One of the most important decisions when a new roof is going to be installed is the selection of the best roofing material for the structure as well as for the budget. Here are 4 categories of roofing materials with definitions of the best structural characteristics, expected service life, and where they sit in terms of cost.
1) Asphalt shingles – Asphalt shingles are made of fiberglass infused with asphalt and covered on the outer surface with mineral granules designed to provide protection from ultraviolet rays, add color options, and increase the fire resistance of the roofing system. These shingles are the most popular roofing material, due in large part to their affordability as well as the relative ease of installation and are best suited for structures with a roof pitch of at least 3 to 4 inches of rise per 12 inches of horizontal run distance. The expected service life for this material averages 20 to 25 years, which is reflected in the typical duration for warranty coverage.
2) Wood shake – Wood shake shingles are most often made from western red cedar, redwood, or southern yellow pine and are then reshaped for specific roofing purposes. Increasingly tight local fire codes have restricted the use of this material in some areas, but it still remains a popular choice. Optimal uses for wood shake related to structural characteristics are similar to those of asphalt shingles, as is the duration of the service life. Depending on the specifics of these shingles, their cost can be up to twice as much as asphalt shingles.
3) Tile – Tile roofing materials are commonly found structures with Mediterranean, Santa Fe, and Mission architectural designs with service life durations exceeding 100 years, in some cases. Tile is a suitable choice for buildings with roofs having lower pitches, but its weight requires a stronger supporting structure than either asphalt or wood shake shingles. In terms of cost, tile sits near the high end of the price range for roofing materials.
4) Slate – Slate is so durable that materials exceeding 100 years of use are often installed on new projects under the assumption that they will last at least as long as on its previous structure. Slate will have different colors and characteristics depending on where it is quarried and, generally speaking, is the most expensive roofing material. Much like tile roofs, the heavy weight of slate necessitates far greater structural support than buildings with asphalt or wood shake roofs. Slate is also the most complex roofing material to install, so make sure the roofing contractor doing the installation has experienced master roofers to do the work.
If your new roof is going to be installed with the same materials as the old one, weight bearing issues probably aren’t going to be a problem. If, however, you plan to install a heavier roofing material than the one being replaced, be sure that the structure has adequate support and include the costs of any necessary upgrades in the roofing budget.