Common Types of Roof Materials

Roofing is are made from materials that vary in cost, weight, durability, color, and architectural style. The market for materials is dominated by asphalt shingles, tiles, metal products, and wood shingles or shakes. Here are some of the most common types used today.

Asphalt Shingle:

Asphalt roof shingles are the most common covering used on residential properties in North America and account for half of the residential roofing market in the western states, according to industry sources. These shingles will normally only last about 20 years, but covered in copper sheeting the life of the asphalt shingles can easily be extended to between 30 and 40 years. In the absense of harsh weather conditions, asphalt shingles will continue looking good with little maintenance. These roofs are normally installed during warm months. Asphalt shingles can be installed during winter, but there could be a problem with how they bond to each other. The primary advantage of asphalt shingle roofing is lower cost than most other types. Another advantage is that they come in a variety of colors.


Wood shingles come in several different sizes, with varying exposures, and are generally either shingles or shakes. Wood shingles and shakes usually are made of western red cedar, a long-lasting, straight-grained wood. Wood shakes are thicker and rougher, being split rather than sawn from the logs. Wooden roofs have a typical life expectancy of 25 years, which is similar to many other roofs. Wood materials are not fire-resistant and some local codes may even require that the wood be pressure-treated. Wooden roofs may not be suitable for use in fire-prone areas. Wood materials often require more maintenance than other roofing options, especially if you live in a harsh climate. Wood shingles are not permitted on slopes less than 3:12 and shakes are not permitted below 4:12. Wooden roof roofing was commonly used on old houses, but they have gained recent popularity on new homes built in traditional styles.


Tile roofs initially cost a lot more to install than asphalt shingle or wood shake roofs, but they also last much longer. Tile has the unique ability of being able to accent, or complement, the exterior color or finish of any home or building. Tile is also your most energy-efficient material choice, with better insulating properties than most other roofing materials. Tile roofing systems allow air circulation under the tile, reducing heat transfer to attics during fires. These roofs are charming to look at, are quite waterproof and weatherproof and add value to a home or business, but they are not meant to be walked on! Tile is typically used in the more expensive custom homes.


Aluminum is increasingly valued as a roofing material for many reasons. These roofs are attractive, durable, energy-efficient, and increasingly affordable. Aluminum roof mayterials are non-combustible, so they can never be ignited by fire or sparks from your chimney. Aluminum roofing does not warp, crack, or burn and, unlike steel, it is extremely corrosion-resistant and does not rust, which is a significant advantage in coastal areas and places with a lot of precipitation or problems with acid rain. It is a preferred roofing material in hail-prone areas. Aluminum is also extremely lightweight.


The flat roof is used in both business and residential structures. They are not as glamorous or popular as their newer counterparts like slate, tile, or copper roofs. They also generally have a small degree of pitch to them so that water will run off to a drain system and not pond. Flat roofs can be made from a variety of different materials and substances. They are most commonly built up with layers of molten asphalt and felts, or covered with a membrane of modified bitumin or asphalt base, or plastics or rubber. Flat roofs do have a reputation to leak, but pitched (sloped) roofs are prone to ice dams which inevitably form with the freezing and thawing cycles causing leaking as well.
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