6 Common Types of Roofing Materials and Which One is Right For YOU

Published on April 12, 2019

So, you’re looking to replace your roof? You may have figured out that the task isn’t as easy as it first seems.

You have so many choices to make. The first and perhaps the most important thing to consider is what material to select for your roof. What material you choose depends on a series of factors, including your personal taste, budget, region, availability, and durability.

The following is a look at the six most common types of roofing that you can choose for your home and also, what are the benefits and drawbacks of each.

1. Asphalt Shingle

The most common roofing material choice in Canada is far and away asphalt shingles and it’s no secret why. First, it’s relatively low-priced compared to many other options. Also, it’s made of a very durable material with a wide range of colors and designs. “Three-tab” shingles were the most common form of asphalt roofing. They’re used to create a flat and uniformed look for the entire shingle segment.  

In recent years three-tab shingles have been replaced in popularity by a different type of asphalt roofing, called architectural or dimensional shingles. Architectural shingles are thicker, heavier, more durable and much more resistant to wind uplift. They come with a longer warranty as well. They don’t’ have a flat look and are designed to look more like a wood shake.

Fiberglass asphalt shingles are the best, most affordable roofing method for 95% of the population. They are also far superior to the organic based asphalt shingles of the past. In addition, fibreglass asphalt shingles offer superior protection with the highest fire rating, when installed in a system, which promises a greater degree of protection against the spread of fire in a home.

Beyond protection, they are also far easier to install than many other types of roofing materials. This not only reduces the length of time the homeowner is inconvenienced throughout the installation process, it also reduces the installation time. This benefits the homeowner by reducing the overall labour costs of the project.

Another benefit of asphalt shingles is, when they are installed by factory certified installation team, the homeowner can benefit from enhanced warranty coverage, meaning a greater degree of protection for the investment you’ve made in your roof.

2. Metal  

Metal roofs are appealing for people who value longevity and durability. These people often live in areas that experience storms and other types of inclement weather. Metal roofs can be made from a few different materials including zinc, steel, copper, aluminum, and tin.

Metal roofs are usually more expensive than shingle roofs, however they typically do allow for excellent warranty coverage. Metal roofs have experienced a decent level of popularity in North America. However, many homeowners in Canada opt out of metal roofing because of the risks and hazards associated with ice chunks and snow which are commonly known to slide off and cause accidents and damage on the ground.

You may also find it difficult to find contractors that would need to work off of a metal roof for future projects. One example is replacing siding on a split-level home, where a sided wall extends up from a metal roof. Many contractors won’t be interested in quoting out of safety concerns and the risk of damage to the metal or it’s painted finish.  

3. Tile

Tile is some of the heaviest material that people use for roofing, however it is relatively unpopular in Canada. Though to its benefit, tile can be extremely durable, lasting decades on some roofs.

Tiles for roofing can be made from a range of materials, including concrete, ceramic, clay, porcelain, and synthetic materials. The type of tile you choose can help you achieve the look you want. For example, clay or ceramic tiles can help you achieve the look of a Mediterranean or Spanish style home.

Tile roofing is also substantially much more expensive than both shingles and metal but is sometimes known to last longer. Unfortunately, tiles heavy weight can be too much for the roof framing in many Canadian built homes. Therefore, if you’re considering tile, it’s important you have a certified building inspector complete a full structural inspection of the home. This means analyzing the homes overall strength and integrity to guarantee the buildings structure can support the weight of a tile roof.

4. Slate

Slate is a natural stone covering that is well-suited to roofing. It’s resistant to fire and water and has a long lifespan. Natural slate roofing is one of the most expensive roofing options. It’s highly valued for its longevity, beauty, and historic look.

The material does have one drawback to it: fragility. Natural slate can be fragile compared to other roofing materials, making maintenance that requires walking on the roof difficult, and any work related to the roof extremely expensive.

5. Wood

Wood roofing comes in two styles: shakes and shingles. Shakes are split on one or both sides of the wood. They’re usually thicker at the butt end than shingles and are commonly made from cedar.

Shingles are sawn on both sides and have a thinner butt end. Other woods that are used for wooden roofing include pine, cypress, and redwood.

Homeowners find wood-surfaced roofs appealing for the organic appearance it gives to homes. However, wood is the least durable of roofing materials and won’t last even close to as long as some of its counterparts. Wood shake and shingle roofs can also develop rot, brittleness, water penetration, animal damage, moss, and mildew, which means regular maintenance.

If you’re willing to put in regular maintenance and treatments, then a wooden roof might be an option.

6. Rubber

Rubber is the newest roofing material to hit the scene. Rubber roofs are usually custom-made to fit the structure although they can also be cut into rubber shingles. Rubber is more durable and less prone to brittleness and disintegration from the weather than other materials. It is also proven to last a long time and offer fire resistance.

While rubber is vulnerable to punctures, the material is relatively easy to repair. However, rubber roofing can be expensive, and many people agree it doesn’t have the same natural appeal and appearance as some of the other options. So if aesthetics are important to you, rubber might not be the right fit.

Other Materials to Consider

Besides these common roof surface materials, there are other materials used to varying degrees for roofing. These include thatched roofs, bitumens blended with plastic or rubber, fiber-cement roofing, polyurethane foam, membrane roofs such as thermoplastics, and others.

How To Choose Which Roofing Material is Right For Your Home

When choosing a roofing material it really comes down to personal preference. However, if you were to compare all the options side-by-side and weigh the benefits and drawbacks of each material, asphalt shingles win by a long shot.

With their excellent protection against our Canadian winters, their durability, the ease with which they can be installed and repaired, the endless colors and designs options, plus the excellent warranty coverage, and to top it off, the most economical and affordable roofing material… It’s no secret why asphalt shingles are the number one roofing material choice for all Canadian homeowners.

If you have more questions about your upcoming roofing project, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 519-727-6622 and speak to one of our roofing professionals.

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