Residential Roofing Material Options

August 19th, 2015

Protect your Roof from Birds

What is in a residential roof?  They are pretty standard structures, are they not?  The untrained eye can easily make the mistake of thinking that all residential roofs are made from the same material; and the untrained builder could make the even bigger mistake of thinking that all residential roofing materials are appropriate in all geographies and climates.  Neither of these sentiments is true, however.  Indeed, there are many different roofing materials that can be used in residential roof construction, and each offer different strengths and weaknesses. 

Among the major types of materials used for residential roofs are asphalt shingles, wood, metal, tile, and slate.  Let’s take a closer look.

Asphalt Shingle Roofs

Asphalt shingle roofs are easily the most common variety of residential roof in North America.  Asphalt shingles are popular because they are inexpensive and easy to install.  Constructed from fibreglass and asphalt, these shingles can be sold in single-thickness varieties or more durable laminated alternatives.  While single-thickness shingles are much cheaper, laminated shingles are generally considered more attractive and more durable.

Wood Roofs

Wood roofs are certainly not a newcomer to the roofing market; in fact, they’ve been utilized for hundreds of years.  While these roofs are not suitable in regions that are at high risk for fires (they may even be banned in some areas), wood roofs are still a popular option for residential structures.  The lifespan of a wood roof is usually around 25 years, and these make very attractive options.  Available in cedar, redwood, or pine, home owners often find wood roofs are a beautiful alternative to asphalt.


Among the most versatile and durable roofs, metal roofs are another common choice for residential buildings.  Aluminum, copper, and lead roofing structures stand up well to even the most inclement weather, though they tend to be quite expensive.  Lead and copper-asphalt varieties of metal roofs usually come as shingles whereas the other varieties are used for seamed roofs where vertical sheets of metal are soldered together. 


Another attractive residential roofing material is tile.  Tile roofs are most commonly found on homes featuring Spanish Colonial and Mission designs.  These roofs are among the most expensive, and while they are very durable they are not always an appropriate choice as they are also very heavy.  As such, some existing homes cannot be retrofitted with tile roofing materials.


Finally, when it comes to residential roofing materials few products compare with the strength and durability of slate.  Indeed, it is not unheard of for slate roofs to last a hundred years or more.  Still, slate tends to be very expensive and heavy as well, so depending on your budget and the residential structure may not make an appropriate roofing option.