Types of Roofing

A roof protects your home from rain, snow, sunlight, and extremes of temperature. If it’s in good condition, a new roof can also add to the value of your property.


The most common roof materials are shingles and metal. But there are other choices as well. Some, like cut turf (modern versions called green roofs, traditional ones called sod roofs) have insulating properties.

Shingles provide a decorative, sturdy shelter from the elements. They are installed in an overlapping pattern to protect the materials underneath them, such as plywood or a vapor barrier. They also enhance the curb appeal of your home.

Historically, shingles were made of wood or paper products, but today, they are available in almost any color and in many different styles. They can imitate the look of tile, slate or even stone and are often cheaper than other types of roofing.

Some shingles are designed to cap the hips and ridges of your roof, while others have been pre-bent with steam to create rolling curves that add a fairy tale touch to cottage style homes. There are also shingles that come in a variety of earth tones and colors, including clay or natural wood for that authentic feel.

If your roof is shingle-based, it’s important to clean your gutters on a regular basis to remove any debris that could cause damage to the shingles and prevent proper drainage. You’ll also want to make sure your roof has adequate ventilation and that the attic insulation meets Department of Energy recommendations.

Another potential problem is that shingle-based roofs can get brittle and leaky over time. This is caused by exposure to sunlight and the movement of water through your roof. It can also be caused by ice dams or excessive snow build up that can crack and loosen the shingles. If you notice any of these issues, it’s a good idea to contact a professional to check out the problem. They will be able to recommend the best course of action and help you decide what type of roofing is best for your home.


Tiles are thin pieces of material used to cover surfaces like roofs, floors and walls. They come in many colors, shapes and sizes. Different kinds of tiles can be used for decorative purposes or to protect surfaces from water damage. Tiles can also improve the acoustics in rooms, and some are designed to be slip-resistant.

The most familiar kind of roofing is made from glazed or unglazed fired clay. Modern materials, including concrete, metal and plastic, may be used as well. Roof tiles are hung from the framework of a roof in rows, with each row overlapping the row below it to exclude rainwater and to protect the nails that hold the row above. There are several types of roof tiles, including pantiles (flat, interlocking squares), shingles and slate.

A tile roof can add an exotic sense of romance to a home and is especially popular on Southwest-style and Mediterranean-style homes. Clay tile roofs have insulating properties that help to keep the interior of a house at a more even temperature during hot and cold weather, reducing heating and cooling costs.

Whether they’re made from glazed or unglazed ceramics, concrete, natural slate or other materials, tiles can be laid in a variety of patterns to create distinctive looks. Some of these patterns include herringbone, stacked or mosaic. Some tiles are designed to look like flat shakes, which can be a good choice for craftsman and rustic-style houses. Others are constructed to mimic the appearance of natural slate, which can be a beautiful option for Colonial, Tudor and Victorian architecture. A common feature of these types of roofs is that they shed light rains fairly easily but may not be ideal for areas with heavy “gully-washer” rainfalls.


Whether it’s corrugated panels that look like they belong on sheds and barns, or standing-seam applications with a more commercial appearance, metal is used for roofing on a wide variety of architectural styles. And while it is true that metal roofs can cost more than asphalt shingles, the longevity of these systems often offsets this initial investment. Many manufacturers offer 50-year or lifetime non-prorated warranties on their products.

All metal roofing starts out as metal coils or sheets that have been treated and coated. Once the product is rolled out and processed, it’s ready to be shaped into panels for roofing. These panels may be connected or seamed together to form a roof, or they could be hung from the purlins (additional support beams that are added to the frame of the structure).

Steel metal roofing is the most common residential and commercial product. It is durable and versatile, and it’s one of the Earth’s most recycled materials. All steel roofing has a protective coating that prevents rusting. This is under and separate from any paint that is applied to the metal roof. The thickness of this coating determines how long the product will last; choose thicker coatings for longer service.

Aluminum is a lightweight metal with a high strength-to-weight ratio. It’s well-suited for homes in coastal areas, as it resists corrosive salt air. However, it can dent more easily than steel during and after installation. It also has fewer color options than steel or other metals, so choose carefully if you want to match your home’s exterior. Some aluminum roofing also has a surface that can be scratched or pitted by debris from trees and other outdoor structures. To reduce this problem, install a layer of underlayment, such as a vapor barrier or a synthetic underlayment, between the underside of the metal and the plywood sheathing.


Asphalt is the main water-resistant material that shingles are made from. It is an end-product of oil refining, but it is processed to the high degree needed for shingle performance. The asphalt used for roofing is blown through hot asphalt using precise air pressure to oxidize it, which increases its toughness. This helps it hold its bond through the shingle installation process and during the stresses of weather events and roof stressors. It also makes the shingles resistant to fire hazards.

It is easy to work with, and it can be molded and formed into different shapes. It is also inexpensive, making it a popular choice for many construction projects. It is also an environmentally friendly option, since it can be recycled and reused.

The sturdiness of asphalt is due to the fact that it has strong interlocking molecules. The polar nature of these molecules attracts them to aggregate surfaces, which gives asphalt its ability to adhere to these materials. This allows it to support large loads without cracking. Asphalt is also known for its resistance to weathering, abrasion, and chemical damage.

There are different types of asphalt mixes that are used for paving, depending on the amount of traffic and weather conditions. For instance, cold mix asphalt stays soft during low winter temperatures and repels water. It is a good material for temporary use, such as pothole repairs.

There is a wide variety of colors available for asphalt shingles. This can help preserve your home’s curb appeal or increase its resale value when it is time to sell it. It is also a durable and cost-effective option for protecting your home from the elements.


Wood is one of the most versatile materials available and is widely used in construction. It provides both warmth and a natural aesthetic, as well as excellent protection against harsh weather conditions. Wood is also an environmentally friendly material when sourced from sustainably managed forests. It is also a good choice for roofs because it is light and rot-resistant. However, it is important to take into account the cost and maintenance requirements of different types of wood before making a decision.

There are several different types of wood that can be used for roofing, including cedar, pine, redwood, and cypress. The type of wood you choose will depend on the climate in your area and the style of roof you’re looking for. For example, cedar shingles are often preferred due to their durability and resistance against rot and insect damage. They are also lightweight, making them easy to install. However, they may require more frequent maintenance than other types of shingles.

Plywood is a popular option for sheathing the rafters of a roof, and it comes in a variety of thicknesses. Its multilayered structure prevents moisture from penetrating the wood, which can lead to problems like warping or rotting. Other alternatives to plywood for sheathing include oriented strand board and OSB. OSB is made from thicker sheets of wood strands that are bonded together using heat and pressure. Unlike plywood, OSB does not contain any soft spots and is more durable.

The best type of wood for roofing is Douglas fir, which is often used for rafter-style roofs. This type of wood is light and rot-resistant, and it is relatively inexpensive. It is also easy to cut in compound angles and has a beautiful reddish tint.

Eric Weiss