Roofing Types

Roofs are fairly common when it comes to buildings. The type of roof a building has is determined by cost, architectural style and preference to materials. This article describes the different types of roofs and the pros and cons of each.

Remember that a roofing "square" is 100 square feet and that the square footage of a roof is usually larger than the square footage of your house because of the roof slope and overhang

Asphalt shingles

Asphalt shingles are probably the most popular roofing type because of its low cost and durability. The typical size is about 36" wide and 12" tall.

  • Construction: They have two types of construction, glass fiber or organic. Glass fiber are made of fiberglass mat that is saturated with asphalt. Organic shingles are made with paper that is saturated with asphalt. Glass fiber shingles are more popular than Organic.
  • Types and Lifespan: The lifespan of asphalt shingle varies with the weight of the shingele. Heavier shingles have more plys and thus more texture and last longer and cost more. Lighter shingles have less plys and thus less texture, a shorter lifespan and cost less.
  • Cost $50.00 per square for simple pattern and thin composition 20 year
  • Cost &75.00 per square for heavy pattern and thick composition 50 year

Wood shakes or shingles

Wood Shakes and Shingles are a classic natural roofing material. There are different qualities of woods used to make shakes or shingles. The wood may also be treated with a stain or sealer or both. Depending on the quality of the wood used you may need to install it over a asphalt roll roof or other heavy waterproof membrane to prevent leaking.

  • Construction: The difference between Shakes and Shingles is that Shakes are split from wood with a knife and Shingles are sawn from wood. The weight of wood shakes or shingles depends on the thickness of the wood but it is usuall around 6 pounds a square foot.
  • Types and Lifespan: Heartwood from western red cedar is very durable whereas yellow pine shingles are quite a bit less durable. Western red cedar should last 25 t0 30 years without any treatment. Like all wood, it is prone to moss growth in humid or shady areas.
  • Cost

Clay Tile

Clay tile is another classic roofing type. It is most often used in warmer climates because it is brittle and may crack when exposed to extreme freeze thaw cycles in northern climates.

  • Construction: Clay tile is made from kiln fired clay. It is very durable. The weight is about the same as Concrete tile, about 9 to 12 pounds per square foot. Verify with a structural engineer that your roof trusses are sizes to hold the heavier weight of concrete tiles.
  • Types and Lifespan: There are many types of Clay Tile roofing designs. There is the classic spanish tile with its barrel pattern and alot of newer patterns that are made to look like wood shingles or other variations of the barrel. The lifespan of clay is very long. There are roofs in europe that are over 100 years old. Check with the manufacture of the product you are considering to get their lifespan estimate.
  • Cost: Clay tile cost about

Concrete Tile

Concrete tile is similar to clay tile in alot of aspects. It is also most often used in warmer climates but newer construction methods allow it to be used in colder climates.

  • Construction: Concrete tiles are made from concrete poured into molds into various shapes and colors. The weight is about 9 to 13 pounds per square foot, the weight can be lighter if light weight concrete is used. Verify with a structural engineer that your roof trusses are sizes to hold the heavier weight of concrete tiles.
  • Types and Lifespan: Patterns are varied with many patterns available. The colors range from blue to red, black, tan, brown etc. The lifespan of concrete varies with the manufacturer but they typically have an estimated life of 30 to 50 years.
  • Cost:

Metal Standing Seam

Metal standing seam is a very durable lightweight roofing material. It is most often thought of as a commercial, or mountain cabin roof but it is being used more often in residential neighborhood situations.

  • Construction: Metal standing seam roofs are made from galvanized metal or aluminum. They are coated with special paints that are very resistant to fading. Besides the standard colors you can order from the factory any color you like. Metal standing seam roofs are made up of panels that are about 16 inches wide and as long as your roof so there are no seams from the ridge to the eves. They are ordered in the proper length to fit your roof.
  • Types and Lifespan: Standing seam is just one type of metal roof, the term "standing seam" refers to the vertical point that stands up every 16 inches. This verticle seam keeps the seam off the lower part of the material and prevents leaks as well as adds to the rigidness of the roofing material. The standing seam is where the fasteners are installed. The lifespan for metal roofs is very long, usually at least 50 years, verify with the manufacturer of the product you are considering
  • Cost:

Metal Tile

Metal shingles are available in steel or aluminum.

  • Construction: Metal Tiles are made from either steel or aluminum.
  • Types and Lifespan: They can be covered with ceramic granules to make them look like asphalt shingles and protect the color from fading or they can be smooth. They can look like clay tiles or concrete tiles. It is amazing the variety that metal tiles have brought to the roofing market.
  • Cost:


Slate roof are another classic roof. They have been around for hundreds of years.

  • Construction: Slate is a type of stone. It is cut from quarries out of the earth with heavy machinery and then cut into shingles. It comes in many colors depending on the part of the earth it is mined from. Different colors come from different minerals. These different minerals have different densities which change the durability of the slates so you will want to verify the qualities of the slate you are considering. One note is that harder slates are more brittle and break easier. Softer slates absorb water and are more susceptable to negative freeze thaw effects.
  • Types and Lifespans: Slate roofs are often described as 100 year roofs. Verify with the manufacture the exact life expectancy of the slate you are considering. There are different thicknesses of slates from 1/4 inch to 1 inch with the 1 inch thicknesses being very heavy and on the longer end of the lifespan.
  • Cost:

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