.
- Do local building codes put restrictions on what you can use? Check before you buy!
Hopefully, the decision about which roof type to select for a roof replacement is a little easier after reading the complete guide to types of roofing. Remember, when you make your choice, you should consider the style of your roof, the environment, and the durability of the materials. Once you have made your choice, contact some trustworthy roofers to do the job. Soon, you will be enjoying a beautiful new roof.
Need more information about different roofing materials? Not sure which one is best for you yet? Why not talk to our expert team? Contact us by filling out the form, and one of our friendly representatives will be in touch.