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Your Extensive Guide to Residential Roofing Options

While a lot of homeowners may favor certain roofing options, there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution for residential roofing. Rather, what’s best for you is what will address your needs the most. It’s important to take the selection process seriously, starting with getting to know the residential roofing options available to you.

Asphalt Shingles

Average Lifespan: 15-20 years

Also referred to as composition shingles, asphalt shingles are probably the most popular roofing option in the United States, favored by homeowners for understandable reasons.

First, they are the most affordable roofing option, making this roof ideal for anyone looking to work with a budget. There are also more upscale options that are pricier, but, overall, asphalt shingles are highly cost-efficient.

Second, they look beautiful. Even as a budget-friendly choice, asphalt shingles can certainly make your home stand out. They come in two options: 3-tab and architectural shingles. Three-tab shingles feature slits in front so every piece looks like it’s made up of three smaller shingles. Architectural shingles, on the other hand, have a more dimensional look, creating a richer appearance that makes a roof look anything but standard.

Third, all roofing contractors know how to install asphalt shingles. Your best bet, however, is to make sure your roofing contractor is certified by top roofing manufacturers like GAF and CertainTeed® to guarantee proper installation work and ensure best results.

Other advantages of asphalt shingles depend on the brand and the shingle type you choose. For example, many include fire resistance, hail and/or wind damage protection and mold and mildew prevention. To help boost energy efficiency in the home, some options may come with cool coatings that reflect heat, helping you avoid excessive passive heating that can interfere with maintaining desired temperatures indoors.

Metal Roofing

Average Lifespan: 50-20 years

Metal roofing started out as a dependable roofing choice for agricultural and industrial structures, but it has been steadily gaining popularity as a residential roofing option as more and more homeowners are seeing what it has to offer. They can mimic the appearance of wood shakes or shingles, but they commonly come as standing seam panels that can stretch up to 20 feet long and 16 inches wide, making it possible to reach from ridge to gutters without seams.

They are great for modern or contemporary homes, but will work just as well on traditional properties depending on how they are used. Aside from sleek looks, metal roofing also features strong fire resistance, a light weight that makes handling and installation easy (it can even be used in reroofing over on an existing asphalt shingle roof), and durability that can withstand harsh weather.

Wait. Doesn’t metal roofing attract lightning?

No, it doesn’t. Lightning actually hits the highest point in an area. This means all roofing options have the same risk of getting hit by lightning if they are on the same elevation. And when a home does get hit by lightning, having a metal roof is actually beneficial because it helps in dissipating the charge evenly to the ground, preventing further problems.

For those looking for a green roofing solution, metal roofing is ideal because not only is it recyclable, helping ease trash in landfills, but it is energy-efficient as well. Metal is indeed a heat conductor so it absorbs heat. However, it is also highly emissive, meaning it easily releases whatever heat it does absorb. Additionally, metallic surfaces reflect a lot of the sun’s heat back, helping prevent heat transfer into the home that can impede normal heating and cooling functions.

Slate Roofing

Average Lifespan: 100+ years

Looking for longevity? Nothing can give you that quite like slate can. Quarried in Virginia and the Northeast, slate is a natural rock. Because of this, it is naturally durable, allowing it to weather literally any storm. It also features a surface that easily sheds rain and snow, helping prevent issues that may arise due to water pooling or not properly drying out. Slate also won’t burn, lending a level of fire resistance to a home that is great in areas where wildfires are common.

Because it is natural rock, slate boasts a natural appearance that is both elegant and timeless. It can also be unique as rocks don’t always follow a uniform pattern of gradation. If you’ve always wanted a one-of-a-kind roofing system, this is it.

Slate roofing is usually found on traditional homes with steep roofs. And once it’s installed, it’s not impossible for a slate roof to outlast the property it’s on, thanks to its incredible durability. This also makes it a green roofing option as replacing slate roofing typically doesn’t even happen in one lifetime.

Tile Roofing

Average Lifespan: 50-100 years

Clay or concrete tiles are common on Spanish-style homes. They usually feature a concave design but can be made to mimic other roofing options like wood shakes and shingles, or slate. Long-lasting, they are best suited for relatively dry climates. They will also not burn, making them ideal for homes in areas prone to wildfires.

Aside from being naturally durable, this residential roofing option is naturally energy-efficient as well, its concave design creating natural ventilation in a roofing system. With air flowing freely through each tile, overheating is prevented, avoiding unwanted thermal transfer from occurring and messing up a home’s intended indoor temperature. Preventing overheating also helps in extending the roofing option’s lifespan by keeping premature deterioration in check.

Tile roofing can also be good for those looking for green roofing options because they have a long lifespan, placing the need for a replacement (a source of trash) far in between. And when they do get replaced, clay and concrete tiles can be recycled into new building materials.

Wood Shakes and Shingles

Average Lifespan: 30 years

For that good, old Old-World charm, nothing will beat wood shakes and shingles. What’s the difference between the two? Hand-split, shakes are thicker and have rougher surfaces while machine-cut shingles are thinner, more uniform in shape and sawn flat. As they are thicker, shakes can be expected to last a bit longer than shingles.

Best for bungalows, cottage-style homes, Cape Cods, Craftsman homes and Tudors, wooden roofing is beautiful, but it can take your property’s curb appeal to the next level as they age, weathering through the years to develop a timeless, classy gray patina. If you want to make an older home more historically accurate, adding wood shakes or shingles might do the trick.

Fire resistance can be a concern with wooden roofing, but shakes and shingles can be treated to meet building code requirements. Concerned over sustainability? When this roofing systems have reached the end of their lifespan, they can be turned into mulch for use in gardens.

What to Choose

Again, the best residential roofing option for you is what will address your needs the most. If you put a premium on cost efficiency, then asphalt shingles will work for you nicely. Want something durable and energy-efficient? Metal roofing will be right up your alley. A roof that lasts? Slate roofing has you covered. How about a naturally cool roofing option? You won’t be disappointed with tile roofs. Must absolutely have that Old World charm for your home? Wood shakes and shingles are the way to go.

Whatever residential roofing option you choose, keep one thing in mind: always work with a reputable roofing contractor in your area. Roof replacement can be a significant investment, so you’re going to want to make sure that you only have the best professionals by your side, guaranteeing the success of your roofing project.

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