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What Type of Roof Should my Home Have

Maybe your roof has been getting on in years. Maybe you want to give your house a fresh new look. Whatever your reason, there is a multitude of options when it comes to choosing what type of roof to have. Each one is able to breathe new life into the way your house. We'll go over the pros, cons, and prices of the different types of roofing materials available to you. Before you make changes to your home's appearance make sure to consult your homeowner's association to see which types of shingles and what color options are allowed for your neighborhood. (Trust us, it'll save you a headache.)

A common term when discussing roofing materials is squares. A square is equal to 100 square feet of material. So if a house has a roof that needs 1100 square feet of shingles that needs to be replaced, a contractor would purchase 11 squares for the job.


Asphalt shingles are the bread and butter of roofing in North America for their price point and the protection that they offer. They are referred to as 3-tabs in the roofing industry, and these shingles are the default on many homes. They offer a manufacturer's warranty within the range of 25 years and are rated to handle winds up 60 mph. Asphalt shingles offer a traditional appearance to a home with a flatter, more muted look. Many suburban houses use this to their benefit and use asphalt shingles to bring a common theme to a neighborhood.

Architectural shingles, also known as laminated or dimensional shingles, are the premium alternative to traditional 3-tab asphalt shingles. They are made with a fiberglass base and coated with ceramic mineral granules that make them water-resistant. With a strong base and overall construction, architectural shingles are less likely to curl compared to that asphalt. They come in varied sizes and colors which help to give the illusion of a wood shake or slate roof. This facet gives their moniker of dimensional shingles. These shingles also boost the aesthetics which can add to the resale price of your home.

The cost of asphalt shingles cost is 75 to 90 dollars per square (100 square feet of shingle) and 110 dollars per square for architectural shingles. A major factor when comparing architectural shingles to 3-tab is their durability.  Architectural shingles sport an extended manufacturer warranty of 30 years, 50 years, to even a lifetime warranty and are rated for 110 mph to 130 mph winds. Weightwise, they are on average 50 percent heavier than 3-tabs, with the added benefit of being flame retardant being a bonus to homeowners looking for a long-lasting solution to their roofs.

Wood Shingles

Another option in roofing construction that has been used for centuries is wooden shingles. There exist two different types of wooden roof covering, wooden shingles and wooden shakes. Wooden shakes have an uneven texture on their surface from where they were split off from a block of wood by a mallet and froe (sharp blade) or human power tools. Shingles, on the other hand, are machine made and because of that, the shingles are uniform in their form. Shakes are thicker compared to shingles usually 1/2" to 3/4" with their taper towards the butt end, and shingles range from 3/8" to 1/2".

Wooden shingles have by far the most variations on their appearance and the levels of quality. Below are the differences in the classes of thickness and length along with their wood grades that make up wooden shingles and shakes.

Thickness and length:

Fivex: 1/4″ thick by 16″ long

Perfection: 3/8″ thick by 18″ long

Royal: 1/2″ thick by 24″ long

Different types of Wood Grain

Edge grain: Cut perpendicular to the tree rings. The highest quality and most stable cut, least likely to split or distort over time.

Flat grain: Cut parallel to the tree's growth rings. Less stable than edge grain, but better than slash grain.

Slashgrain: Cut perpendicular to the tree rings, but at an angle. Most likely to split or distort over time.

Wood Grades

Grade 1: The highest quality. Made from the tree’s heartwood (the harder timber found in the inner part of a tree trunk), 100% edge grain, with no defects, often used in roofing and walkways.

Grade 2: Sound quality. Manufactured from flat grain, with some sapwood allowed. Limited knots and defects are possible above the clear portion (it will show once shingles are installed). This grade is often used for re-roofing, as a starter course, or for a wall.

Grade 3: Can include sapwood and flat grain. In the clear portion, there are limited knots, and defects are allowed to exist. It is usually used for the undercourse in a two-course application, garden sheds, or walls of outbuildings.

Under-coursing: A utility grade for under-coursing of double coursed sidewalls. This should not be used as roofing material and should not be used as a starter course for roofs.

Types of Wooden Shakes

Wooden shakes are only cut from grade 1 wood with no defects giving them a more premium quality. They are usually installed on a roof with a pitch of 4:12 and steeper.

Heavy split and resawn: sawn on the back, while the front is split with the natural grain creating a natural texture on its surface. They give a rustic or rugged style that can pair with a home. Being the heaviest type of shake, heavy split and resawn are available in thicknesses of 3/4″, 7/8″, 1″ and 1 1/4″+.

Medium split and resawn: Similar to heavy split in appearance and with a textured look. The added benefit is that they are not as thick or heavy, with available thicknesses of 1/2″ and 5/8″.

Tapersawn: They are like wood shingles in that they are sawn on both side, but they are thicker. Which results in a tailored look of a shingle with the sharp shadows of a shake because of its thicker butt. This has to lead to the taperswan to become the most popular wood shake roof due to it being able to adapt to many different types of home style. It is available in thicknesses of 5/8″, 7/8″ and 1″.

Installation and Longevity

The lifespan of wooden shingles and shakes can vary depending on the wood and can go from 30 to upwards of 80 years. The price for shingles can be within the ballpark of $250 to $550 a square while shakes can range from $650 to $1,100 a square. The use of wood shingles or shakes may be restricted in your due to the local building codes. Consult your roofing contractor when exploring your options.

Metal Roofing

The price for a metal roof can be compared to other premium options on the markets of around $150 to $600 a square. If you aren't planning on staying in your home for a long time, then you wouldn't be able to capitalize on your investment. As well as benefit from the lack of seasonal maintenance that comes from this type of roofing.

The strengths of having a metal roof are in their superior lifespan, as a correctly installed metal roof can last as long as the house it's installed on. This combined with metal's resistance to rot, insects, mold, and fire along with warranties of 30- 50 years show that they are a reliable option. Installations are usually quick as the roofing comes in prefabricated sections allowing for a professional roofing contractor to shave a day or two off of the job's overall time.

The weatherproofing that metal roofs offer can be a significant factor in areas that experience heavy snow and rainfall. The interlocking panels that comprise metal roofs block water from seeping through and snow from penetrating. Having darker coats applied to the roofs sections can help warm up snow and accelerate the melting time. A parallel to metal's high weatherproofing is its high fire resistance; its low combustibility gives it a Class A fire rating. However, if a metal roof is installed on top of old wooden shingle, its fire rating of the roof can be dramatically lower. This is because of the potential of the heat on the metal's surface to ignite the material beneath it.


Some of the drawbacks of metal roofing come from the noise that is caused by rain or hail. This can be dampened by having materials underneath the paneling that acts as buffers and minimizes the sound. This along with applying insulation can kill any unwanted sound from traveling into the house. Depending on what type of metal you use, denting from heavy hail can be on the list of your concerns, but some of the materials on the market are more resistant to denting.

Like with all of the material, the quality of installation plays a massive roll in the longevity of your roof. As panels without proper fastens can bring water in through screw holes and prematurely age or damage the panel. Saltwater corrosion appears in coastal homes and often exempts them from warranties by paint providers due to that fact. Different types of metals can combat this type of corrosion like aluminum and zinc, but that only postpones the effects of saltwater on metal.


Slate has been used as the roofing material of choice with many churches and castles in the 14th century. This has made them the defacto first choice when it comes to renovations in historic areas. Slate shingles have a texture that is held in high regards as the process of creating and handling slate has to be done with great care. The material for creating slate comes from quarries and they all hold characteristics of the locations they were mined from. With all of these factors, you need a roofing contractor with experience in handling slate to ensure that your roof is installed correctly.

With the advancement of technology, we now have a material with the appearance of slate but without the weakness found in traditional slate. That material is called composite slate, or synthetic slate, it totes a lower price tag and warranties within the range of 25 to 50 years. Composite slate can handle impacts from hail and can be walked on without damaging it. It shares a high fire resistance just like traditional slate but has a lower weight. Just coming in at 1.25 pounds per tile.


Slate is very heavy. Its weight is around 800-1,500 pounds per square so installing it you'll have to have your home evaluated to see if it can take the extra weight.

Slate is expensive. It is one of the most expensive options for your roof, coming in with a price of $1,000 to $4,000 per square. But slate can becomes an investment to your home if it is installed correctly as it can last five times as long compared to other materials.

Slate is fragile. Another risk to worry about is that though slate has a long life, they are fragile, either by foot traffic, hail, or tree damage. So an inexperienced repairman walks across on your roof to fix an AC unit they might damage a few tiles on his work.

Final Advice

And that's everything that you need to know about the different options for your new roof. Each one of these options has there, but all of them are able to last the average length of a roof, 20 years. However, the most critical aspect in roofing is finding a professional that'll get the job the first time. In another article, we cover what you should know before hiring a roofing contractor.  You can now consult your roofing contractor and plan out what steps need to be taken to ensure your home's beauty and protection for years to come. Contact us at (860)-434-9540, for an estimate if you need your roof serviced. Or if you are ready to install a new roof on your house.

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