What Is The Best Roofing Material For Your Home?
Jamie Johnson7-Minute Read
UPDATED: August 31, 2022
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Your roof is one of the most important investments you’ll make in your home. A solid roof protects your home from extreme weather elements like heavy wind and hail.
The color you choose for your roof can affect your home's temperature. And installing a beautiful new roof can improve your home’s curb appeal and boost its resale value.
But, choosing the best roofing material can be challenging for anyone who isn’t well-versed in the options. Let’s talk about different roofing materials available and how to make the best choice for your home.
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Roofing Factors To Consider
There are pros and cons with every type of roofing material and no single option that’s best for every home. However, there are certain factors every homeowner should consider when picking roofing materials for their home.
Since every home’s style is unique, the best type of roofing for each property will be different. Let’s look at a few different factors you should consider when evaluating roofing materials.
A roof’s pitch is how steep it is. The pitch helps determine how quickly water or snow will fall off the roof. You could have a completely flat roof with minimal slope or a roof that’s so steep it’s practically vertical.
Depending on the style of your house, your roof’s pitch may make certain roofing materials more appropriate than others. The roof's pitch is expressed as a ratio and is calculated in the same way as the slope of a line.
The ratio displays the vertical height of the roof in relation to its length. So, if the pitch of a roof is 4:12, that means the roof rises by 4 feet for every 12 feet of horizontal distance.
Generally, certain types of roofing material is recommended for a specific pitch range. Low and relatively flat roofs tend to have a ratio of 1:12 – 3:12. If the pitch of your roof falls into this range, you must be more careful about the type of roofing material you choose.
A lower pitch roof will usually require a sheet-type product to minimize any water migration to the underside of the roof. In comparison, you’ll have much more flexibility on materials if you have a higher, steeper roof.
Climate is a critical consideration when choosing your roofing material and your needs can change based on your location. For example, if you live in a part of the country that experiences extreme temperature changes, your roofing material will need to be able to expand and contract without cracking or warping. Those living in colder environments may have to consider the average snowfall in their area.
Many homes in the Southwest have roofs made of clay, concrete tile, or slate because these materials are resistant to higher temperatures. In comparison, areas that experience four seasons often have roofs made of asphalt shingles due to their versatility to work in a wide variety of environmental conditions.
Metal roofs work well in colder climates because they can withstand large amounts of snow. Slate and cedar roofs are also a good option for homes that experience colder weather.
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Another important consideration to make when looking for your ideal roofing material is weight. It may come as no surprise that all roofing materials are not created equally. Some are more durable or better suited for a particular environment, and some homeowners may simply lean toward a certain aesthetic. However, before you commit to a material it’s a good idea to consider if your home can handle its weight.
Asphalt shingles are on the low end of the weight scale and are the most common roofing material used. This lends itself toward being a very safe choice as many homes are built with this material in mind. Clay and concrete tiles, on the other hand, are considerably heavier, concrete in particular can weigh as much as two times that of asphalt shingles.
Because of the variability in weight, it’s best to consult a professional when determining if certain materials are a viable option for your house. A structural engineer can assess your home structure and determine how much weight it can hold.
Durability Of Materials
Replacing your roof is no easy task. Picking a durable, long lasting material will reduce your overall maintenance costs and increase the length of time between replacement.
Here is an overview of the expected lifespan of the most common roofing materials:
- Asphalt shingles: 15 – 30 years
- Concrete tile: 30 – 50 years
- Cedar shingles: 15 – 30 years
- Metal: 40 – 60 years
- Clay tile: 50 – 70 years
- Slate: 50 – 70 years
As you’re considering the durability of each material, you should also look at its longevity in relation to the cost. For instance, asphalt and cedar roof shingles may not last as long as others, but they’re cheaper than metal, clay and slate roofing.
Style And Aesthetics
Different roofing materials can impact the appearance and curb appeal of a home. It may be a good idea to look around your neighborhood and see what similar homes have done before choosing a new roof material.
Your roof needs to be functional, but the way it impacts the aesthetic of your home matters. Therefore, when looking at roofing materials, you should consider how each option complements your house's architectural style and color.
However, if your primary concern is cost and durability, you can focus on color instead of architectural style. That way, you’ll still achieve an aesthetically pleasing look.
Some homeowners associations dictate the home roof types that homeowners can have in the neighborhood. So you may want to consult with your HOA before you begin having work done on your roof. And if you install a roof that doesn’t fit the HOA’s guidelines, you may get hit with a fine or have to replace the roof altogether.
The Types Of Roofing Materials
Now that you understand what goes into choosing a new roof for your home, here are some of the most common roofing materials you can choose from.
Asphalt shingles are the most common types of roofing material — they cover 75% of homes in the United States. Asphalt shingles are visibly appealing and come in a wide range of colors and styles. They’re incredibly durable and can withstand extreme weather conditions.
Asphalt shingles are the most affordable roofing material available and are a good option for anyone looking for something eco-friendly.
Metal roofing usually comes in vertical panels, and it’s one of the most expensive roofing materials available. However, it’s incredibly durable and can last 50 years without needing major repairs. And its minimalist aesthetic makes metal roofing an ideal choice for modern and contemporary-style houses.
Metal roofing may be a good choice for homeowners who regularly experience extreme weather conditions, like snow and ice. And you can install it directly onto your existing roof.
Slate shingles are common in areas that experience a lot of rainfall since they are waterproof and resistant to mold and fungus. If properly installed and well-maintained, slate shingles can last up to 70 years.
However, the weight can be problematic for some roof support structures, and the tiles can be easily broken when stepped on. But slate is a good choice for anyone concerned with the appearance of their roof, and it may increase the resale value of your home.
Clay tiles are a more expensive and more durable roofing option. The material is made from terracotta clay, which means it’s eco-friendly, energy-efficient and fire-resistant.
With their distinctive red, earthy hue, clay tiles tend to be found in Southwest, pueblo-style houses. However, clay tiles are heavy and shouldn’t be installed without checking with a structural engineer, as they must be reinforced with roof framing.
Concrete tiles are fairly inexpensive, but installing them can be pricey since the weight requires additional roof framing. Like clay, concrete tiles are long-lasting and energy-efficient since they reflect instead of absorbing sunlight. They’re suitable for a range of architectural styles, as they can be designed to imitate more traditional roofing materials.
Green Or Living Roofing
Green roofs are also known as living roofs because all or part of them is covered by vegetation. These roofs can minimize stormwater runoff and protect wildlife by creating a safe habitat for a variety of species.
Green roofs are a good choice for homeowners looking to make their homes as eco-friendly as possible. The installation is expensive because it requires a reinforced roof with a rubber subbase to support the weight and an irrigation system.
Synthetic roofing is made of recycled plastic or rubber and is meant to imitate the look of other roofing materials, like slate, concrete and clay. Since synthetic materials are lighter, their installation is easier and more affordable. However, it’s unclear how durable synthetic roofing actually is.
Wood Shakes Or Shingles
Wood shingles or shakes may be inexpensive to purchase and install, but, much like asphalt, they don’t last nearly as long as other roofing materials. Cedar roofs are an attractive option that you can find in Cape Cod-style houses. However, as these roofs age, they can turn a dark gray color, which is why some homeowners avoid them.
How To Choose The Best Roofing Materials For Your Home
When you’re trying to determine the best material for your roof, you want to start by outlining your priorities. Are you looking for something aesthetically pleasing, or do you need something that will hold up in extreme weather conditions?
From there, you can take the following steps:
- Think about your budget
- Pay attention to the warranty on the roofing materials
- Consider the types of severe weather in the area
- Consult with an experienced roofing contractor
- Think about the amount of maintenance needed
The Bottom Line
If you’re wondering what is the best roofing material, you may want to seek the opinion of a professional contractor, structural engineer, or roofing company in your area. If you’re building a new house, your architect can also help you decide what type of roofing material is best for your situation.
If you’re still deciding how to finance your new roof, you might want to consider a cash-out refinance, a popular financing option for homeowners with significant home equity. Why not reinvest the money you’ve built up in your home by making valuable home improvements? Get a cash-out-refinance today.
Fund your renovations with a cash-out refinance.
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