The Different Types of Roofing

The harsh sun, strong storms, and other weather conditions can significantly impact a roof’s longevity. Whether thinking about repairs or a full-scale re-roofing, it’s best to know what is involved.

There are many roofing options available. This guide will give you an overview of the different varieties and their pros and cons. Click Here to learn more.

A shingle is a thin piece of building material, usually with one end thicker than the other. Roofers lay shingles in overlapping rows to create a protective covering for homes and other buildings. Shingles come in a wide range of colors, shapes, and materials. Some are made of natural materials such as wood or slate, while others are manufactured from asphalt, clay, or metal. Shingles can be used to cover flat or pitched roofs and are often used for siding as well.

Most shingles are designed to withstand the elements and last for many years. A shingle’s main function is to protect the roof from rain, snow and hail, which could otherwise seep into the structure of the house and cause damage over time. Other properties of a shingle that help to ensure its durability include the ability to shed water quickly and to provide fire resistance.

There are several types of shingles, and the type you choose will largely depend on the aesthetics of your roof and home. For example, a slate shingle may be an excellent choice for a home or extension that is aiming for a stately or historic appearance. However, this shingle type is also expensive and requires a skilled tradesperson to install.

In contrast, an asphalt shingle is the most common and affordable option for new construction or replacement roofing. These shingles have an outer layer of decorative granules that enhance the appearance of your roof while protecting it from harmful UV radiation. The granules are held in place by an underlayment of waterproof sheets of felt or other material.

The inner layers of an asphalt shingle are composed of a durable base of asphalt that serves as a water-shedding membrane and holds the granules in place. These layers are covered by a layer of fiberglass mat to add strength and to reduce the risk of tearing.

A shingle’s durability depends in part on how well it is maintained. A regular cleaning of the shingle surface helps to remove dirt and debris and prevent moss growth. It is also important to have proper attic ventilation (which includes both intake and exhaust) to keep the attic cool and minimize condensation that can lead to ice dams.


Shakes are split wooden shingles that provide a rustic, natural look to roofs. They are a popular choice for homeowners seeking to add character and charm to their homes. Although shakes can be more expensive than shingle roofs, they can also last 20 to 30 years or more, making them a sound investment for homeowners.

Wooden shakes are handmade from cedar and are available in a variety of shapes, sizes, and textures. The varying grain patterns, ridges, and grooves in the wood create a rich depth of dimension and variation that enhances the overall beauty of the roof.

When selecting shakes or shingles, pay special attention to the way the grain is cut. A shake or shingle with a flat grain is less stable and may split or distort more easily over time than one with an edge grain. Edge grain is cut at a 90-degree angle, perpendicular to the rings of the tree. You should always select shakes or shingles with an edge grain, even though they will cost more.

As a rule, shakes are more prone to mold, mildew, and other moisture-related problems than shingles. Because of this, shakes typically require more maintenance and inspection than other roofing materials. Also, because they are made of a naturally flammable material, wood shakes are at more risk for fire than shingles.

Because of this, they must be treated with fire retardants and other preservatives to ensure their longevity. Failure to adhere to specific recommendations may void a manufacturer’s fire-rating warranty.

Shake roofs are more difficult to repair and replace than shingle roofs because they are installed in a layering pattern that makes it hard to access the area beneath individual shingles. However, if your shakes are properly maintained and protected with proper coatings, they will remain beautiful for a long time.

Like shingles, shakes need to be stained or treated regularly with special products to protect them from water damage and prevent rot. Staining or treating a shake roof every 1-3 years will help to keep it in good condition, prevent mold and mildew growth, and extend its life. Additionally, it is important to maintain regular gutter cleaning and to trim overhanging branches to prevent them from rubbing against the shakes and causing damage.


Metal roofs are a familiar sight on barns and agricultural buildings, but these versatile and durable structures can be used to cover nearly any residential, commercial, or industrial building. The roofs are made from a variety of materials, including galvanized steel, galvalume steel, copper, aluminum, and tin. They come in a range of colors, styles, and finishes, and can be fitted to suit any architectural taste.

All metal roofing starts out as coils of metal, which are then rolled out and processed into sheets for the actual roof panels. These panels are shaped into the desired ribbing structure and can then be connected together or seamed to create a complete roof. The metal may be painted or coated to protect the exterior from weathering, corrosion, and UV radiation.

Most metal roofing is fastened using screws or nails that penetrate the surface of the panel. This leaves the fasteners exposed, which some people find aesthetically displeasing. However, there is a type of metal roofing that is fastened using concealed fasteners. This eliminates the need for exposed fasteners, but it may be more expensive.

Many metal roofs are fabricated to include a layer of insulation, which helps keep the building cooler in warm weather and warmer in cold weather. However, it is important to note that the addition of an insulation layer can decrease the life span of the metal roof. The reason is that the insulation can cause moisture to build up underneath the metal, which can lead to corrosion and rusting of the metal.

Another common problem with metal roofs is that the fasteners can become loose or dislodged over time. This can lead to water infiltration into the structure, which can cause structural damage and interior leaks. This can be caused by winds, rainstorms, or simply the passage of time. The best way to avoid this is to ensure the fasteners are tightened regularly.

Some types of metal roofs are also more vulnerable to lightning strikes than others, but the likelihood of this happening is significantly lower than with other roofing materials. However, if a lightning bolt does strike, it won’t set the metal on fire, as some people fear.


Tile is a flat covering typically made from hard-wearing materials such as ceramic, stone, baked clay or even glass, fixed in place to cover surfaces such as roofs. They are usually set into mortar consisting of sand and Portland cement, or a latex additive in the case of rubber or glass tiles.

The most common types of tile are clay, concrete and slate. These roofing materials offer different architectural styles and aesthetics, while also providing durability and longevity for the homeowner. They are available in a variety of colors and designs that complement many building styles, making them a popular choice for homeowners who want to add style and elegance to their home.

Clay is a traditional roofing material that has been used in China and the Middle East for over 10,000 years. These tiles are molded and baked to create different shapes and sizes, and they come in a range of colors. They are the longest lasting roofing material, with temples using tiles more than 1000 years old. Clay roofs are insulating and can help lower heating and cooling costs in the winter and summer.

Proper installation is critical for tile roofing. A good underlayment is required, and a full waterproofing system should be installed. In addition, special fastening methods and reduced exposure may be needed for low-sloped roofs.

A tile roof needs to be inspected regularly for leaks, cracks and chips in the tiles. If a damaged or missing tile is found, a professional can repair or replace it.

Concrete roof tiles are very durable and have a long lifespan, often reaching the lifetime of the structure itself. They are also fire-resistant, a feature that can help protect homes from costly damages in the event of a wildfire.

A concrete tile roof requires a thick underlayment, as well as special fastening techniques. It is also important to install a water barrier, as most concrete tiles do not provide complete weather protection on their own. Additionally, yearly visual inspections can identify debris accumulation in valleys and moss growth on the surface that could impede rainwater drainage. Periodic cleaning and treatment with biocides or zinc strips can keep these organisms in check.