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Which Roofing Types Are Best and Why

The average lifetime of a roof is anywhere from 15 to 50 years, so it’s not an area most people are familiar with. If your shingles are past their prime and you know you’ll need a new roof soon, here’s a brief tutorial about the types of roofing materials for the typical American home.

There are six standard types of roofing, but three of them can be eliminated because of their weight: clay roofing tile, slate, and concrete tiles are all heavy materials, and most homes aren’t built to hold their weight. That leaves three roofing material choices for the average American home:

Composition Shingles

Composition shingles are found on most homes, commonly made from asphalt. With a lifespan of 20 to 50 years and a wide range of colors and styles, it’s easy to see why composition shingles are the most popular type of roofing material. Traditionally made from an asphalt base, many composition shingles are now made from fiberglass. Standard composition shingles are affordable and the first choice for a tight budget, but they also hold the most variety of choices when it comes to color, shape, size and upgrades available. Replacing a roof with composition shingles is a popular do-it-yourself project and can be tackled by handy homeowners.

Wood Shakes

Wood shake roofs are commonly made from red cedar, but pine, redwood and cypress are also used. Wood roofs can be more expensive initially, but when properly maintained they may last longer than one of man-made materials. Although wood is more energy-efficient and eco-friendly, it’s also less fire retardant than other roofing materials. Wood roofs are trickier than standard shingles, so installation should probably be left to the pros.

Metal Roofs

Metal roofs are back in style, and the most popular type is called standing-seam steel roofing. Initially expensive, metal roofing is maintenance-free and fire retardant, making it a viable choice if you plan on staying in your home for many years. Metal roofing is also energy efficient, with reported savings of 20% on energy bills. The downside of metal roofs is that they aren’t conducive to a do-it-yourself installation, so the cost of a roofing professional should be added to your overall estimate.

Cost of Roofing

The cost of roofing is computed per square of material, but to limit an estimate to the cost of material may be misleading. Besides materials there are three thing to consider when estimating the cost of your new roof:

  • Labor: If you’re planning to replace the roof yourself, this will limit your choice of materials to match your skills. When using a contractor, remember to obtain a written estimate before any work begins.
  • Lifetime: If your home is a long-term investment consider factoring in the overall lifetime expectancy of materials to break down your roofing choice into cost-per-year.
  • Warranty: The other unseen factor in figuring cost is the manufacturer: No matter which roofing type you choose, remember a warranty is only as good as the manufacturer who offers it. Make sure to stick with a reputable brand.

While choosing your roofing, every situation is different because of house style, weather conditions and other factors. For example, if you live in Alaska or Montana you might want to consider a roofing option that won’t result in as much ice damage on your roof. Overall, I tend to suggest composition shingles because of their price, safety and diversity in options. They’re affordable, fairly simple to install and come with many possibilities.

jgwhite

About jgwhite

James works for a Caterpillar company and blogs in his free time at Homey Improvements. He also enjoys hiking, photography, and buying new gadgets. Follow him on Twitter @DIYfolks.

jgwhite

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