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Which Roofing Material Should I Choose Based on My Roof Type?  

June 3, 2021


If you’re thinking about getting a new roof, you probably have a lot of questions. Which residential roof types can handle the materials you like most? Is the structure strong enough? What about flat roofs? At Diversified Roofing, we want to help put you at ease with the knowledge that you can get a durable roofing material that will look great with your home style. Let’s talk about your options and how they might fit with your house.

Common Residential Roof Types

In order to choose the right kind of roofing materials, you need to know what type of roof you have. It’s likely that your home has some variety of gabled roof. At Diversified Roofing, we think it’s a good idea for any homeowner to know the common residential roof types:

  • Gabled Roof: Two basic sides, although there are different styles
  • Hip Roof: Four sides with slopes leading to a ridge at the top
  • Gambrel Roof: Two slopes on two sides, often resembling a barn
  • Shed Roof: One-sided roof with a consistent pitch, popular for sheds and detached garages
  • Flat Roofs: Roof with a very low or flat pitch, common for commercial buildings and residential outbuildings

For most homes, you can choose the material that you like best and that suits your budget. Keep in mind that the age of the roofing structure and the pitch will also affect your options. Flat roofs and older homes with a very high roof pitch have the most limited selection.

Residential Roofing Materials

If you’ve been noticing signs that you need a new roof, you might be ready to panic at the thought of replacing it. At Diversified Roofing, we know that making a choice of roofing material is a major investment. It’s not just how your home looks, but how it feels and how it protects you too.

Metal

Picture a roof that is built to last for a few decades, in a color that perfectly suits your home exterior. It’s probably made out of metal. You can typically choose from steel, aluminum, zinc and copper. The material is generally lightweight, which means you can have it installed on a variety of roofing types, even those with a low pitch. It’s also highly durable, lasting up to 50 years with good care.

Metal roofing typically comes in a couple of styles. The first is called a standing seam. This roofing material comes in panels, which makes installation quicker and more durable. The second is shingles, which are similar to what you would see in an asphalt, wood or slate roof.

Asphalt

Asphalt is the bread and butter of roofing, as it’s the most common type. Each shingle has a fiberglass mat with asphalt and granules on top. Asphalt is one of the most affordable roofing options and can last up to 20 or 30 years with good care. If you lose a shingle or two, roof damage repair is easier for asphalt than it might be for other options. It won’t work for a roof with a low pitch, but it’s reasonable to install on almost anything else.

Clay/Concrete Tile

Clay tiles are hugely popular in the southwest. They are fire-resistant and will help to keep your home’s interior cooler. They cost more because they’re heavier and harder to install. The tiles themselves can last 100 years or more, but they’ll crack if you step on them wrong. Tile works for some low pitch roof structures, but not all of them. If you’re looking for an affordable option with a similar style, concrete tile might be a good choice.

Slate

Historically, slate shingles provided some of the most durable and beautiful roofing you could find. There are homes that are hundreds of years old that still have the original slate roofing. You’ll probably pay the most for this choice, but you get it back in durability and longevity. If you want a material relatively sustainable and lasts literally forever, for a roof with a moderate pitch, this is it.

Wood

It’s hard to beat the lovely appearance of wood shakes or shingles on a roof. It was the material of choice in the U.S. for many years, until worries about wildfires and the cost of lumber made asphalt a more practical option. Wood is harder to maintain and it doesn’t last as long, but like clay or slate, it’s got a unique look. If you’re hoping to find something that has the timelessness of a 19th Century cabin, wood may be a good option to consider.

Roofing Materials Based on Structure and Pitch

Choosing a roofing material usually involves a discussion of pitch. Roof pitch is measured as a ratio that represents the rise. A roof with a 4:12 pitch increases four feet in height for every 12 feet of length. If your roof has a pitch between 4:12 and 12:12, you can probably have whatever you like. Older homes, especially Victorian styles with a roof pitch of 18:12 or higher, can usually handle metal, clay or asphalt. Roof types with a low pitch, including flat roofs, may need a totally different approach to roofing material. The most popular options for a flat roof include PVC and built-up roofing with hot tar and gravel.

Roof structure also determines your choice. If you’re dying to install slate, you will need to have a professional evaluate your existing roof structure and determine if it will support the weight. Roof replacement is also a good time to inspect the existing one’s condition. At Diversified Roofing, we take pride in ensuring that your roof is ready to handle installation of new material.

What Are the Best Materials for My Roof?

If you’re not sure which one to choose, it’s a good time to call the experts. One of the most important things you can do before making a decision on your new roof is to call an experienced roofing contractor. At Diversified Roofing, we can come to your home and show you the roofing options that will look best on your home. To learn more, schedule a free estimate.

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