Although often overlooked, a roof is one of the most critical elements of your home. If you’re in the market to replace an old roof, or planning to build a new one, you have several common roofing types to choose from. Here’s what you need to consider when comparing four popular roofing choices.
Easy to work with, modern asphalt shingles come in a wide variety of colors and styles. The traditional three-tab asphalt shingle – a form of strip asphalt shingles – still outsells newer architectural asphalt shingles, a thicker, heavier shingling that provides a rich, sculptured look to your roof. Premium asphalt shingles, sometimes referred to as laminated shingles, are distinctive in appearance. These shingles may look like “old world” shingles such as shake or slate. Premium shingles are generally more energy efficient and offer longer warranties (typically anywhere from 5 to 50 years depending on the asphalt shingle style).
- Benefits: The advantages of asphalt shingles as a group include low initial cost, ease of installation and repair, fire resistance and the fact that they are DIY friendly. Additionally, if only one shingle is damaged or missing, you can generally perform a spot repair rather than replacing the entire roof. Some asphalt shingles offer mold, moss and algae resistance, and you can coat asphalt with treatments to seal and protect it.
- Drawbacks: Asphalt is generally a short-lived roofing material. It also requires a lot of maintenance and is environmentally unfriendly, with premium asphalt shingles more efficient than the others.
- Conclusion: While a good value, if you don’t want to repair or replace shingles torn in storms or replace the roofing in the coming years, asphalt may not be the choice for you.
- Benefits: With a typical life expectancy of at least 50 to 100 years, chances are good your metal roof will outlive most any other roof around. Metal is also fire retardant, so you’ll never have to worry about any fire spreading to your home via the roof. Lightweight, with a variety of colors and styles, metal roofing is also environmentally friendly since it’s energy efficient and recyclable. You can also install metal roofing over existing roofs, eliminating the need to tear off the existing material.
- Drawbacks: Metal roofing is expensive. A low-end metal roofing product is at least twice as expensive as asphalt and most other roofing choices, and at the top end it may be four times as much – generally more expensive than any other selection but slate stone. Metal is also more difficult to install, which may discourage DIY homeowners. Some metal roofs may require periodic painting.
- Conclusion: Because it is wind, storm and damage resistant, metal roofing is superior to most roofing products in terms of protection and energy savings. While more expensive initially, it will save money over time.
Typically made of cedar, wood roofing includes both wood shakes and wood shingles. What’s the difference? A shake is rougher, thicker, and generally lasts longer. A shingle, on the other hand, is smoother, thinner, and more vulnerable to damage.
- Benefits: In addition to a fairly good life expectancy, wood roofing is generally considered easy to maintain and repair. Wood roofing also allows you to choose nontraditional patterns such as V-cut and fish-scale patterns.
- Drawbacks: Wood roofing costs more than asphalt, although less than some other choices. Wood shakes and shingles can also be time-consuming. Plan to inspect your roof at least once a year and to apply a preservative every few years to maintain your roof in the best condition. Wood is not fire resistant and it’s vulnerable to storm damage.
- Conclusion: Nothing beats wood in appearance, and a wood roof will age beautifully. If you live in a very humid area where mold is likely to grow on the wood or in an area vulnerable to fires, wood may not be the best choice. Some areas even ban wood roofs.
You may have seen a concrete tile roof and never even realized it. With a variety of colors and styles, a concrete tile roof (sometimes called cement tile) may even look like it was made from slate or clay, without the weight those choices entail.
- Benefits: No doubt about it, concrete roofs are tough. Hail won’t dent it, and winds won’t blow the concrete away. Concrete tile also helps insulate the roof and may last longer than 30 years. During its life you can expect little to no maintenance.
- Drawbacks: Concrete tiles are expensive – at least three times greater than the cost of asphalt and comparable to the more expensive metal choices – and difficult to install. Professional installation is recommended.
- Conclusion: If the cost isn’t prohibitive, a concrete tile roof may be the best choice for you.
When comparing roofing options, balance the cost, vulnerabilities and desirable features of each in order to select the roofing material that best suits your situation.