A new roof is a big investment that can last anywhere from 15 to over 50 years given proper installation and maintenance. Before starting such a comprehensive project, it’s important to understand the factors that influence the longevity and curb appeal of a roof, and how to prioritize them.

When replacing your roof, consider the climate and weather where you live. What works for one house in sunny, dry Texas might not work as well for a home in Chicago, where the winters are usually wet and freezing.

Also take into account budget, roof size, and visual appeal. In you live in a neighborhood with an HOA, certain changes to your roof may first require approval from the board.

Of course, the roof you choose should suit your taste and your home’s potential resell value. A professional roofer can also make smart suggestions depending on your unique circumstances.

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Below are the five most common roofing materials and their various advantages:

Asphalt Shingles

asphalt shinglesThe standard in roofing material, asphalt shingles are made either of fiberglass or organic materials. Fiberglass asphalt shingles aren’t very environmentally friendly, and in areas with heavy wind and rain, these shingles might need replacing every few years. However, the availability and ease of installation of these shingles are exceptional.

Organic shingles are more environmentally friendly, but they are also heavier and less durable than fiberglass shingles.

Pros:

  • Asphalt is the most common roofing material
  • This material is a good insulator
  • It’s available in a huge array of styles, colors, and sizes

Cons:

  • This material is environmentally unfriendly
  • A roof with asphalt shingles will need replacement every 15 to 30 years
  • It can require frequent maintenance in harsher climates

Metal Roofs

metal roofMetal roofs are increasing in popularity because of their durability and environmental benefits—they’re often made of recycled materials and are recyclable themselves. Though they can be more expensive to install than a standard asphalt shingle roof, they last much longer, saving money in the long run.

This style of roof is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a long-term roofing solution, but keep in mind their lifespan may decrease near coastal areas where salt water may corrode the metal.

Pros:

  • Metal is environmentally friendly
  • This material is fire resistant, durable, and long lasting
  • It’s available in many colors and styles

Cons:

  • The installation cost of a metal roof is typically high
  • Some people find metal roofs noisy in the rain
  • A metal roof might not last as long in areas close to salt water

Wood Shakes and Shingles

wood shinglesMany love the natural look of wood shakes and shingles, and they tend to look better with age. These roofing materials are made from many different woods, usually depending on the home’s location, and include cedar, yellow pine, redwood, and others.

Wood shakes and shingles are almost always treated for fire retardation; however, since they’re made of wood, they do still present a higher fire danger than asphalt shingles, tile, slate, or metal roofing.

Pros:

  • Wood has good insulation properties
  • Many people love its natural, aesthetic look

Cons:

  • It requires regular maintenance
  • Installation costs can be high
  • The material is more susceptible to fire

Natural Slate and Man-made Slate Shingles

slate roofNatural slate roofs are heavy and expensive, but they’re also highly prized. While they are not very common these days, man-made slate tiles—made from rubber and other materials—are a fraction of the price and weight of the real thing.

Pros:

  • Many love the look of natural and man-made slate shingles
  • Shingles of this material last much longer than many other roofing materials

Cons:

  • Natural slate is very heavy, so extra roof support might be required
  • It’s one of the most expensive roofing materials to buy and install
  • Man-made slate’s appearance might not fool everyone

Ceramic Tile

ceramic tile roofMost people think of Italian villas when they picture tile roofs. These tiles, usually made from ceramic, bring a specific aesthetic look to a house that many homeowners find appealing. Though they’re expensive and can be difficult to install, roofing experts claim ceramic tiles can last upwards of 80 years.

Pros:

  • Ceramic tile is long lasting
  • Many find the tile look to be visually appealing

Cons:

  • Installation costs, while lower than slate, are still high
  • It can be difficult to find replacement pieces if damaged

In Conclusion

Every kind of roofing material has its own advantages and disadvantages. When comparing roofing materials, keep in mind the following factors:

  • Budget. How much are you willing to spend now on quality material and installation vs. how much are you willing to pay later for repairs to lower-quality roofs?
  • Climate. Does your area get lots of rain? Is it prone to fire due to lighting strikes or wildfires? Do you live close to salt water?
  • Durability. Will you need to replace the roof in 15 years or less?
  • Visual appeal. Does the roof meet HOA standards? Does the aesthetic compromise durability?

These roofing materials are just a sampling of your available options. If you still have questions, you’ll want to call a professional roofing company to help guide you through the process of choosing the right roof for you.

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