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Compare the Top Rated Roofing Materials: Best & Most Popular Types of Roofing

When it comes to maintaining and caring for your home, your roof probably falls lower on your list of priorities. Often, it doesn't even make the list until it starts to leak. Once an issue occurs with the roof is when most people realize its importance, but it shouldn't take broken shingles and dripping water to do that.

The importance of your roof goes beyond keeping the inside of your home dry; it can aid in insulating your home, as well as make or break your curb appeal. Whether you're adding on to an existing roof, building a new home, or re-roofing, it's worth your while to consider what is available to you. It may seem daunting, as there are a plethora of roofing materials and styles available, but if you do your research and carefully weigh all your options, it can take your roof to the next level.

What to Look for When Choosing Roofing Material

It doesn't matter if it's a new roof or an addition to an existing one; your roof is an investment for you and your home. It is something that will (or at least should) last for years to come and improve your home's aesthetic. There are three main things to keep in mind when choosing your roofing material: budget, climate, and visual appeal.

You need to figure out your budget before looking into your roofing options, as that will be one of the first deciders of what you can do with your roof. You may like the style of a roofing material, but if it isn't within your budget then it isn't a viable option. Figuring out what you can and want to spend is the first step in the process.

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Once you have set a budget, you need to consider the climate your home is in. Does it rain often? Is it hot and dry? Does it snow? How bad does wind tend to be? Some materials work better in certain climates and worse in others, so you want to make sure that you have an appropriate roof for your area.

Once you have the budget and types of materials that will work best for you figured out, then you can focus on the visual appeal of your roof. You want it to look good; it is your house after all. Should you decide to sell your home, a new or redone roof that looks appealing can increase its resale value.

Types of Roofing Material

There are various types of roofing materials, each with its own advantages, disadvantages, and aesthetics. The type of roofing material that will work best for you depends on the look you're going for, as well as the area your home is in and the budget you have allotted. Here are the different types of roofing material that are typically available:

  • Asphalt shingles are the most common and popular choice for roofing material. They are easy to install and lightweight, as well as affordable and stylish. These shingles are made from fiberglass mixed with asphalt and ceramic granules and come in two types: laminated and three-tab. Laminated shingles (also referred to as architectural or dimensional shingles) are layered and give off the appearance of slate or wood. Three-tab asphalt shingles are thinner and made of only a single layer. Both types of asphalt shingle can last for decades, but it should be noted that they can be vulnerable to high winds.
  • Clay tiles create an elegant and romantic appearance. This roofing material is perfect for anyone looking to instill their home with a European or Mediterranean style. Clay tiles are fire, insect, moisture, and weather resistant, with an incredibly high life expectancy. They also offer increased thermal performance, helping to boost the energy efficiency of your home. It is important to consider that, while clay tiles look great and have high durability in the face of the elements, they are also very heavy. You will need to have your roof evaluated to see if any reinforcements are necessary before installation, which will increase the overall cost of the roof. And though clay tiles boast high strength in the face of the elements, they are not as strong under the weight of a person, and one wrong step can easily cause cracks or breaks.
  • Metal roofing materials include alloy strips, aluminum, copper, and steel, as well as a variety of styles and textures. It is easy to install and lightweight and offers increased fire resistance. Metal roofing also reflects heat, helping to cool your home in the summer. Some types of metal roofing are more easily dented or scuffed than others, but different textures can help to hide blemishes and damage. The pricing of metal roofing varies depending on the type of metal that you choose. Copper, for example, is much more expensive. Make sure to hire a professional that has worked with metal roofing in the past should you choose this material.
  • Slate roofing is made from real stone and rock and offers an elegant yet natural look that may be exactly what you need to tie your home together. Like clay tiles, slate provides a European aesthetic and resistance to fire, insects, moisture, and harsh weather. This roofing material looks just as good on classical, contemporary, and rustic style homes. It is important to remember that slate is very heavy, so you will need to have your roof evaluated to see if reinforcements are necessary. It is a good idea to hire an installer that has experience with slate since, although they are durable in the face of the elements, these tiles can break and crack with a single wrong step. Slate is also on the higher end of the price scale, so keep that in mind when considering your options.
  • Synthetic roofing is not used as often as other, more traditional roofing materials but is gaining popularity among consumers and installers. The synthetic shingles are often made from plastic, rubber, or polymers that can be designed to offer the appearance of materials such as clay, slate, or wood. Synthetic roofing can be treated to be fire-resistant, and stands strong in the face of high winds and heavy storms. This form of roofing is affordable, durable, and lightweight, as well as a decent insulator. Many enjoy synthetic roofing because the majority of it is made from recycled materials, making it an eco-friendly choice. And, while some synthetic materials (usually plastic and plastic polymers) can crumble when in extreme heat, synthetic shingles are affordable and easy to replace should it be necessary.
  • Wood shakes and shingles: A traditional and rustic roofing option, wood shakes and shingles are a common choice for bungalows, cabins, and cottages. They can be made from just about any type of wood, but are most commonly made from cedar, cypress, pine, or redwood. This form of roofing tends to be more fragile than others and requires treating for fire, insect, and water resistance. The lifespan of wood roofing is directly related to the level of maintenance that is provided and the climate of the area. However, when consistently and properly maintained, they can last for decades.

Additional Considerations When Buying a New Roof

Having a new roof installed is more than just picking your favorite material and color; it is a process that deserves and requires attention and thought. Factors such as budget, style, and weather are important (and really the main things to consider) but they are far from the only concerns you should have when it comes to your roof.

You may have your budget in mind, but have you calculated your budget based on your roof or based on what you're willing to spend? It's an important difference, because the two are not necessarily one and the same. You should multiply the length and the width of each roofing section, then allot for an additional ten percent for waste to achieve an accurate idea of how much material will be needed, which will let you more accurately estimate the cost of the material. It is also a good idea to keep an extra bundle of shingles on hand in case of minor repairs. Don't forget that installation and any evaluations will also add to the cost.

Also remember that, typically, you probably should not have two layers of roofing on your home. While the majority of homes are strong enough to be able to support this, some heavier materials can seriously stress your roof. There are also some building codes that may require you to strip your roof down to the sheathing before installing a new one, which some contractors and installers recommend for any new roof installation. Completely removing the existing roof allows the installer to check for any damage, infestations, or rot that may have occurred, as well as installation of a new underlayment to create a better moisture barrier.

For the roofing material itself, once you have chosen the proper amount, material, and style, you need to look at the warranty. Full warranties cover defective materials and material warranties provide prorated coverage. The majority of warranties should include full reimbursement for both the installation and material, with the standard being at least 10 years. Always check all of the provisions of the warranty that is offered.

Author: Angela Escobar

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