Last week, we investigated signs that may indicate that your roof is a little worse for the wear. If replacement is your best option, deciding what kind of roof is right for your house will be a matter of weighing three things: existing structure, budget, and aesthetics.

First, structure. How many layers of roofing are already in place on your home? Are you hoping to install a new roof over an existing one to save money? As Consumer Reports notes, “If you need a new roof, and two layers of roofing are already in place, building codes require stripping the roofing down to the sheathing. Most homes are strong enough to support two layers of roofing, but installing some of the heavier laminated shingles over even a single layer may overstress rafters and other structural parts of your home.” So, before you make any decisions about what type of roof to install, you’ll need to assess the situation and determine if you need to have two layers of old roofing stripped before moving forward.

Now, let’s look at roofing materials.

Choosing the Right Roofing Material

As with any home improvement, there are many styles of roofing available to the consumer. Each comes with its own benefits and drawbacks.  Weigh your concerns about style with your budget priorities!

Asphalt Shingles: A Great Budget Option

Asphalt Shingles are durable and affordable. Asphalt shingles are the most commonly used roofing material, and they are available in a wide variety of colors and styles. As Consumer Reports explains, “Asphalt roofing comes in two types. Laminated shingles, also known as ‘architectural’ or ‘dimensional’ shingles, are layered, and their thickness and depth make them look more like slate or wood shakes. Three-tab asphalt shingles, though similarly priced, are made in a single layer. They’re flatter and thinner than laminated shingles and didn’t perform as well.” In addition, some designer asphalt shingles are indistinguishable from pricier, slate shingles.

Asphalt shingles have good fire resistance, and their wind resistance isn’t bad, either.  These shingles have traditionally been less energy efficient than other roofing materials, but new styles that incorporate more reflective granules have earned Energy Star ratings. However, many composite asphalt shingles contain petroleum products, so, as Lee Wallender at The Spruce notes, “the cost of composite shingles is influenced by oil prices, as they are derived from petroleum. This means that prices can fluctuate due to pressures outside of the roofing industry.”

Standing Seam Metal Roofing

Standing seam metal roofing is an affordable and striking alternative to traditional shingle roofing. One of the most important benefits of metal roofing is that it is practically impermeable, so it provides wonderful protection for your home. A standing seam metal roof is comprised of metal panels that are fastened together by metal seams that sit raised against the panels. As Wallender notes, “Because seams are always the weak point with any kind of building material, especially roofing, raising the seams above water level is a key advantage” that protects your roof from moisture.

Standing seam metal roofing is not just durable and resistant to harsh weather; it’s wind and fire-resistant, too. It also imparts a beautiful look. It can be painted any color to match the design of your home. This can be a real benefit for homeowners whose homes experience high summer sun exposure: painting the metal roof a lighter color helps reflect some of those rays.

The largest drawback to standing seam metal roofing is the cost. It’s more expensive than traditional shingle roofing, so you’ll have to weigh the benefits of aesthetics and durability with this downside to decide if it’s right for you.

Slate and Wood Shake Roofing

These two types of roofing materials are the stuff of most homeowners’ dreams. That’s precisely why they’re the most expensive options!

Slate roofing is very heavy, so if you are looking to add on a second layer of roofing over an existing one, it’s likely that your home’s structure will not be able to bear a new slate roof. If you’re starting from scratch, slate certainly imparts a beautiful look. Slate is a durable material, and it has great fire resistance. But it is very slippery to walk on, so walking around on the roof can prove to be especially difficult. Nonetheless, many homeowners love the look of slate. (Luckily, you can recreate this look with other options!)

Wood shake roofing is a natural material, usually made of cedar or redwood, so it comes with many of the benefits and drawbacks that we’ve discussed before: it ages beautifully aesthetically-speaking, but its lifespan can be much shorter than other roofing materials if it’s not properly maintained. Obviously, it does not possess good fire resistance, but it can be treated with fire retardants. The most attractive feature of this option is its curb appeal!

What kind of roofing material is right for your home and your budget? We’d love to hear from you, and we’re here to help if you’re not sure where to start.