Building your home is an exciting but daunting experience. After laying the foundation and having the framing of your soon-to-be house, the next step is to install your roof. As it protects you against the outdoor elements, choosing the roofing material for your home can be a frustrating decision you need to make. With various roofing options to choose from, it can be challenging to find the right one that fits your home’s aesthetics and functionalities.
With that said, this article would make it easier for you. Provided below is a breakdown of the different roofing materials available, highlighting their benefits and weaknesses so you can choose the right one for your home’s needs.
1. Asphalt Composite Shingles
Being the most common material offered by roofing companies like Smith Roofing and others, asphalt composite shingles are preferred for their efficiency across several climates and environmental conditions.
Its upfront cost is generally low, depending on your area. Asphalt shingles can resist water and can be designed to resemble wood, tile, and slate shingles. It’s easy to install, maintain, and repair, making it an excellent option for the basic American first-time homeowner.
They do, however, have a shorter lifespan than most materials and require replacement after about two decades.
2. Slate Shingles
Slate shingles are a mainstay roofing material option for homeowners who accept only the finest. This roofing material features timeless beauty and comes in numerous shades and colors with pleasing textures. This is why most historical buildings and luxurious homes choose it as their roof.
Genuine slate roofing is made from thin sheets of real stone that can last for centuries. It’s no wonder why it’s called the ‘forever roof,’ outliving homeowners and generations. Since slate tends to cleave off thin sheets, this material is easy to quarry, making it suitable for roofing. Plus, its longevity also makes it eco-friendly since a single slate roof lifespan equates to 3-4 roofs being replaced and thrown in landfills in its time. Slate roofs are entirely fireproof and can withstand snow, high winds, heavy rains; also, they don’t grow mold or fungus.
With such significant advantages, you should expect a slate roof to be expensive. While it’s durable, slate shingles tend to break easily when hit with force from hail and other debris. Repairing the damage can be pretty costly too, especially that you can’t go the DIY route. Slate shingles will require highly specialized skills to install and repair. However, if you’re interested in making a life-long roofing investment, then slate shingles will be your best choice.
3. Rubber Slate Tiles
If you’re looking for a greener, safer, and more lightweight alternative to authentic slate shingles, rubber slates are a good option. They’re convincing stand-ins for natural slate tiles that it’s virtually impossible to distinguish from the real ones. This material is constructed from engineered polymers combined with recycled rubbers and plastic.
Synthetic slate tiles are fire-resistant and are effective against external fire exposures. They’re also quite lightweight, making them suitable for houses that can’t support the heaviness of natural slate. They’re also cheaper than real slate and can be trimmed to make custom adjustments to roofs. Although synthetic slate tiles may not be as durable as real stones, rubber tiles usually come with a long warranty of up to 50 years.
4. Rolled Roofing
This type of roofing material is preferred for low-slope residential roofs and out-buildings such as sheds, garages, shops, and other utilitarian structures. A rolled roofing features long rolls of asphalt- and mineral-saturated material topped with mineral granules. They come in large strips of thin roofing rolls of about 36 ft. long by 36 in. wide that are easy to cut and customize as needed.
However, it comes with several disadvantages. You don’t get a lot of color choices; also, it’s not that appealing and it only lasts about 5-8 years. Still, rolled roofing provides a convenient, fast, and cheap way of covering sloped-roof buildings such as home workshops where aesthetics isn’t that important.
5. Wood Shingles And Shakes
Do you want something appealing with a rustic aesthetic? Go with wood shingles and shakes. Wood roofs are among the most attractive roofing materials, making them a popular option for luxury houses. Wood shingles and shakes are generally manufactured from 4 kinds of trees— redwood, red cedar, pine, and cypress. While both are made from natural wood, there’s a difference between wood shingles and shakes.
Shingles are usually thin, wedge-shaped wood slabs produced by precise sawing. This offers an even and clean look to your roof. Shakes, on the other hand, are produced by splitting wood and features thicker wedges with rougher textures. These rough edges somewhat give a unique rustic look that many homeowners desire. It offers a lot more dimension, particularly when layered together.
While properly installed wood shingles or shakes can last between 25-40 years, they’re a poor choice in high-moisture areas as well as places prone to wildfires. The good news is some wood shingles are treated to be fire-resistant, preventing premature decay in some climates. Some wood materials like pine are also treated with preservatives to keep the pesky insects and early decaying and rotting.
6. Built-Up Roofing (BUR)
One of the oldest material choices for flat roofs or low pitch roofs, built-up roofing systems has been here for over 100 years. Sometimes called tar and gravel roofs, a BUR system is constructed with several layers of roof felt saturated with asphalt. The felt is applied in overlapping layers, forming a barrier of 2-4 layers of thick material. Then, a coating of finely crushed stone is embedded in the hot tar over the top, creating impenetrable and durable roofing.
It can have a different number of layers or plies, depending on what you need. BUR systems are often applied directly to roof decks or insulation. They’re great for warmer climates and can be walked on without any damage. On average, they have a lifespan of 15-30 years, but some well-maintained BUR systems can last up to 40 years.
7. Metal Roofing
Metal roofing is one of the highest-performing roofing materials and is commonly available in standing seam metal roof options. This type of metal roof features steel or aluminum panels meeting in interlocking raised seams to keep the moisture out.
Metal roofs are particularly getting more popular in regions with heavy snowfalls or areas at risk of wildfires since this material is completely fireproof. They’re long-lasting, having an average lifespan of 30-50 years, but some are known to last up to 75 years. And when metal roofs wear out, they’re fully recyclable. This type of roofing material is lightweight and a good heat conductor, reflecting sunlight to keep summer midday heat to a minimum.
However, they also have their downsides. While the sound of light rain falling on a metal roof can be soothing for some, it can become disrupting and loud during extreme weather. Also, metal roofing isn’t recommended for areas prone to hail since it can potentially dent if large hail starts falling.
8. Metal Shingles
If you want the look of traditional shingles but want the durability of metal, you’ll be glad to know that aluminum and steel shingles and shakes are available now. You’ll also find copper and zinc shingles to choose from.
Made from stamped metal and finished with quality mineral granules or baked-on coating, metal shingles can be fabricated to look like wooden shakes, traditional asphalt shingles, or even clay or slate tiles. Thus, they offer the traditional aesthetic appearance of shingles with less cost and a longer lifespan. In fact, metal shingles, when properly installed, can last between 30-50 years.
9. Membrane Roofing
Membrane roofing is an alternative choice to the BUR system, and it’s suitable for low-pitch or flat roofs. For this roofing material, you have several options, including:
- Polymer-modified bitumen
- Polyvinyl chloride (PVC)
- Ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM)
- Chlorosulfonated polyethylene sheets and chlorinated polyethylene
These thermoplastic roof membrane materials have high-temperature tolerance and offer a unique look. Their durability is also something not to be taken lightly—withstanding tears, punctures, oils, chemical spills, bacterial growth, weather, and standing water. When properly installed and maintained, membrane roofing can last up to 20-35 years.
Membrane roofing is also energy-efficient, thanks to its heat-resistant properties. They usually come in white, black, or grey, making them highly reflective and repelling UV rays away from your home. As a result, your energy and cooling expenses are lowered.
10. Clay Tiles
Clay tile roofing has this unique rustic architectural appeal, exuding authenticity in any way you see it. This kind of roofing is made from earthen clays molded into interlocking or rolled shapes and baked to hardness. They’re usually left unglazed, featuring the traditional reddish-orange color. They can also be glazed and fired to form ceramic roofing tiles.
Clay roofing is most suitable for hot areas or where salty air is present such as those in the desert or coastal regions. They can also be used in colder areas if they’re made to withstand the freeze-thaw process.
Perhaps one of the most long-lasting roofing options you can find, clay tiles are known to last over a century. They are, however, quite expensive to install and maintain. The potential costs for any clay tile repair can be costly if it gets damaged by extreme weather conditions. Also, take note that clay shingles are much heavier than regular metal or asphalt shingle roofs. So, make sure your home can withstand the extra weight before opting for a clay tile.
11. Concrete Tiles
An alternative to clay tile, concrete tile roofing shares the same installation techniques and advantages. This option is a standard sand-mix concrete molded into roof tiles and colored to whatever desired hues. It’s a pretty common choice for roofing since it’s beautiful, economical, and long-lasting. Most roofs built over a century ago still have their original concrete roofs intact.
Concrete roofs are resistant to high wind and hail damage. In fact, most concrete tiles are tested to perform against winds that would otherwise rip off other types of residential shingles. Also, the seamless design of this roofing material means it can resist leaks and water damage.
In terms of look, concrete tiles can be made to resemble wood shakes, rolled clay tiles, and more. It’s also a lot cheaper and more lightweight than clay tiles.
12. Green Roofs
For eco-friendly homeowners, green roofs are a great choice. Moss is typically a bad thing for your roof. However, when properly planned for, these green living materials can provide effective roofing material for wet areas that also give back to earth.
With this unusual kind of roofing, a green roof, or sometimes called ‘living roof,’ is loved for its stormwater management. Green roofs can filter and absorb rainwater, reducing runoff into sewers and improving water quality. They’re also great noise reducers and they minimize air pollution. They help in creating habitats for wildlife, not to mention that they offer excellent energy efficiency. They can keep your home warm during cool seasons and cool during the warmer months.
In addition, a green roof can protect you against UV radiation and extreme fluctuations in temperatures, which cause other roofing materials to shorten their lifespan. Its uniqueness can make your home stand out and inspire others to live green.
Such roofs, however, will require more significant investments to make an environmental statement. Also, it’ll need regular maintenance to maximize its functionality and lifespan. Lastly, most building codes don’t allow for this kind of roof. Make sure to check with your local building department before having this type of roofing.
And there you have it. At the end of the day, the roofing material for your new home will come down to your personal preferences, requirements, and budget. While certain roofing materials can provide distinct benefits you need to take advantage of, it all boils down to what you can afford and what you want. Consider the ideas mentioned here as you plan and prepare for your house.