What Is the Best Roof for Your House?

| October 13, 2012

asphalt shingle roofing As the first barrier against the elements, your roof is one of your house’s most important structural features. Choosing the best roof for your home means knowing the pros and cons of roofing materials.

Asphalt shingles

Asphalt shingles, a common type of roofing material, are composed of a base that contains either an organic “felt” made of paper fiber and wood or a material consisting of manmade fiberglass matting. The biggest benefit of asphalt shingles is their affordability. They tend to be the least expensive roofing choice. On the downside, asphalt shingles aren’t as durable or long-lasting as other roofing choices.


Generally made of coated steel, aluminum or copper, metal roofing has become popular because of its many benefits. It is long-lasting, fireproof and mildew-proof, and it holds up well under inclement weather, including high winds. In addition, metal tends to slough off snow and reflects heat during the summer months. Metal roofing, however, can be noisy during rain and can rust out before its time if used on coastal homes.

Wood shake

Composed of wood, with cedar being the most common, wood shake roofs are one of the most attractive roof types. On the positive side, wood shake roofs are long-lasting if properly maintained, insulate well and allow air circulation. On the negative side, wood shake roofs are expensive and susceptible to mold, rot and insect damage. Unless treated with fire-retardant materials, wood shake is also a fire hazard and therefore banned in some fire-prone areas.

Ceramic tile

Ceramic tile roofing comes in a variety of styles. This roofing material is long-lasting, resists rot and insect damage, and is inexpensive. On the downside, ceramic tile roofs tend to be heavy, requiring stronger support, and are breakable.


Composed of real rock, as its name suggests, slate roofing can last hundreds of years and is considered particularly attractive. The benefits of slate roofing include the fact that it’s fireproof and insect-resistant and offers a distinctive look. Negatives include the fact that slate is heavy, requiring extra support to install, is breakable, and pricey.


Also known as an eco-roof, this alternative roofing consists of live plants, irrigation and drainage. Such roofs offer an eye-catching aesthetic component, tend to reduce storm-water runoff, and keep the home well-insulated against the elements. Cons are that such roofs require the expertise of a structural engineer during installation and must be monitored for leaking.


Fiber-reinforced cement can be used to create a wide variety of roof styles. This material offers several benefits, including the fact that it is long-lasting, low-maintenance and resistant to rot, fire and insects. It is a heavy material, however, that requires additional support during installation.

Understanding the various roofing materials allows you to determine the best roof for your home.

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Category: Home & Garden, Roofers & Roofing

About the Author ()

Julie Bawden-Davis is a Southern-California-based writer specializing in home and garden, real estate, small business and personal finance. Since 1985, her work has appeared in a wide variety of publications, including Family Circle, Ladies’ Home Journal, Better Homes & Gardens, Entrepreneur and The Los Angeles Times. Julie is a University of California Certified Master Gardener and has written five gardening books, including Reader’s Digest Flower Gardening.