Residential Roofing Materials Guide

Roofing shingles continue to be a leading roofing material in residential construction. Roofing shingles are not all created equal, they can be made from asphalt, metal, cedar or a synthetic roofing material. If you are looking to install a new shingle roof, it is important to get a sense of what different types of roofing shingles have to offer in terms of cost, quality, durability, longevity and protection for your home. Roofing shingles also vary in color and architectural style, which means that as a homeowner you have a wide variety of choices to create a custom look that suites your preferences and complements the design of your home. It is important to be aware that some roofing contractors may insist that you buy a specific type of shingle. To avoid being scammed or getting a low quality roofing material, you need to do your own research to figure out what roofing shingle type may best meet your demands for quality, style and cost.

Different Types of Roofing Shingles

Asphalt Roofing Shingles

Asphalt roofing shingles are the most commonly installed roofing shingles on residential homes across the US. Asphalt roof shingles offer a variety of style choices at a budget price. It is the combination of looks and affordability that makes asphalt roofing shingles the top choice for many homeowners who are looking to either do a re-roof or install a brand new roof on a budget.

Asphalt roofing shingles are made from a base material which may either be a fiberglass mat (most common today) or an organic felt, covered with asphalt coating and a top layer of mineral granules for additional protection. Asphalt roofing shingles are relatively lightweight and are easy to install and repair, handy homeowners can even do the work themselves without hiring an professional roofing contractor. Typically asphalt roof shingles have a service life of 25-30 years. One of the biggest downsides to using asphalt shingles is that this is not an environmentally friendly material: it cannot be recycled at the end of its service life and has go to into our landfills.

You can either choose the economical three- dimensional asphalt roofing shingles, which are light weight and provide a flat look, or go with more expensive laminated (architectural) roofing shingles, which is heavier and can give your roof a more sophisticated look that will have depth and dimension. Overall there are many colors, styles and textures to choose from in the family of asphalt roofing shingles, with laminated shingles providing more options and better curb appeal than three-dimensional shingles. Read full guide to asphalt roof shingles.

Metal Roofing Shingles

Metal roofing shingles are a major upgrade from asphalt roofing shingles, because they are built to last a lifetime, offer superior durability and protection, require virtually no maintenance and offer great curb appeal, increasing the real estate value of your home. Metal roofing shingles come in many styles, colors, and metal options. Two of the most common types are interlocking shingles and overlapping tiles. Metal roof shingles can provide you with a looks of natural slate, clay tiles or cedar shingles at a fraction of the cost and a much longer roof life.

Metal roofing shingles are made in factory settings using a stamping manufacturing process on an industrial size press. They are stamped from a steel, aluminum or copper coils of certain thickness. Metal roofing shingles are also extremely durable and are made to withstand sever weather, such as hurricanes, hail and snow storms. Metal shingles roofs are also insect, mold, rust, and fire resistant, providing greater protection and health benefits to the inhabitants of the home. Moreover, metal roofing shingles is an eco-friendly roofing material, because 95 % of it can be recycled at the end of its long service life.

One of the biggest factors that deters more homeowners from installing metal roofing shingles on their roofs is the initial high price. However, a metal shingles roof is a smart long-term financial investment; it does not need to be replaced and requires minimal repair over its lifetime. A metal shingles roof also provides higher energy efficiency, all of which translates into major savings over the long haul.

Cedar Roofing Shingles

Cedar roofing shingles are one of the few natural, green roofing materials on the market. Cedar is an even-grained wood that ranges in color from light blond to deep chocolate brown, and weathers gracefully to shades of gray. Cedar roof shingles are sawn on both sides for a tailored appearance. They are available in several sizes: 16 inches or Fivex; 18 inches or Perfection; and 24 inches or Royal nominal lengths.

Cedar roof shingles cost more than most other roofing materials, however they offer homeowners a beautiful natural look, as well as longevity, durability and increased energy savings. Cedar roofing shingles have exceptional insulation properties, which means that you can heat and cool your home for less. Moreover, cedar shingles are heavy, so they actually act as a second insulation layer for your home. These properties are particularly advantageous for homeowners who live in colder climates, as your house will loose a lot less heat through a cedar shingle roof, saving you money on your heating bill.

Cedar is considered to be the toughest wood in the world. This means that a cedar roofing shingles roof is extremely strong and durable, it is the only roofing material that actually adds strength to the structure. Cedar Shingles can produce a gain in absolute strength, adding about 4 lbs per sq foot. Moreover, cedar roofing shingles have natural preservatives that resist moisture, decay and insect damage. This roofing material can withstand tough weather conditions and temperature fluctuations.

Read full guide to cedar shingles and shake roofs.

Synthetic Slate Roofing Shingles

Synthetic roofing shingles are made of highly durable plastic and other synthetic materials and fillers such as wood dust, that are molded to look like slate impression or cedar shingle impression. Many of these materials are also impact resistant and heat resistant. Synthetic shingles are installed in the same manner as real slate roofs, but offer the benefits of being much lighter, easier to install and nail down, as well as non-brittle. Compared to natural shake roofing, synthetic roof shingles provide unsurpassed durability and a life cycle savings of up to 50%. Synthetic shingles come in a variety of sizes, colors and styles, offering a wide range of design possibilities. Synthetic roofing shingles offer many other benefits such as: excellent protection against water leaks, freeze/thaw resistant, Class A fire rated, and wind resistant to 110 mph. Also, many synthetic roofing shingles are manufactured with recycled rubber and plastics, which makes them flexible, sustainable and environmentally friendly.

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