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14 Types of Roofing & Roofing Materials

August 22nd, 2019 BY First American Roofing

Long ago are the days of “do you want clay, asphalt, or concrete tiles?” There are now an astounding amount of alternatives to the basic roofing materials of the olden days. Mixing function, fit, style, and durability – advanced roofing materials can give you the exact aesthetic you’re looking for, while meeting every need for your home.

There are a number of points homeowners want to find when choosing a roof for their home or business. They want long life expectancy, affordability, adding value to the property, withstand weather, eco-friendly, ease of maintenance – the list goes on. Check out the list of these 14 types of roofing, and see which ones check those important boxes for you.

Asphalt Composite Shingles

One of the most common roofing materials in America, asphalt shingles are chosen across the nation as they’re considered very effective across many climates and environmental conditions. The costs up front are generally quite low, depending on your area, but they do have a shorter lifespan and need to be replaced after about 20 years. Homeowners who live in climates or areas that are prone to hail might want to think about getting impact-resistant shingles. You may even be able to get a discount off your insurance premium by proactively putting on impact-resistant roofing.

Asphalt shingles have been the industry standard for over 150 years, and for good reason. Asphalt resists water and can be made to resemble tile, wood, or slate shingles. Asphalt shingles are cost-effective and easy to install, maintain, and repair.

GAF manufacture’s one of the best asphalt shingles on the market. We at First American Roofing and Siding are proud to be a GAF Master Elite® Contractor. This preferred standing enables us to offer a lifetime warranty against material defects and up to 25 years of watertight coverage.

Wood Shingles

Wood shingles have a beautiful, rustic aesthetic, but do they last?

Short answer, YES. Wood shingles properly installed can last anywhere from 25-40 years. In fact, shingles made of cedar can be treated to be fire-resistant and prevent premature decay in some climates. Pine is also available treated with preservatives to keep away pesky insects, as well as early rot and decay.

Wood shingles are generally manufactured from 4 types of trees: pine, cypress, red cedar, and redwood. They are sawn on both sides, giving them an even taper and thickness. It should be noted that wood shakes are different from shingles as they are split right from logs, then reshaped for manufacturing. They are going to have one end thicker than the other, kind of like a little wedge.

Slate Shingles

There are 4 main reasons why it’s smart to invest in a shale roof.

Timeless beauty – Shale comes in many colors and hues, and the texture of it gives it such an aesthetically pleasing look, it’s chosen by many historical buildings and elegant home as the roof of choice.

Longevity – Slate roofs can last for over 100 years. A HUNDRED YEARS. It’s been called the “forever roof” because it outlives the homeowners themselves, plus many more! Its long lifespan makes it an incredibly good investment, as well as very eco-friendly. One slate roof equals 3-4 roofs being replaced and thrown in landfills in its time.

Fire Resistant – Unlike many roofing materials, they are completely fireproof.

Water Resistant – Slate shingles can withstand heavy rains, snow, and high winds. It also does not rot or grow fungus or mold. One weather downfall though is hail – the slate shingles can break easily with force, so it’s not recommended for areas where hail is prominent.

Metal Roofing

As with many roofing materials, there are some pros and cons of each type. Some amazing benefits of metal roofing include;

Long Life Expectancy – Metal roof sare going to last about as long as you own the home. Many companies will stand behind a 30-50 year lifespan of metal roofs. They are resistant to fire, insects, mold, and rot, making them a great investment.

Shedding Snow and Rain – You won’t find a roof more impervious to snow and rain. The flat, seamless surface allows water to run right off, and the dark color warms easily which promotes snowmelt.

Heat Conduction – When it’s not winter, and temperatures are hot, the metal roof reflects sunlight which keeps midday heat to a minimum. Without the sun’s warmth permeating through the roof to your home, you can save on energy costs without having to crank the AC.

Lightweight Material – This material is incredibly lightweight compared to other roofing materials. At just 50-150 lbs per square (100 square feet) that’s quite light when compared to concrete at 900 lbs per square and tile at 750 per square.

Some downfalls include;

Noisy During Extreme Weather – The sound of rain on a metal roof can be soothing for some, but during extreme weather, it can be very loud and disrupting.

Can Dent Easily – It may not be recommended to use metal roofing in areas prone to hail. Just like a car, the metal roofing can potentially dent if large hail hits it.

Metal Shingles

Interlocking metal shingle roofs have become the second most popular type of residential metal roofing. There is a large variety of different metal shingle styles to choose from, most commonly galvanized steel and aluminum, though you may also find zinc or copper shingles.

Metal shingles will last a lot longer than many types, and you can get metal shingles that look like other kinds. For example, cedar shingles and slate impression, these metal shingles will closely resemble them but will likely costs less and last longer.

Stone-coated Steel

Get the look of beautiful, rustic clay tiles at the fraction of the cost, with stone-coated steel. It’s amazing how similar they look, you’ll have everyone fooled!

To decide whether a stone-coated steel roof is right for you, consider the following;

Stylish – Stone-coated steel shingles some in a wide variety of styles. Advanced technology has made it so you would never know the tiles are actually made of metal. To the untrained eye, they imitate the look of slate and clay so well, there’s no discernable difference. But, it will continue to look good as new for many years without any extra maintenance.

Durable – Stone-coated metal tiles are resistant to rain, freeze/thaw, snow, and wind. They will not break, warp, split, or absorb water. They’ve shown incredible resilience during severe weather like hail, fires, and even earthquakes.
Lightweight – A stone-coated steel roof can actually be installed over existing roofs it’s so light, at just .5 pounds per square foot. The lightweight can also ease the burden on your home. Heavy roofs can add to the structural burden on the house frame which can cause settling, cracking, and more repairs.
Adds Value – If you ever are to sell your home, having a stone-coated steel roof is going to work ever in your favor by being beautiful, long-lasting, unique, and will really draw the eye of a prospective buyer.

Rubber Slate Tile

Synthetic slate is considered more durable, more “green”, and safer than authentic slate material. Synthetic slates are fire-resistant and are effective against severe exposure to external fires, and will not spread the fire.
Their light weight doesn’t need extra reinforcement, making them very practical for residential construction. During installation, synthetic slate can be trimmed and cut with a knife during installation, to make any custom adjustments. This is far from the need to make precise cuts and sizing for authentic slate shingles. Win!

Clay Tile

Clay roof shingles combine the rustic architectural style of shingles with the many advantages of clay tiles. Clay roof shingles are going to be a unique style that you really can’t get any other way, with such authenticity.

Modern clay tile roofs are typically found in warm climates, but you can use them in colder ones if you buy tiles made to withstand the freeze-thaw cycle.

Clay shingles are much heavier than asphalt shingles or metal roofs, and you would want to make sure your home could withstand that extra weight before deciding to go with a clay tile. They also have a higher initial cost than some other types of roofing, as well as the potential for extra repair costs for damage if your home is in an area frequented by storms.

Concrete Tile

Concrete tile is pretty common and has been used for the last few centuries. It is beautiful, long-lasting, and economical – many roofs built over a hundred years ago still have their original, intact concrete roofs. You can get a concrete tile that has different colors, hues, textures and that resemble other, more expensive types of tiles.

Concrete roof tiles will more often than not, last the lifetime of the house, Concrete tiles are resistant to hail and high wind damage. In fact, concrete tiles have been tested to perform against 125 winds, winds that would rip off many other types of residential shingles. Their seamless design works hard to resist leaks and damage. Definitely worth the investment!

Green Roofs

The big win when it comes to a green roof, is its contribution to stormwater management. The green roof absorbs and filters rainwater that otherwise would be running right into the sewers. They reduce runoff and improve water quality. They reduce noise and air pollution. They can be a space for urban agriculture, plus create habitats for wildlife. Not to mention, they are incredibly cool and aesthetically pleasing. Everyone will be jealous of your green roof. The long-term benefits and the payoff you and the environment will receive from this long-term, are worth the investment.

Mitigating stormwater runoff is considered the primary benefit of a green roof, especially in urban areas. Runoff from roof surfaces increases erosion, and encourages waste to flow into our sewers and inevitability the rivers.  A major benefit of green roofs is their ability to absorb stormwater and release it slowly over a period of several hours, rather than quickly down a gutter like with your average residential roof.

Green roofs are protected from UV radiation and extreme fluctuations in temperature that cause other roofing materials to disintegrate and lose their lifespan. They aid in making your home incredibly energy efficient, by shading the roof and keeping your home cool in the warm months and warm in the cool months. It’s the ideal situation for everyone!

Built-up Roofing

For over 100 years, Built-up Roofs have been used. sometimes called tar and gravel roofs,  BUR systems are generally made up of alternating layers of bitumen and fabrics that create a membrane style material. They can have different numbers of plies, or layers depending on what you need. Built up roofs can be applied directly to roof decks or insulation.

The fabrics used to produce the membrane are called roofing felts or ply sheets and are reinforced with either an organic or glass-fiber mat. The bitumen in between these ply sheets is generally asphalt, tar, or cold-applied adhesive. The asphalt or coal tar must be heated first and applied by a special spreader, the cold-applied adhesive if you couldn’t tell, does not need to be heated before application.

They are generally used for low-slope or flat roofs. The material makes it perfect for walking on, without any damage so flat roofs work best with this type of roofing material. They also bode well in warmer climates, and their average lifespan is 15-30 years, but some can last upwards of 40 years.

Membrane Roofing

Thermoplastic roof membranes are one of the fastest growing materials in the industry. They have a high=temperature tolerance, and have a unique look. The durability of the membrane outstands a lot of competition and other roofing materials. Some major advantages are their durability and energy efficiency.

Durable – Thermoplastic membranes offer excellent durability. They are flexible, allowing them to withstand punctures, tears, chemical spills, oils and more. They also combat bacterial growth and standing water – both of which diminish the life of the membrane over time.

Energy Efficient – Membrane roofs have a well-known ability to control energy costs, due to their heat resistant properties. Often colored black, white or grey, they are highly reflective, repelling UV rays away from the building, which in turn can lower your cooling and energy expenses.

Rolled Roofing

Though it’s not used often for residential roofing, rolled roofing is a great affordable option for anything from work sheds, potting sheds, garages, barns, and other outdoor structures. It works best on low slope roofs, and is easy enough to install yourself!

Almost all home improvement stores carry rolled roofing so it’s easy to obtain and easy to transport. They come in rolls about 36 feet long x 36 inches wide, but are easy to cut and customize if needed. Each roll weighs about 75 pounds so again, easy to transport and DIY. All you need is the rolls and roofing nails.

The downfalls of a rolled roof though are plenty. There aren’t a lot of color options, it’s not very cool looking, it only lasts about 5-8 years and they are less durable than shingles. However, they are still going to be one of the easiest cheapest options for your low-incline, structure roof. It will work just fine for your shed!

Solar Tiles

Solar tiles are not solar panels Solar tiles are actually solar-powered shingles for your roof and they are sleek, stylish, and amazingly eco-friendly. Some immediate drawbacks of solar tiles are their expensive set-up costs and their reliance on sunlight for power. It is said though that the cost-savings from going solar will eventually match the initial cost after 7-20 years. Plus, it adds a ton of retail value to your home! People say the pros outweigh the cons tenfold.

Cost-Effective – Within the first year of installation, homeowners see a drastic reduction in utility bills. Eventually, you can achieve total independence from local utility companies, while escaping the ever-increasing rates of electricity. Also, there are some pretty sweet tax benefits for installing solar roofing.

Long-Lasting – Solar tiles are built to last, and the cost of maintenance and repair are nothing compared to normal roofing repairs and materials. Solar tiles are highly rated against wind, hail and fire. Tesla solar tiles are all certified to the highest ratings a roof can get when it comes to weather.

Environmentally Friendly – Turning to solar power can help aid in our reliance on exhaustible resources. Solar power is a renewable energy that doesn’t burn fossil fuels to generate electricity. It’s an incredible alternative to current methods as it is clean and green energy. No greenhouse gas emissions are released with solar power.

Back-Up Power – You may ask ‘What about cloudy days, or bad weather? How do the panels get power from the sun?’ Technological advances had been made to allow the panels and tiles to collect energy it’s gathered in the day and use it as a backup for those days where the sun is not prominent. You will always have a continuous supply of power.


First American Roofing knows roofs. With our GAF Master Elite® Contractor certification, we can guarantee you will get the most knowledgeable, professional contractors you can find. We want all your questions answered and to get you the roof you want and need. For more information or to get a free quote and assessment, contact First American Roofing. Give us a call at (608) 305-2257  or email us at [email protected]


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