Your roof is the main line of defense that your home has against the elements. Your roof will keep out water, pests, and plays a hugely important role in insulating your home throughout the year.
Different types of roofing materials will have their own strengths and weaknesses and will be better suited for specific climates and needs. The type of roofing material that you choose also plays a huge role in the appearance of your home's exterior. Whether you are replacing an existing roof or installing a new roof on a new home, you'll want to choose a material that balances those practical benefits while still boosting the curb appeal of your property.
Read on for an overview of the different types of roofing materials available, and the pros and cons of each.
Asphalt shingles are one of the most common types of roofing materials you can find. This is largely due to their light weight, low cost, relatively long lifespan, and ease of installation. There are two main variants of asphalt shingles that you should be aware of.
Three-tab shingles are the default type of shingle that you'll see on most residential homes. They are widely available, can be installed yourself, and are the most affordable roofing option you can find.
They come in a range of colors, letting you match your roofing to the siding already on your home. They create a flat and uniform appearance on your roof.
However, three-tab shingles are not the most durable option on the market. Their light weight means that they can be picked up with the wind, and they will eventually curl or break as they age and are exposed to varied weather conditions. Asphalt itself can soften in hot temperatures, which can leave them more susceptible to damage in the summer.
Still, if properly installed and maintained, you can assume that your asphalt roof can last up to 25 years before it needs to be replaced. Longer-lasting and more durable variants do exist, which have fiberglass integrated with the asphalt.
In contrast, architectural shingles are thicker, usually being made out of several layers of asphalt that are bonded together. This creates a more textured appearance for your roof. They are also cut in varied shapes, resembling the shape of clay tiles or wooden shakes instead of taking the flatter appearance of their three-tab counterpart.
Architectural shingles are more expensive, since they use more material and require more labor to make. However, they make up for this higher price point by offering greater durability and wind resistance. Again, variants with integrated do exist, which can help extend the lifespan of your shingles even further.
Clay roofing tiles act much like asphalt shingles do, even down to the way they are layered over each other to create a leak-proof surface. However, clay itself has a few distinctive characteristics that it lends to your home, most notably heat resistance.
While asphalt shingles can soften in hotter environments, clay tiles are immune to heat damage. They also do not conduct heat well, which can help keep your home cool. This is why clay roofs are so popular in the American Southwest and Florida, but not as common in the rest of the country.
One of the main drawbacks of using clay tiles for your roof is their weight. Unless your home was constructed with a clay roof in mind, it may be unable to hold up the roof itself without expensive reinforcements being installed. This can drive up the cost of installation, and can create a huge disruption within the interior of your home as construction is being done.
Wooden shingles provide a rustic appearance to the outside of your home. Because they are made out of wood, you can have them stained to customize their appearance. It's actually recommended that you stain your wooden shingles because the stain will prevent water from being absorbed by your shingles.
Beyond the aesthetic appeal, wooden shingles are also great at insulating your home. This can help keep your home comfortable (and your energy bills low) in colder climates.
Wooden shakes are shingles that are split instead of cut on one end. This gives them a rougher appearance, and not all shakes will be the same shape as a result. Shakes are also thicker, which can provide more insulation value to your home.
Since shakes are cut by hand and are thicker (thus using more material), they tend to come in at a higher cost than regular wooden shingles.
The main downside of wooden shingles and shakes is that they are not quite as durable as their more modern counterparts. Wood is susceptible to pest infestations, rotting and warping from moisture, and splintering from blunt trauma. You'll want to prioritize specific types of wood, like cedar, which contain natural oils that repel insects.
Wood shingles are also not fire-resistant, which can be a risk if you live in an area of Virginia that has experienced wildfires in the past.
Slate is a type of natural stone that is highly durable. In fact, slate roofs are known to last decades before they need to be replaced - with hard slate roofs lasting longer than 100 years in some cases.
Due to its high durability and resistance to moisture and other environmental factors, slate requires no special maintenance. All you'll have to do is clear away twigs and leaves which may fall on your roof.
Another thing to note about slate shingles is that they are recyclable. Old slate tiles can be reused for other paved or tiled surfaces, which means that the environmental impact of a slate roof is quite low. You can even source your slate roof from recycled sources when installing a new roof on your home.
Like clay roofs, the heavy weight of slate shingles means that your roof needs to be reinforced. Installing slate on a roof that is unable to support it can lead to deformation. This can cause water to pool on your roof, making a leak and interior water damage more likely, or even contribute to a partial roofing collapse.
Further, slate roofing tends to be on the more expensive side. On average, it can cost over $10,000 to install a slate roof.
Metal roofing is a broad category. Metal roofing can be divided into the type of metal used and its construction style. Metal roofing can either come in shingles, similar to the materials mentioned above, or in large panels.
Metal roofs all benefit from being particularly durable. They can withstand a range of weather conditions without becoming damaged, and will not rot or warp with water exposure. Further, the reflective nature of some metal roofs can help keep your home cool during the summer months, reducing your energy bills.
One common complaint with metal roofing is the noise that they can create when it rains. You want to make sure that your roofing is properly insulated and not installed over an open frame for this reason. Some metal panels and shingles have insulation installed on the inside-facing side, which can help muffle the noise with no extra work on your part.
Metal roofing panels with standing seams have raised ridges where each panel meets each other. The fasteners that hold the panels together are covered as the panels overlap, preventing rust and damage. This increases the overall lifespan of your metal roof while reducing maintenance and the risk of leaks.
You should also note that since there are fewer points where roofing panels have to be secured to the roof, installation can be done much quicker.
Metal roofing shingles are a great way to copy the appearance of other roofing materials, while still enjoying the practical benefits of metal. Metal shingles are also easier and less expensive to repair and replace in the event they get damaged in the future.
Aluminum is an extremely popular metal used for roofing purposes, largely because of its affordable price point and resistance to rust. Aluminum is able to withstand moisture and general weather exposure without corroding or otherwise breaking down.
Aluminum roofing is also lighter weight than other types of metal roofing. This helps speed up the actual installation process, keeping labor costs lower. Aluminum roofing is also easily recyclable, and you can source your new roof from sustainable sources.
The one major downside of aluminum roofing is that it is a more flexible metal. This can lead to denting, which can be a concern if you have trees that overhang your roof or have experienced hail in the past. Of course, you can choose a higher gauge aluminum for your roof to help prevent this from happening, though that will naturally increase the material cost of your roof.
Galvanized steel is another type of metal roofing that is prized for its durability. As a harder metal, galvanized steel is more resistant to the denting that can sometimes affect aluminum roofing.
Galvanized refers to the process of coating the steel with zinc, which acts as a barrier against the development of rust. Over time, as rain and weather wear down your roof, that layer of zinc will erode. Once this happens, rust will be able to set in and spread over your roof.
Zinc roofing, as already mentioned, is immune to rusting. In fact, it is highly resistant to damage in general. What is notable about zinc is its ability to "self-heal" and cover-up minor scratches and marks that can develop.
As zinc roofing ages and is exposed to water, it will develop a light gray or blue patina. You are also able to buy zinc that has already developed that patina in some cases.
Pure zinc roofs are not as common as other types of metal roofing materials, which can reduce the amount of choice and flexibility you have with your budget when picking out your roofing.
Copper roofing is a status symbol. The high material cost associated with copper means that it is the furthest thing from a budget-friendly option.
Copper is naturally resistant to rust, like aluminum. This makes it a low-maintenance roofing option. However, copper will develop a patina as it ages and is exposed to the weather.
The patina takes on a greenish hue (the same thing that happened to the Statue of Liberty) with time. You can prevent this from developing if you regularly seal your copper roof, though this will greatly increase the amount of maintenance that you will have to do on your roof.
Choosing between all of the above roofing materials can seem like a daunting task. However, keep in mind that there is no right or wrong answer. Two homeowners next to each other may opt for different roofing options simply because they have different budgets and needs, not because one type of roofing is inherently better than another.
Further, Virginia's climate is moderate trending to the hotter side, which means that no particular roofing material is disqualified because of its suitability to a specific type of weather.
Are you in the Roanoke, VA area and looking to repair or replace your existing roof? Our full-service team is extremely experienced working with all types of roofing materials. Contact us today to book a free estimate!