Eight Common Roofing Materials

When people decide to replace the roof on their home, they often only consider replacing the previous roofing type. However before calling a contractor, the careful homeowner should be aware that there are eight types of roofing that are commonly used in residential construction and all can be added to an existing home.

Asphalt shingles

Asphalt shingles are the most common type of residential roofing in North America. Varying widely in color, durability, and style, homeowners often favor asphalt for its low initial cost. Easy to work with, most homeowners can do their own basic repairs.

Wood shingles

Wood shingles are typically made of cedar and are considered to add a rustic or traditional appearance to a home. Wood shingles can last longer than many other types of roofing, but wood shingles also require more extensive upkeep than other varieties. Plan on examining and cleaning your wood shingles once a season and applying a preservative once every 3-5 years if you want to keep your roof in excellent condition.

Vertical metal roofing

Vertical metal roofing has become popular for its durability and reasonable cost. Although more expensive than asphalt and some wood options, many vertical metal roofs come with a 50-100 year lifetime warrantee. Made of galvanized steel panels, vertical metal roofing is available in many different colors and styles. However, some homeowners may dislike the often commercial appearance of vertical metal.

Horizontal metal

Horizontal metal roofs are similar in advantages to vertical metal roofing. However, horizontal metal often offers patterns that are more appropriate for residential construction. Horizontal metal is installed differently from vertical metal, so be sure if you choose this material to hire a contractor who is experienced in installing horizontal metal.


Slate is considered by many to be an outdated material. However, slate roofs are still some of the most durable and traditionally beautiful roofing you can buy. Many slate roofs have lasted hundreds of years. Slate roofs are made with slate shingles that are created by splitting large blocks of slate rock. Slate roofs are seldom installed on new construction because of their weight and expense. However, if you have a historic home, you may want to consider adding slate to your house.

Clay tiles

Clay tiles are a good option for homeowners looking for durable, fireproof, and insect proof roofing. However, clay tiles have a look that is only associated with certain types of architecture, making them a poor aesthetic option for homes traditionally not found in the south and southwest. Another consideration before choosing clay tiles is their relatively heavy weight and expense. Your roof should be evaluated before installing clay tiles to allay any structural concerns.

Built up roofs

Built up roofs are only created on flat or nearly flat roofs. They are made by using layers of roofing felt and hot tar to build up a thick roofing surface. The final layer of a built up roof is covered with gravel to give overall protection to the roof. Using the built up technique is more common in commercial construction applications, but residential use is also found in some areas.

Roll Roofing

Roll roofing is used only on flat roofs. It is one of the quickest roofing materials to install, but also has one of the shortest life spans. Roll roofing is inexpensive and should be used as a temporary solution to buy the homeowner time to replace the roof with another more durable material.

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