Every house has to have a roof. A roof can be as distinctive as the home it covers.

Whether you are building a new home or re-roofing your existing home, there are several factors to consider as you decide what kind of roof to put on your house. Some of those factors are the type of materials used to construct your roof, the expense involved, the durability of the materials, the aesthetics or beauty, and the length of time you plan to live in your home.

It’s a Big Decision

There are several types of roofing materials on the market.  Some of these are metal roofing, shingles—both asphalt and wooden, tiles, slate, solar panels, and the new Tesla solar roof. Shingles and metal roofing are the best choices for do-it-yourself roofers. Keep reading for more information on each of these types of roofing materials.

Metal Roofs

Metal roofing has come a long way since the old tin roofs of our grandparent’s generation. Metal roofing can come in a variety of colors and textural designs. It comes in panels or shingles and can be made of aluminum, copper, stainless steel, or zinc.

Metal roofs have a long lifespan, of up to 75 years. The price for metal roofing has a very wide range. Simple styles start at $100 to $300 per square, but the more complex or fancy styles can start at $300 and run up to $600 a square. Metal roofs are lightweight and durable and recyclable, which makes metal roofing a good choice if you are environmentally conscious.

Metal roofing installation can be done by DIY’ers. The process is comparable to the installation of composite shingles. Reroofing your home with a metal roof will require a pretty good bit of construction knowledge. If you install your metal roof, be sure to comply with the warranty specifications on the materials.

Shingles

There are a few different shingle types that you may choose from. Each has their own set of benefits and drawbacks.

Wooden Shingles

Wooden and shake shingles have been used in home construction for hundreds of years. The wooden or shake shingles provide a pleasing look to a roof. Wooden shingles are typically machine made; wood shakes are handmade and tend to have a rougher look. Cedar, cypress, oak, locust, and poplar are all popular woods used for wooden shingles.

Wood shingles and shakes are natural products. It is possible to complete the whole roof on your own if you cut the shakes/shingles yourself and install them on your own.  The cost will vary if you make your own, depending on the availability and type of wood. Purchasing pre-made shingles will run about $100-$150 per square.

A caution about wood shingles or shakes: Wood shingles are more likely to rot, mold, or split than asphalt or composite shingles. Fire resistance is also something to consider.  If you live in an area that is prone to fire, be sure to get shingles that have been treated with a fire-resistant and fire-retardant coating. In some high fire zones, fire codes will actually outlaw wooden shingles.

Wooden shingles or shakes, if well-maintained in the right weather conditions and right climate zone, can last 25 to 30 years.

Asphalt or Composite Shingles

Asphalt or composite shingles are the most common and least expensive material used in roofing today.

Asphalt shingles come in a variety of colors, textures, and designs. Today you can find composite shingles that are reinforced with fiberglass or even organic materials. They range in price from $20 to $70 per square. If they are installed correctly and are well-maintained, asphalt or composite shingles should last between 20 and 25 years.

Asphalt and composite shingles are the best choices for do-it-yourselfers. Installation requires only basic construction skills knowledge. It is hard work to replace your roof with asphalt or composite shingles, but the savings can be significant. There are no special tools required: a hammer or nail gun, saw, and tape measure are the necessities.

One huge benefit of asphalt and composite shingles is the ease with which roof repairs can be made. Unlike some other roofing options, this material can be replaced or repaired in small sections. You do not have to replace an entire roof or large panel of the roof if you have only a small area of damage.

Tile and Slate Roofs

Another choice you can consider is between tile and slate.

Tiles

Clay and concrete tiles provide an elegant look in a variety of colors and textures. Clay, usually terra cotta, or concrete tiles are durable, long-lasting, and energy efficient. However, they are very heavy and must be installed by professionals. They are not designed for home do-it-yourself installation.

The roof structure of your house must be very strong and sturdy to support clay or concrete tiles. They look best on homes that have a Mediterranean or Spanish/Southwestern style, as well as roofs with a low pitch.

Clay or concrete tiles range in price from $300 to $500 a square. They are very durable, although they will chip and crack. In general, a tile roof will last about 40 years.

Slate
Elegant and sustainable slate roofing slabs are made from natural slate rock. The shingles are chipped in sheets at a quarry.  Slate roofing is primarily dark grey, but it can be found in a variety of colors: black, purple, green, and even pale red. Slate roofing is heavy—heavier even than clay tiles. It requires professional specially-skilled installation and, of course, a very sturdy roof structure.

If you want slate roofing, you’ll need to be sure you are using a reputable dealer. Some materials are of lower quality than others and will chip or become brittle. The price for slate starts at about $600 a square.  Slate roofs are better for steep roofs with a high pitch. They are fire and wind resistant and have been known to last as long as a hundred years.

Solar Options

A growing trend in domestic roofing is solar panels. Solar panels can be attached over your existing roof and generate energy in and for your home. Solar panels don’t necessarily replace your existing roof, but they do allow you to conserve and reduce the use of other, less environmentally safe, sources of energy.

Solar panels are a good choice if you aren’t replacing your roof but want to contribute to environmentally conscious living. Installing solar panels may qualify you for tax credits at the federal and state level.

The cost of solar panels will depend on your location, the size of the roof you want to cover, and your local solar providers. You can check this website for an estimate: www.solar-estimate.org.

Solar shingles are also available, but they are fairly new and still rather untested. Solar shingles also qualify for tax incentives and will, over time, reduce your dependence on utility companies. They have risen in popularity over the last few years.

If you are building a new house or replacing your entire roof, you might want to consider Tesla solar roofing. This roofing option is different from the solar panels that are installed over existing roofing; the entire home is roofed with Tesla solar roofing glass. Solar roofing is very expensive to install. The cost benefit of solar roofing is still being debated since Tesla only released their solar roofing plans in 2017.

One of the benefits of solar roofing is that you can become fully, off-the-grid, energy independent. According to Tesla, you can power your whole home with the energy produced by a solar roof. New technology demonstrates the Tesla solar roof is nearly unbreakable.

Tesla solar roofing is not sold by the square, but you get an estimate for the entire cost of your roof. If you are planning on living in your home for the next 50 years, the roof will pay for itself. Solar roofing is warrantied for 30 years.

The Cost Over Time

When you begin to think about replacing your roof, or as you are deciding which roof to put on your new home, consider how long you will be living in your home. One study suggests that most homeowners only stay in their home for around 13 years. As the homeowner, you’ll want to think about the cost of the investment of a roof and the amount of time you expect to live in that house.

If you are investing in solar roofing, for example, part of your estimated costs will include the length of time you will live in the home.  If you know you will be in the home for only a few years, you should keep that in mind when you decide on the type of roof. You will also want to consider resale value—the cheapest asphalt shingles may not improve the value of your home in the same way that a more appealing and expensive shingle might.

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