Which Roofing Material Should I Choose?

Which roofing material should I choose

Looking after your property’s roof is one of the most important things you can do as a property owner. Roofs play a very critical role in protecting the overall integrity of the building. They shield against rain, snow, ice, wind, fire and other elements, keeping your home warm, dry and safe. Along with their durability, roofs also affect your home’s style and aesthetic value.

For these reasons and others, choosing the right roofing style and material for your home is not a decision you should take lightly. A high-quality, long-lasting and durable roof is a serious investment of both time and money. Depending on the style and materials used, a roof may also require significant maintenance and care over the years. In addition to doing your research, you can also reach out to an experienced, professional roofing service to advise you with any specific questions or concerns that you may have.   

Popular Roofing Styles and Materials

When picking the proper roofing materials for your home, keep aesthetics, durability, longevity, cost, climate and structure in mind. As a homeowner, you may feel overwhelmed by the variety of roofing material choices. The following list encompasses some of the best and most popular roofing materials:  

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt composition shingles are the most popular roofing material in America, especially when it comes to home projects. About80% of American homes have asphalt shingle roofs. A blend of a few different materials makes up asphalt shingles. Typically, the shingle base contains either a paper fiber mat, which is cold- and wind-resistant, or fiberglass, which is resistant to fire and moisture.

Contractors then cover these bases with a blend of asphalt and small, granulated minerals. Asphalt shingles can come in a variety of different styles, making them a versatile roofing option:

Three-tab asphalt shingles are the most popular roofing material and style used on American homes. These shingles have an excellent reputation because of their uniform look, ease of installation, variety of color options and budget-friendly cost. These shingles can last between 30-50 years.

Though structurally similar to three-tabshingles, architectural shingles are a desirable option due to their higher durability and longevity. Architectural shingles come at a slightly higher cost than three-tab and last up to fifty years. Aesthetically, they can more closely resemble cedar shakes or other wood shingles.

Designer shingles are made from the same materials and in a similar fashion to that of three-tab shingles. However, you can customize designer shingles in terms of the shape and color of the shingles themselves. Many homeowners choose designer shingles because they are a cost-effective option that can add character and curb appeal to a home.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofs are highly desirable in some climates because of their durability. Many homeowners who live in snowy areas prefer metal roofs because of their strength and longevity. In wildfire-prone areas, metal is also a frequently used roofing material because it is entirely fireproof. Metal roofs can be an excellent investment due to their longevity, durability and sleek style. 

Example of metal roofing on a house

Cedar Shake Shingles

Rot- and moisture-resistant woods, such as cedar and redwood,make up wood shingles. They are a beautiful roofing option, often found in luxury homes. The common type of wood shingle is the cedar shake — shakes are made using a thicker cutting style than typical wood shingles. Cedar shakes are known for their striking appearance and are strongly associated with Cape Cod-style homes.

Unless specially treated, wood shingles are among the least fire-resistant roofing options. However, Cedar shakes can be fire treated making them a Class C fire code often for an additional cost. A wood roof can last about sixty years, though, in damper climates, they may only last about twenty years.

Evaluating the Pros and Cons of Different Roof Types

As you consider which roof type is best for your home, keep the following factors in mind.


With each different type of roofing material, weight is an important consideration to keep in mind. Not every home will be able to withstand the weight of some of the heavier types of roofing. Perhaps surprisingly, metal roofs tend to be among the least heavy, weighing between 80 and 150 pounds per square (a square is about 100 square feet). America’s most popular roofing material, asphalt shingles, can weigh between 190 – 350 pounds per square. 

Cedar shake has a similar weight, about 200 – 350 pounds per square. The heaviest types of roofs will be those made from clay tiles and slate shingles. Clay tiles can range from 600 – 1800 pounds per square; slate shingles weigh 800 – 1000 pounds per square. Consult with a roofing professional about weight concerns. They will be able to advise you about the structural capabilities of your building. 


Roof installation, maintenance and repairs can be some of the costliest parts of being a homeowner. As such, you will likely consider durability a critical element when thinking about the ROI of your roofing choices. Durability can be evaluated based on several factors– for example, weather resistance, fire resistance, and overall quality of the roofing material itself. Of course, the extent to which you rate these factors for your home will vary. For example, slate shingles, clay tiles and asphalt shingles all possess good fire resistance, while wood shingles/shakes need to be fire treated. This will likely be more of a concern for homeowners who live in wildfire-prone areas than for homeowners who do not. The potential for ongoing maintenance is another aspect of durability. 

Asphalt shingles are relatively inexpensive and fire-resistant and require lower maintenance than wooden or shake shingles which need to be sealed every 5-10 years to protect the lifespan of the shingles. 


As you may have guessed, the longevity of different roofing types has a strong correlation to the initial cost of each. Significant advantages of asphalt or wood roofs are their relative affordability, low weight and accessibility. The disadvantages of clay tile and slate roofs are, for most homeowners, their heaviness and expensive price tags.  How highly you value longevity as an advantage, as well as any budget constraints, will likely determine the extent of its influence on your roofing project.    

Other Roofing Elements to Consider

There are a few other elements to consider when choosing the right roofing material for your project. A roof’s impact on insulation is a consideration, as is roof shape. In addition, in most cases, a home’s roof is visible from nearly every angle. As such, a roof can contribute significantly to the overall appearance and curb appeal, and you should not overlook its potential for aesthetic value. 

Other roofing elements to consider


The primary function of a roof is to protect the building which it covers from the elements or any other unwanted intrusions. Insulation of the home is undoubtedly a part of this. However, roof material may not have as much influence on your home’s insulation as you might think. The impact of different roofing materials on insulation is so slight compared to a home’s interior insulation elements that it should not be a significant determining factor for selecting a roof type.

Metal roofs have virtually no insulating properties. The insulating ability of other common roof types, like asphalt, wood, and clay, is measurable. Clay and slate tiles, also possess a natural ability to store heat. This can be excellent quality for homes in cold climates and the winter months, but it may not be desirable in warm locales. A roof’s color may also impact the extent to which it is insulating. 

For example, a light-colored roof will reflect away the sun’s light and heat, while a dark-colored roof will absorb it. Some places may have building codes restricting different roof colors, so check with your local community if you think this may be the case.  

Roof Appearance

The aesthetic of your home’s roof is an essential factor, especially in terms of ROI and resale value. For example, if you live in a location where Cape Cod-style homes are highly sought after, installing a Cedar shake roof may be a great boon to your home’s resale potential. Having an ugly or out-of-style roof can genuinely impact the overall value of your property. Real estate studies indicate that homes with good curb appeal sell anywhere from 7% to 14% higher than homes without it. Consequently, it is not a vain or surface desire to want your roof to look pleasing with the rest of your home. Like roof color, roof style and appearance may also be subject to HOA rules or building code restrictions in your area. Your contractor may be able to advise you regarding those types of issues.  

Contact Sunshine Contracting Corp.

Picture of asphalt shingles on a home

Choosing a contractor can be a stressful and nerve-wracking decision. Naturally, you will want to do business with trustworthy, experienced professionals. With over 28 years of experience, Sunshine Contracting Corp. has a proven track record of providing the highest-quality roofing services throughout Northern Virginia. 

Sunshine Contracting is proud to have an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, and earned the Angie’s List Super Service Award nine years in a row, along with a host of other certifications and honors.

Sunshine Contracting specializes in roof installation, along with many other exterior remodeling services. Our trained and certified installers offer expert craftsmanship, customer service and reliability. We offer lifetime warranties for many of our services, as well as financing options. Contact us today and we will be happy to help you with your roofing needs.  

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