Choosing a Roofing Material

Which Roof Type is Right for Where You Live?

When selecting material for a roof, aesthetics, warranty, and price are important, but not the only factors to consider. Choosing the right type of roofing for your climate can mean the difference between an attractive, comfortable, watertight roof and one that leaks, rusts, or needs costly repairs before the warranty expires.

Traditional Shingles

Traditional asphalt or composite shingle roofs are the first, most obvious choice and they work well for many parts of the country, including moderately warm climates. They can also withstand snow, ice, and heavy rain.

Asphalt shingles are good insulators and hold in the heat – which can be a negative in dry, hot areas. Choosing light-colored shingles or applying one of the newer cool-roof surface coatings can greatly improve the performance of asphalt roofs in this situation.

Corrugated & Metal Roofing

Corrugated steel roofing is becoming more popular, due to the fact that it lasts so much longer than asphalt – 50 to 100 years vs. 10 to 25 year warranties for asphalt roofs.

Though steel tends to rust, corrugated Galvalume sheet metal has been specially treated for corrosion resistance, making it ideal for use as a roof in wet climates. In some cases, such as restorations of older buildings or new builds with modern designs, metal roofing made of weathering steel can provide the right rusted look.

Metal roofing is built to withstand extreme weather conditions, including high winds, heavy snow, hailstorms, and even wildfires. It can prevent moisture from getting underneath, which could lead to rot. In hot climates, a white metal roof provides excellent solar reflectivity, and quickly cools down at night.

Other Roofing Material Types

Cedar wood shakes and shingles are natural materials that look quite traditional, but may rot in wet climates. Areas with prolonged high heat may cause the wood to crack or split. However, wood shingles are quite strong and can withstand heavy snow and winds in colder areas.

Concrete tiles are commonly used in the Southwest because of their ability to stand up to the heat. This type of roofing material is less appropriate in colder climates, which may cause cracking and water leaks.

Clay tiles, like concrete, do not wear well in cold, snowy climates, though they can withstand heavy rains. Clay roofing, especially the lighter colors, is a good choice for hot climates because it tolerates high heat and reflects sunlight to keep buildings cooler.

Slate tile roofing is also popular in hot climates, and light-colored slate tiles reflect the heat well. Slate is also very strong and durable enough to withstand wind, heavy rains or snows in colder areas.