Replacing your roof is one of the most expensive repairs your home can require with costs ranging between four and five figures. It’s important that homeowners understand what their roofs are made of so that they can ensure adequate maintenance, anticipate repairs, and make informed decisions when it comes time to replace it. When that day comes, the best material will be a decision based on price, durability, longevity, functionality, and style. With so many factors to consider, here are five of the most common roofing materials and some pros and cons of each:

Asphalt Shingles

If you take a drive through the suburbs in many areas of North America, you’ll see these just about everywhere. They are so popular because the materials are inexpensive, the installation is relatively easy, they’re soundproof, fire retardant, and come in a wide variety of colors. However, they tend to have a lower lifespan of 20 to 30 years. They’re high maintenance and may need repairs for cracks, tears, holes, and curled shingles. Also, if you live in a hot, humid area be wary as asphalt absorbs considerable heat from the sun and is prone to algal growth. If this describes your climate, check out reflective, algae resistant shingles to help keep these two issues at bay.

Natural Slate Tiles

These stone tiles have a refined, elegant look and are among the most durable roofing materials. They are resilient to wind, water, fire, and bacterial growth, and have a tremendous lifespan of up to 100 years. Repairs are minimal as each tile is addressed individually. While slate is a very attractive option, it’s notably more expensive. Slate, depending on its quality, can easily be triple the price of asphalt and requires a specialized and skilled professional for installations and repairs. Slate roofs require a steep pitch and often need to be reinforced to support the weight.  If you’re looking for a more affordable option, composite slate is synthetic and offers similar benefits to natural slate at a lower price.

Metal Panels and Shingles

Whether they’re stainless steel, copper, or aluminum, metal roofs are a durable and eco-friendly option. They are low maintenance, fire retardant, recyclable, lightweight, and incredibly energy efficient. These roofs have a potential lifespan of 40 to 50 years depending on the material and its quality. They are more expensive than asphalt, but with a range of materials to choose from you can select one that fits your budget. Metal roofs are prone to discoloration and will require cleaning and repainting with time to maintain their aesthetic.

Wood Shingles and Shakes

When it comes to maintaining a natural look that blends with the landscape, nothing compares to wood. Wood roofs are very affordable, quaint, insulating, and relatively easy to repair. However, wood roofs are not as durable and require significantly more maintenance than some other materials. Their lifespan is much lower at 10 to 25 years depending on their upkeep. These roofs will need to be regularly cleaned in order to protect the wood and will benefit from the use of fungicides, preservatives, and spray-on fire retardants. If you decide on wood, be sure to research the manufacturer as quality tends to vary.

Clay Tiles

Clay tiles are a stylish option that incorporates the natural resilience of slate with the insulation of wood. Unlike wood, these tiles are non-combustible, unaffected by insects or rot, and require minimal maintenance. For the stylishly inclined, these tiles have the largest variety of colors making it easy to suit your style. The expected lifespan for clay tiles is up to 100 years although individual tiles may need to be replaced due to cracking and chipping. Like slate, clay tiles are very heavy and often require reinforced framing to support their weight. As these tiles are popular in hot arid climates, the frequent exposure to sunlight can cause the color to fade with time. Lastly, while they can withstand the environment, they are fragile when it comes to impact. Anyone stepping on the roof for maintenance must be extremely cautious as they can easily crack under the weight of an adult.

As a general rule, the more expensive the roofing material, the more durable it tends to be. Make sure that what goes above you and your family’s home is of the highest quality you can afford and consult with a professional before making your decision. Regardless of which you choose,  keep up with the required maintenance to avoid costly repairs.



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