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If you’re in the market for a new roof, too few options will not be a problem. New technologies and innovations now make it possible to have just about any look you desire, no matter where you live.

When choosing roofing materials, consider the following questions:

  • How heavy is this material?

  • Does it require special framing?

  • Does it come in a variety of colors and styles that complement your home?

  • Does it meet the fire codes in your area?

  • Are there any installation and maintenance issues?

  • Does it perform well in your climate?

  • What is the cost, life span, and warranty?

The answers to these questions, along with the following information, will help you determine the best choice for your home.


Pros: Asphalt comes in a variety of colors, is widely available, and is one of the least expensive materials. Cons: Typically has a shorter life span than other roofing materials, doesn’t provide the insulation other materials offer, and the quality varies. House Styles: Work with many architectural styles, especially traditional styles. Cost and Life Span: From $70 to $120 a square and, if maintained properly, shingles will last 20 to 25 years. (In roofing terms, a square refers to 100 square feet of roof or a roll designed to cover 100 square feet of roof.)


Pros: Long-lasting and non-combustible. They are great options for hot climates where salt air and high winds are present. Cons: They are expensive, heavy, and usually require additional framing. House Styles: Work well with Mediterranean, Mission, and Spanish- style homes. Cost and Life Span: Runs $200 to $800 and clay $500 to $1,000 per square installed. Life expectancy is 50 to 100 years.


Pros: Durable, lasts longer than asphalt or wood, and offers high solar reflectance. Cons: Relatively expensive, and installation may be an issue with some companies. House Styles: Looks great on bungalows, cabins, contemporary and cottage-style homes. Cost and Life Span: Starts around $100 to $300 a square, but some styles can cost $600 to $800 a square. Metal roofing can last 40 to 75 years.


Pros: Durable, fire-resistant, and a sustainable roof material that can be recycled. Cons: Expensive, heavy, and requires extra framing and professional installation. The quality can vary with imported slate. House Styles: Work well on homes with Colonial, European, Tudor, and French chateau architecture. Cost and Life Span: Starts at about $600 a square and up. Slate can last more than 50 years and sometimes 100 years or more.


Pros: Wood shingles offer a rustic look and are a natural product usually made from cedar, redwood, or southern pine. Cons: Fire codes in some areas prohibit their use. Wood shingles can be a concern in wet climates and can mold, split, or rot. House Styles: Rustic aesthetic pairs well with bungalow, Cape Cod, cottage, Craftsman, and Tudor-style homes. Cost and Life Span: Shingles — about $4.50 to $9 per square foot, installed. Shakes — around $6.50 to $11 per square foot, installed. In dry climates, a wood shingle or shake roof can last 60 years. In damp conditions, maybe 20 years


Pros: Often they are not as fragile, heavy, or expensive as natural products. Cons: Some products can absorb water, and the quality varies. Newer products aren’t as time-tested as traditional materials. House Styles: Work well with different architectural styles. Cost and Life Span: Starts at about $300 a square and are usually warrantied for up to 50 years.


A green roof is a layer of vegetation planted over a waterproofing system installed on top of a flat or slightly sloped roof. Green roofs are also known as vegetative or eco-roofs. Pros: A living roof offers improved air quality, less pollution, better insulation (reducing heating and cooling costs), water conservation, and wildlife habitat. Cons: Expensive to install. Reinforcing the roof of an existing home can necessitate expensive structural changes. Improper installation, inadequate drainage, or roots penetrating the protective membrane can cause leaks. House Styles: Work with many different architectural styles. Cost and Life Span: Depending on intensive, extensive, or semi-intensive, costs range from $10 to $50 per square foot. The average lifespan when properly maintained is 40+ years.


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