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Roofing Materials Guide: Which is Right for You?

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When it comes to constructing your roof, you have several options for design and materials. Each varies according to overall cost, appearance, lifespan, and durability. For residential roofing projects in the US, homeowners typically choose from four different categories: asphalt shingles, clay tiles or shingles, metal roofing, or wooden shingles/wood shake.

1. Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt Shingles - JK Roofing

Asphalt shingles are among the most popular materials used for residential homes in the United States. They are durable, inexpensive, easy to install and come in a wide variety of colors and textures. They are also fire-resistant, can be impact resistant, and have options for added waterproofing.

Asphalt shingles can be prone to mildew if not maintained properly. They are also limited to sloped roofs and, since asphalt is sourced from petroleum, their pricing will fluctuate depending on the price of crude oil. Additionally, asphalt shingles cannot currently be recycled in the state of Colorado, which lacks the specialized facilities needed to do so. Wasted shingles can ultimately contribute to landfill waste.

Pros: inexpensive, durable, lots of options, easy to install and repair
Cons: shorter life-span, prone to mildew, environmental impact
Average Life-Span: 15-30 years, with architectural-type asphalt shingles lasting the longest. (Owens Corning has an excellent line of architectural shingles in many, many color options)

*The cost of roofing materials is typically expressed in “squares.” One square is equivalent to 100 feet of shingles.

2. Metal Roofing

Metal Roofing - JK Roofing

                                       Photo courtesy of www.decra.com

Metal roofing is another attractive option for homeowners, especially those looking to mimic certain expensive materials like wood and clay without the cost. It is durable, affordable, and can look very high-end. There are several manufacturers, for example, that produce metal roofing that has the appearance of old-world tile or cedar shake.

Metal roofing is also extremely durable and non-combustible. It lasts far longer than asphalt shingles and is more lightweight, which puts less strain on the home’s framework. Many metal roofing materials are produced from recycled materials and are themselves, 100% recyclable.

Metal roofing can be significantly more expensive than traditional asphalt shingles. They can also be more complicated to install and may require additional insulation to muffle potential noise.

Pros: attractive, durable, long-lasting, eco-friendly
Cons: More expensive, complicated installation
Average Life-Span of Metal roof: 50-100 years

3. Clay

Clay Roofing - JK Roofing

Clay roofs are often found in areas exposed to higher temperatures and salt air, like the coastal areas of California and Florida. They are some of the most durable roofing materials, lasting 100 years or more! This is partially because they are not subject to rot, mildew, or insect damage. They are also another eco-friendly option: made from natural materials that can easily be ground up and reused as needed.

Clay roof tiles are expensive and weigh considerably more than asphalt or metal options. Not all homes will have the framework necessary to support this weight. Although clay tiles can withstand hail and wind, they are not ideal in areas with severe temperature fluctuations. They are also prone to breakage when stepped on, so workers will need to take extra care during maintenance and repairs.

Pros: beautiful, durable, exceptionally long-lasting, eco-friendly
Cons: fragile under pressure, expensive, specialty maintenance required, not good in all climates
Average Life-Span: 100 years or more

4. Wood Shake and Wood Shingle Roofs

Wood Shake and Wood Shingle Roofs - JK Roofing

                                    Photo courtesy of www.customshingles.com

Wood shake and wood shingles offer a unique, rustic look with longevity comparable to asphalt shingles. Wood shingles are identical in size and shape, giving the roof a more uniform look. Wood shake is traditionally hand-split, resulting in a more textured appearance. Both materials come in a variety of colors and options and create interesting curb appeal. They are biodegradable, making them an eco-friendly option.

Wood shake and wood shingles are more costly and higher maintenance, needing fairly constant attention to prevent mildew, cracking, warping, and drying out. If not properly maintained, repairs tend to be more costly than for other materials. They are also naturally more flammable and will require periodic treatment with fire retardant to reduce combustibility*.

Pros: curb appeal, eco-friendly
Cons: high maintenance, costly repairs, flammable
Average Life-Span of Wood Shingle Roof: 25-30 years
Average Life-Span of Wood Shake Roof: 35-40 years

*Certain counties may actually not allow for the use of wood shake or wood shingles. You and your roofer will want to double-check any building codes and regulations before beginning your project.

J&K Roofing is Materials-Certified

At J&K Roofing, our team is certified in every material we use. You can be confident that we have the knowledge and experience to help you build a beautiful and long-lasting roof, whatever material you choose. Get in touch with us today to see how we can help with your next roofing project.

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