Getting a Roof Over Your Head

Getting a Roof Over Your Head
  • Opening Intro -

    Is your home’s roof just not cutting it these days?

    Whether you are looking to repair, replace, or build a roof for your home, here are 6 roofing materials explained to help you find the best fit.



Asphalt roofing is the most common and inexpensive material for roofs today. Shingles are saturated with asphalt to become waterproof, then another coat of asphalt is applied to the entire roof. While this is an economic option, the shorter lifetime of the roof is reflected in its lower price.

An asphalt roof can be expected to live up to 15 to 20 years in areas of moderate climate and with good upkeep; they can be prone to thermal shock when temperatures rise dramatically. However, asphalt roofs do provide good insulation in colder seasons and climates.


A classic choice for older and historic homes, wood roofing is a little more expensive than asphalt and lasts 10 years longer. You can expect a wood roof to last around 20 to 30 years with good upkeep. Unfortunately, wood roofs require the most upkeep of all roofing options.

While cedar wood is naturally resistant to algae, moss and rot, it is not completely immune. The roof should be kept dry as much as possible (and is therefore probably not the best choice for very wet climates), and debris should be removed as soon as possible. Also insure that there is proper ventilation in place when the roof is installed to provide for drying. Even with the upkeep, cedar wood roofs are a beautiful addition to any home, creating a cozy and classic aesthetic.


Don’t worry—these metal roofs aren’t the corrugated tin coverings you might be thinking of. Metal roofs have come a long way and can offer many options to today’s homeowner. Steel is the most common metal used, but stainless steel and aluminum are rising in popularity for their rust-resistance. Another more stylish (and expensive) option is copper. Copper is especially appropriate for stone homes with a historic finish, and it can be used as an accent on towers or awnings.

Metal roofing can be made into tiles or sheets, according to your preference. They are wonderful for both hot and cold climates—they reflect heat, rather than absorbing it, and they allow snow and ice to slide off, instead of forming ice dams and dangerous snow clumps. (Ice dams can divert water flow and cause seepage into the interior of the home.) While the initial price is much higher than other roofing options, the lifetime and minimal upkeep of metal roofs is worth the extra penny. Most metal roofs will last 40 to 60 years, and copper roofs have been known to live over 100 years.


Red tile roofs bring to mind images of the Tuscan countryside and sleepy southern Spanish towns, but now you can have a tile roof, too! The quintessential rust and sienna color and non-porous surface naturally resists heat, so it will keep your home cool in warm weather. The half-barrel shape also promotes air circulation. Unfortunately, cold and wet weather can cause tiles to snap, so this type of roofing is better in warmer, dryer climates. The average life expectancy of a tile roof is about 50 years.  


Cement roofing is not extremely economic to install, but it is very durable, energy efficient, and long-lasting. However, it is very heavy (about three times heavier than standard shingles), so be sure your roof structure can accommodate the heavy tiles. These tiles can withstand brutal weather and fire and will last up to 50 years, but the underlayment and support material will need to be replaced after 30 or 40 years.


The most expensive roofing option, slate is known for its beauty, durability, and value. Five times the price will give you five times the life—over 150 years! Slate offers a beautiful, natural color range to choose from, allowing homeowners to create a custom, distinct look. Slate roofs are excellent for all weather—the stone has natural reflective properties to resist heat absorption, and it can endure the harshest winters.

In addition to being able to withstand storms and weather, it is also fireproof, adding another dimension of safety to your home. As far as upkeep is concerned, there might be a random tile to replace every few years or so—but otherwise, it is very maintenance-free. Slate roofs add great value to your home if you are planning to sell in the future.

With information about these common roofing materials, you are sure to find the next roof for your home.



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