Types of Roofing Material

types-of-roofing-materialThe size and shape of your roof and the design of your home will aid you in deciding the type of roofing material to use. This applies to new construction and roof replacement. There are several types of roofing materials that can be used.

This includes:

  • Asphalt shingles
  • Wood shingles
  • Cement tiles
  • Metal roofing
  • Composite materials

The style of your home also determines the color and style of the roof. Curved cement tiles are used for stucco homes in the Spanish colonial and Mission styles. Overlapping shingles may be used in a wood or log home.

Asphalt shingles are the most popular. This is asphalt mixed with a fiber glass compound that makes it strong and waterproof. The shingles should have Class A UL rating for fire retardation. This is important since the Bay area has experienced a dry winter this year.

Laminated shingle will last longer than regular shingles but they are more costly. The estimated lifespan of the laminated shingle is 25 years while regular asphalt shingles last about 15 years.

Polymer-based composite shingles can imitate slate, tile or wood. They are available in various colors and styles. Some of these light-weight, fade-resistant shingles get an Energy Star rating.

Wood shingles are expensive and the southern pine or red cedar may be a fire hazard. Polymer shingles that look like wood are a better choice.

Metal roofs, including a copper and asphalt mix are resistance to fire. The mixed metal comes in shingles while other metal roofs are seamed sheets of aluminum, copper or steel. This provides an industrial look that is gaining in popularity with contemporary design homes.


Real slate will last for a century but it is heavy and expensive. This type of roof is used with Cape Cod designs. The tile and cement curved roof tiles used in Mediterranean architecture are also heavy but there are modern composite versions that are lighter.

The Spanish red tile roof is part of California’s history. This type of roof was used in old missions and haciendas to prevent the roof from burning. Some California communities require homes and commercial buildings to be built in this Spanish colonial style with red tile roofing.

Shingles in different sizes can be placed in multi-layers and random colors to pick up accents in the home’s exterior colors. They can look weathered or even reflect light based on the products used. Edges can be flat or scalloped, depending on the home’s architecture.


This is the term used by professional roof installers in reference to the sections of the roof that meet with chimneys, dormers and skylights. Metal strips must be professionally installed to seam these sections to keep them water tight.


Roofing contractors measure the roof area in squares of 10′ x 10′ or 100 foot square. The roof material is laid out in these squares. A roofer will also charge based on the squares in a roof.

The average two-story 2000 square-foot house will have a roof of 15 squares. The roof may be pitched, arched or flat, depending on the design of the building. Some rooflines are multi-level or the have a number of intersecting points called “valleys” by roofers. The cost of installing a new roof will depend on the design.

Select your new roof based on the area where you live, the design of your home and the type of roofing material previously used. If your home is new construction, check out other roofing materials in the area.


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