Roofing Materials Q&A

roofing materials

General information on choosing roofing materials for your home or business is below. Once you've selected materials, don't cut corners on the quality of roofing contractor to install your roof. Select a roofing contractor with strong ties to your community and who guarantees their work. Prescreened roofing companies can be found in your hometown by entering your city or town to the right.

Selecting Roofing Material for Your Home or Business

Cost, durability, and appearance are all factors to consider when choosing roofing materials. The best roofing system for your home depends on which of these factors you weigh more heavily. The following roofing materials are commonly used for residential "steep slope" roofs.

Asphalt Shingles - The most common roof covering across the U.S. is asphalt shingles. The major advantage of an asphalt shingle roof is it's relatively low initial cost. Shingles vary significantly in quality and warranty, so check with your roofer for your options. A typical asphalt shingle roof may last about 20 years.

Metal Roofing - Metal roofs are becoming increasingly popular among homeowners, especially among homeowners in warmer climates. Metal roofing costs significantly more upfront than asphalt shingles ($100 to $600 "per square" or 100 sq. ft.). But the costs of the roof over the life of the roof may be competitive because metal roofs last significantly longer and may lower annual utility bills because they reflect heat very well.

Tile Roofing - Made from clay or concrete, tile roofs are extremely durable with warranties typically covering 50 to 75 years. Tile roofing is heavy, so if you are replacing a lightweight material with tile, be sure that your roof supports are strong enough to bear the weight. If not, reinforcing your roof structure can add significant cost to installing a tile roof.

Slate Roofs - Slate roofing is also very durable and looks great, but also costs more than other roofing materials. Slate is quarried in the Northeast United States and a variety of colors and grades are available.

More on Roofing Materials

Residential roof systems have several basic components:

  • Roof structure - trusses and roof rafters that provide the basic support system for the sheathing.
  • Sheathing - plywood particle board or wafer-board sheathing that is fastened to the rafters to cover the home.
  • Flashing - typically sheet metal that is installed into the valleys and joints of the roof to prevent leaks.
  • Roof covering - shingles, metal, tile, or slate and the underlayment material that covers and protects the sheathing from the elements.

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