Tim Barber House & Home | Blog | How to Select a Roof | When selecting the roofing material for your Tim Barber House & Home plan, it is important to consider the climate, house style and budget...

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How to Select a Roof
2.10.16

When selecting the roofing material for your Tim Barber House & Home plan, it is important to consider the climate, house style and budget in choosing the best option for your house.

From natural materials like slate shingles and wood shakes to man-made products such as asphalt, sheet metal and plastic polymers; there are many types and styles of roofing available today. Each has its advantages and shortcomings.

Which one is right for you? First, consider:

  • How long will it last?
  • Does it hold up during natural disasters such as wildfires or hurricanes?
  • Is it too heavy for the roof framing?
  • Will the look complement the style of the house?
  • Are the materials eco-friendly and recyclable?
  • Is the type of roofing allowed by local building codes?
  • How much does it cost?

Pros and Cons

Some types of roofing may be better suited for your house than others. Factors such as the slope of the roof and strength of the framing could limit your choices. In areas prone to wildfires or hurricanes, look for a product with a high fire rating or good wind resistance.

Let’s explore the different types of roofing available:

Asphalt Composition Shingles

Asphalt Composition Shingles

Asphalt shingles are the most popular type of roofing for homes:

  • Materials: Made of paper fiber mat fiberglass permeated with asphalt and coated with mineral granules.
  • Appearance: Available in traditional 3-tab shingles or thicker laminated “architectural” shingles.
  • Eco-Friendly: Since asphalt singles are a petroleum-based product, they are not considered eco-friendly. However, they can be recycled, although they are often taken to landfills. It is also important to note that darker colors tend to absorb heat.
  • Durability: Warranties range from 20-50 years. Algae resistant shingles are available in humid climates to prevent staining.
  • Weight: Light in weight.
  • Slope: Can be used on fairly low to steeper sloped roofs.
  • Fire & Wind: Good fire resistance, fair wind resistance.
  • Cost: Inexpensive to moderate.


Metal Roofs

Metal Roof

  • Materials: May be composed of steel, aluminum, copper, or zinc alloy. Steel roofs come with either a zinc coating or painted finish. Copper roofs are installed unfinished and acquire a protective green patina with age.
  • Appearance: Available in sheets or in shingles that resemble other materials. Can be installed with the fasteners hidden (standing seam) or exposed.
  • Eco-Friendly: May be made from recycled materials and can be recycled when replaced. Absorb a third less heat than asphalt.
  • Durability: Fairly to very durable, depending on the material.
  • Weight: Lightweight.
  • Slope: Available for low or steep sloped roofs.
  • Fire & Wind: Good resistance to both fire and wind.
  • Cost: Varies: moderate (steel) to expensive (copper).


Plastic Polymer

Plastic Polymer Roof by DaVinci Roofscapes

(Photo credit: Courtesy of DaVinci Roofscapes)

  • Materials: Molded from a plastic polymer material.
  • Appearance: Made to resemble slate or wood shakes.
  • Durability: Claimed to be long lasting and low maintenance - although the life-span and replacement costs of these roof are not yet verified.
  • Eco-Friendly: Some are made from recycled materials. Can be recycled when replaced.
  • Weight: Light to moderate in weight.
  • Slope: Can be used on moderate to steep sloped roofs.
  • Fire & Wind: Good fire and wind resistance.
  • Cost: Moderate.


Clay Tile

Clay Tile Roof

  • Materials: Made from natural clay which is fired in a kiln.
  • Appearance: Traditional Italian or Spanish in appearance, these can also be made to resemble wood shakes or slate.
  • Eco-Friendly: Made from natural materials but requires significant energy to manufacture.
  • Durability: Long lasting and low maintenance but brittle and can break.
  • Weight: Heavy, require reinforced roof framing to support.
  • Slope: Can be used on moderate to steeper sloped roofs.
  • Fire & Wind: Excellent fire resistance, fair to low wind resistance.
  • Cost: Expensive. 


Concrete Tile

Concrete Tile Roof

(Photo Credit: Courtesy of Noah Webb Photography)

Less expensive than clay tiles, concrete roof tiles are also heavy and can last a long time and are very fire resistant.

  • Materials: Made from a mixture of Portland cement and sand.
  • Appearance: Can be made to resemble traditional clay tiles, wood shakes, or slate. Color can be throughout tile or only applied on the surface.
  • Eco-Friendly: Made from natural materials but requires significant energy to manufacture.
  • Durability: Long lasting and low maintenance. Less brittle than clay tiles but can break.
  • Weight: Heavy, require reinforced roof framing to support.
  • Slope: Can be used on moderate to steeper sloped roofs.
  • Fire & Wind: Excellent fire resistance, fair to low wind resistance.
  • Cost: Moderate.


Slate

Slate Roof

(Photo credit: Courtesy of Karyn Millet Photography)

Though brittle and expensive, it is very durable and resists both wind and fire.

  • Materials: Made from natural slate rock.
  • Appearance: Usually dark gray with irregular appearance.
  • Eco-Friendly: Made from natural materials.
  • Durability: Long lasting, durable (depending on where quarried).
  • Weight: Heavy, requires reinforced roofing structure to support – although a clip-system has been devised to reduce the weight.
  • Slope: Steep sloped roofs only.
  • Fire & Wind: Good fire and wind resistance.
  • Cost: Very expensive. Requires specially trained workers to install. 


Wood Shingles and Shakes

Wood Shingle Roof

Wood shingles and shakes made from rot resistant woods have low fire resistance, unless they are treated with a fire-retardant chemical.

  • Materials: Commonly made of cedar, but can also be made of other rot resistant woods, such as redwood.
  • Appearance: Gives natural look, weathers to a silvery gray. Available in sawn shingles or thicker split shakes.
  • Eco-Friendly: Made from natural materials.
  • Durability: Short lifespan and requires periodic maintenance.
  • Weight: Moderate in weight.
  • Slope: Can be used on moderate to steep sloped roofs.
  • Fire & Wind: Good wind resistance, poor fire resistance (can be treated with a fire retardant).
  • Cost: Moderate.


Your roof is your home’s single most important defense when it comes to protecting it from the elements. When you’ve considered the cost, weight, and durability of the options, then look for the color and textures you prefer. But keep in mind that the materials traditionally used on houses like yours were traditions for a reason - they worked. As we like to say at TBH&H, we often learn best from the past.