When building a new home or doing renovations on an existing one, there are so many options out there for everything from the kitchen sink to the bathroom lighting fixtures and your roof is no different. The simplest way to begin understanding your choices in roofing are to break them down. Here in the U.S., we have 4 main categories of roofing materials for pitched roofs (we’ll save the flat roof topic for another day). These 4 categories are: Asphalt Shingles, Tiles, Wooden Shingles, and Metal.
Asphalt shingles are one of the most prolific roofing materials in North America. This type of shingle is made up of an organic or fiberglass base that has been saturated with asphalt and covered with granules of various materials, such as stone, slate, quartz, etc., to improve its durability. Some of the many reasons asphalt shingles are so popular is because they are inexpensive, simple to install & repair, hold up well in storms, and come in a huge variety of colors suitable for almost all home architectural styles. Some of the drawbacks to an asphalt shingle roof are that it has relatively shorter lifespan than other roofing materials (15-30 years), requires a bit more maintenance, and is not environmentally friendly to dispose of.
Tiles are another very popular roofing material with many varieties available from the curved Spanish style tiles found in Southwest to the flat tiles found on colonial homes in the Northeast and Midwest. Roof tiles have historically been made from local materials such as slate and terracotta, but some modern man-made materials, including fiber reinforced concrete, are now in use as well. The major pros of using a tile roof are that the style is unmistakably beautiful, they are a historic material, they have a very long lifespan (100+ years), and are relatively simple to maintain. Some of the cons involved with using tile are that it is an expensive material, can sometimes be complex to install, and stronger roof framing may be required to support their heavy weight.