What sort of roofing options do I have?

See these considerations when deciding what new roof you want.
So you've determined that you need a new roof. That's the easy part. Deciding what kind of roof to install can be a much more difficult decision, due to the variety of roofing materials available.

Key considerations to keep in mind when selecting a new roof:
  1. Durability
  2. Aesthetics
  3. Maintenance
  4. Climate
  5. Budget
  6. Life Expectancy



Asphalt shingles are the most popular choice of roofing material in the United States, covering more than 75% of all residential roofs. There are two types of asphalt shingles - three tab and dimensional. Three tab, or composition, shingles consist of a single layer of shingle material. Dimensional , or architectural, shingles consist of two layers of shingle material, resulting in a three dimensional look. Architectural shingles offer added protection against wind and fire and generally fall in the higher end of the life expectancy range.Asphalt shingles offer several advantages that contribute to their popularity:
  • Durable and require little maintenance
  • Cheaper and easier to install than other roofing materials
  • Wide variety of colors, styles, and shapes
One potential downside of asphalt shingles is their relative life expectancy, which ranges between 20-40 years, depending on the specific product selected.


Wood roofs are often found on historical or traditional homes. There are two types of wood roofs – shingles and shakes. Shingles are more uniform, while shakes are less so, giving them a rustic appearance. Wood roofs are usually cedar, pine, and redwood, with cedar the most popular. Cedar is a more rigid wood, and holds up well in under high wind conditions and hail.While beautiful, wood shingles have some drawbacks:
  • Require more maintenance than other roofing materials
  • Vulnerable to shrinking, warping, or splintering
  • Susceptible to termite infestation and fire (although they can be treated for fire resistance)
  • More expensive than asphalt shingles
Wood shingles can be more durable than asphalt shingles, but the key is proper maintenance. If properly maintained, they have a life expectancy of 20-50 years.


Slate is one of the oldest roofing materials, and is seldom used in new construction. A slate roof is very heavy, which makes it extremely durable but also expensive and difficult to install. Despite these drawbacks, a slate roof is a beautiful complement to a historic home.

Slate roofs do have several advantages:
  • Extremely durable and require little maintenance
  • Life expectancy of 100+ years
  • Fire proof
  • Resistant to mold and insects



Traditional clay tiles are typically seen on homes with a Southwestern, Italian, or Spanish Mission design. Clay tiles are a good choice for southern climates that endure severe hail and wind conditions. They are very heavy and require specific structural support, which increases the price of both materials and installation, making clay tile an expensive choice. On the upside, clay tiles offer many advantages:
  • Durable – withstand extreme weather conditions
  • Life expectancy of 40-50 years
  • Resistant to fire, rotting, and insects
  • Enhanced circulation

Although clay tiles are expensive, they can be an appropriate choice for challenging climate conditions and for homes with specific design style.


Concrete tile has the same performance advantages and high cost of clay tile, but offers a wide variety of style and color choices.


Metal roofs are typically made of aluminum, steel, or copper alloys. Although metal roofs currently make up a small percentage of the residential roofs in the United States, their popularity is increasing due to their many benefits. They offer excellent protection against high winds, snow, rain, and fire. Metal roofs are also lightweight, weighing a fraction of asphalt and tile roofs. Another benefit is that they can be designed to look like wood shakes, standard shingles, and tile, giving the homeowner many style options.Summary of benefits:
  • Durable – protect against high winds, hail, snow and rain
  • Life expectancy of 50+ years
  • Fire resistant
  • Wide range of style and color options
  • Lower heating & air conditioning costs by reflecting heat from the sun

Metal roofs fall in the middle of the cost continuum, being more expensive than asphalt shingles but less costly than wood and tile roofs.

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