Choosing the Right Roofing Materials for Your House

By Annie Crawford 12-15-2020
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Choosing roofing materials for your home is a big, exciting decision. Beyond keeping your family safe and comfortable, your roof majorly impacts curb appeal. Most roofs occupy 40% of a home's visual exterior, so it makes sense that you'd want roofing materials that look good!

But there's more to deciding on a type of roofing material than color and design. Your regional climate, local building and fire codes, and budget all matter. Plus, your home construction factors into whether slate tile, clay tiles, asphalt shingles, metal roofing, or another roofing material might be best.

Here, we dive into four of the most common roofing materials to help you make the best choice possible.

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt is the most popular roofing material in the U.S. In fact, four out of five homeowners choose asphalt shingles. Most asphalt shingles are made from a fiberglass base that's been soaked in asphalt and coated with mineral granules to create a durable roof covering.

There are two categories of asphalt shingles: traditional 3-tab shingles, which are more affordable and built from a single layer, and laminate or architectural shingles, which can be two or three layers. 3-tab shingles are used due to their affordability, but laminate or architectural shingles are more popular due to their durability and greater range of design options.

Here's when to consider asphalt:

  • You have architectural roof details with tricky flashing needs.
  • You want distinctive color options and a variety of designs that can match the style and aesthetics of your home.
  • You prioritize ease and speed of install.
  • You want the wood shingle look with high fire and wind resistance. GAF Timberline® HDZ™— North America's top selling shingle has the highest roofing fire rating: UL Class A, Listed to ANSI/UL 790 and meets the industry's toughest wind tests ASTM D7158, Class H and ASTM D3161, Class F. In addition, when installed with the required combination of 4 qualifying GAF Accessories, it qualifies for the WindProven™ limited wind warranty*, the industry's first wind warranty with no maximum wind speed limitation.

Slate

Slate has a distinctive look that's often associated with high-end architecture and traditional Northeastern homes. Slate is metamorphic rock that's mined and cleaved into thin sheets for roofing. It's typically dark gray, but may be found in other colors depending on where it was mined.

There are three quality ratings for natural slate roofing—S1, S2, and S3. An S1 rating offers the highest resistance to water absorption and weathering, as well as the highest break strength.

Slate tile is attractive and offers natural durability. Here's when to consider slate:

  • You want the natural insulation that slate provides
  • You love the look and the durability of an S1-rated slate tile like GAF TruSlate®
  • Your home construction can support the weight of a slate roof
  • You want the natural durability that slate offers against the elements

Metal

Metal roofs come in a range of prices and types. Metal roofs can impart a modern, clean look when done in stainless steel, or lend a period aesthetic when done in copper. You can choose between metal shingles or standing seam metal roofing.

Popular metals include galvanized steel, aluminum, copper, zinc, and stainless steel. The metal you choose impacts your roof's strength and durability. It's important to note that some metal materials can dent easily from weather events such as hail. Here's when to consider metal:

  • You want the fire resistance that metal provides
  • You want the unique aesthetic of metal
  • You don't mind the noise of a metal roof when it rains or storms
  • You can invest in a quality metal material that will last

Clay

Clay roof tiles are naturally beautiful and commonly associated with Southwestern and Mediterranean-style homes. Clay tiles come in a range of colors and designs. Although they are traditionally handmade, most clay tiles are now machine-made.

Concrete tiles replicate the look of clay and typically cost less than clay. Clay roofs are hardy and durable, but they can become brittle over time and break more easily than some other roofing materials. Here's when to consider clay:

  • Your roof meets the typical slope requirements (2:12 or greater) for clay or concrete tile installation
  • Your home can support the weight of a clay tile roof
  • You want the fire, wind, and impact resistance of clay
  • You love the look of clay tile
  • You're able to afford clay roofing

Still have questions about which material will be right for your home? Check out our Virtual Remodeler to see how certain roofing materials and colors will look on your home. When you're ready to get started, contact a GAF factory-certified contractor** to discuss your options and request a cost estimate.


*15-year WindProven™ limited wind warranty on Timberline® Shingles with LayerLock™ Technology requires the use of GAF starter strips, roof deck protection, ridge cap shingles, and leak barrier or attic ventilation. See GAF Roofing System Limited Warranty for complete coverage and restrictions. Visit gaf.com/LRS for qualifying GAF products.

**Contractors enrolled in GAF certification programs are not employees or agents of GAF, and GAF does not control or otherwise supervise these independent businesses. Contractors may receive benefits, such as loyalty rewards points and discounts on marketing tools from GAF for participating in the program and offering GAF enhanced warranties, which require the use of a minimum amount of GAF products.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Annie Crawford is a freelance writer in Oakland, CA, covering travel, style, and home improvement. Find more of her work at annielcrawford.com.
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