Choosing the right type of roof for your home or commercial building can be confusing. However, if you learn the basics behind what roofs are consisted of and behind the main types of materials they are built from, you stand a very good chance of picking something that is truly suitable for you, your budget and your needs.
The covering (shingles, tiles, slate/metal, underlayment and so on), the sheathing, the roof structure, the flashing (which prevents water seepage) and the drainage – these are some of the most important components of a roofing system.
When choosing a roofing system, one of the most important things you will have to look after are the shingles. Following, you will be presented with some of the most important roofing materials you could take into consideration.
- Asphalt shingles are probably the most popular ones both among home owners and among commercial building owners. This type of shingles comes in two main variations: organic (generally meaning that the base is made out of wood) and fiberglass (with base made out of fiberglass, top and bottom layers of asphalt and mineral granules coating). Both organic asphalt shingles and fiberglass asphalt shingles are rated according to how resistant they are when faced with fire (A being the highest rating and C being the lowest). Also, both of these types of asphalt shingles come with their advantages and with their disadvantages too – but in general, they are not related so much to appearance as they are related to pricing and to fire resistance.
- Wood shingles are also popular in certain parts of the United States (mostly in the Northwest, Midwest and California). These shingles have a very natural look to them and they can really add a lot to a home or building’s appearance. However, very frequently the construction codes restrict the use of wood shingles because most of them do not possess any kind of fire resistance rating and, if they do, they are usually classified as poorly fire resistant. However, if you really want this type of shingles on your roof, you should know that class A wood shingles are available too.
- Tiles are either round-topped (such as in Mission and Spanish-style buildings) or flat (suitable for French or English styles). They are usually very resistant (as they are made out of clay or concrete) and they are popular in Florida and the Southwest especially. However, keep in mind the fact that tiles are usually heavier and that if you plan on replacing a different roofing system, you should first check if your roof structure is strong enough to hold them.
- Slate is considered to be the most durable type of roofing system and many old houses in the Northeast are still covered with this type of material. However, it tends to be more expensive than other roofing materials and it does require a special level of skill, training and experience to be installed properly.
- Last, but definitely not least, metal can be a good choice too. In general, it is quite appealing from an aesthetic point of view and it is considered to be quite resistant too. Even more than that, some metal roofing systems come with class A fire resistance rating too.
Aside from the above-mentioned materials, you should also know that there are several other types of materials that are made from synthetic products and which imitate natural materials. Keep in mind though that this does not necessarily mean that they have the same properties too, so make sure you inform yourself before making a choice of any kind.