This slate roof will last a lifetime.

Whether you are building a new home or replacing the roof on your existing home, you have decisions to make about what kind of roofing materials to use. Considerations include how long you will be in your home, matching the neighborhood style, and expense. You certainly don’t want to put a $75,000 roof on a $150,000 house.

Here is a brief review of the various options in roofing materials, along with their pros and cons.

Asphalt Shingle Roof

Approximately 8 of 10 homes have asphalt shingle roofs. They are often the most affordable option, are easy to install, have a decent look, and can last 20 to 30 years. Installation costs can depend on the shape and style of your roof, and can rise if your roof is particularly steep.

Modern shingles, although most are black, can resemble slate or wood shakes, and can come in a variety of shapes like squares for a Colonial look or scallops for a more Victorian style.

Cons with asphalt shingles is that they tend to soak up the heat, and can transfer that heat to your attic space. You will want to properly ventilate your attic.

Cedar Shake Roof

Wood roofs require regular maintenance, which can become a problem for roofs with limited access. It also has the shortest lifespan out of all the roofing materials, and a high price—approximately three times that of asphalt shingles. Thick wood shakes can better stand up to weather and UV rays than their thinner counterparts, and can last up to 40 years.

A con for wood roofs is that they need constant attention. There is no “place it and forget it.” You must remove debris, eliminate moss or mold, and replace split or curled shingles immediately.

Metal Roof

For homes with particularly steep pitches, metal roofing is often the best option. Increasing in popularity, a metal roof has a longer life span—often up to 50 years. It can, however, be difficult to access because it may be slippery to walk on. It is fire-resistant, impervious to weather and quickly sheds rain and snow and ice, and reflects heat and UV rays, resulting in a cooler attic and lower cooling bills.

If you’re thinking a metal roof is not attractive, or that it is simply a sheet of metal covering your home, think again. Today’s metal roofs come in many styles to resemble rustic shingles, slate, barrel tile, slate, or more, but are much more lightweight and durable than these other materials.

Metal roofs are more environmentally friendly than asphalt shingle roofs. Rather than being dumped in the landfill, metal roofs can almost entirely be recycled.

A con with metal roofs is that they can cost up to three times an asphalt shingle roof.

Clay and Concrete Tile Roof

Clay and concrete tiles are a long-lasting option, with most enduring to 100 years. They are very popular on homes styled in Italian, Spanish and Mediterranean fashion, and stand up to most elements easily.

Concrete or cement tile is the more affordable option, while clay tile is actually more durable. You can expect to pay almost double per square foot for the clay version.

The biggest con with clay and concrete tile roofing is its weight. Often, internal supporting structures need to be erected to support the weight. It can also be difficult to install on steeply-pitched roofs, and can easily crack if walked upon.

Slate Tile Roof

Slate tile (stone) is one of the more attractive options, yet one of the rarest roofing types. It can be difficult to install, or to find a qualified installer, especially for high-pitched roofs. But people like its look, and it works on both older and newer homes. Faux slate or rubber slates may offer a similar look, but there’s nothing like the original.

Slate is also one of the most expensive options, and can cost up to 20 times other roofing materials, although it can also claim to be “the last roof you ever install,” with life spans up to 150 years.

As with clay and concrete tile, weight is a factor to be considered. You must have reinforcements in place to handle the weight.

All Roofs Need Regular Inspection

You will want to inspect your roof on a regular basis by a qualified home inspector, as weather, elements and aging can cause damage or leaks.

Need Help with Roofing Decisions? Call Först Consulting Group.

If you need construction advice, assistance hiring a contractor and contract negotiation, monitoring and review of work, thermal imaging for energy efficiency, or a private inspection, call Först Consulting Group. Or if you suspect a defect in the construction or installation of your roof, we can serve as a construction expert to help you avoid going to court, or as an expert witness should you have to go. Contact us today. Serving Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C.