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How to Choose Roofing Materials

October 23, 2017
How to Choose Roofing Materials

So Many Options, So Little Time.
When it comes to materials, you’ve got a lot of options. Whether you’re replacing a worn-out roof or simply making a cosmetic
upgrade, the material you choose will be key to your new roof’s longevity and appearance. There are many choices for recovering your damaged or dated roof, and each comes with different attributes and advantages. Think about these tips as you consider your choices.

How to Choose Roofing Materials

Asphalt Shingles

By a wide margin, asphalt shingles make up the most common type of roofing material in the United States. Asphalt is available in a wide variety of colors and styles for every taste and budget. Asphalt is popular for a reason: it gives you a lot of value for your dollar. There are three things to consider when selecting an asphalt roof. First, of course, is the color. You’ll want to pick a color that works well with your home’s design, complementing the bricks and paint. An experienced roofing company can help make design suggestions, but ultimately the decision will be up to your personal taste. Second, there are different textures to choose from for your asphalt shingles. A popular option is the “architectural shingle” roof that uses thicker layers to create shadows and a sense of depth that looks better than the traditional, flatter, thinner shingles do. They often come with a longer warranty — up to 30 years — and don’t cost a whole lot more than regular shingles. Third, be sure to pay close attention to the warranty. Make sure you pick an installer with a great track record with customers, a long time in business and a guarantee of their work, including installing the materials according to the manufacturer’s warranty specs.


Slate is much pricier — and therefore a more exclusive — choice of roofing material. A natural rock, slate is almost indestructible as a roofing material, often lasting 80 years or more. It typically outlasts the fasteners that hold it in place. While its cost keeps it limited to high-end homes, the classy look and unsurpassed durability of slate roofs make this a timeless choice. Just make sure you plan ahead because slate roofs need extra-strong framing to hold up their heavyweight.

Wood Shingles

Wood shingles are another unusual but stylish option. This traditional roofing material takes more time and skill to install than other roofing options, and it requires regular maintenance to keep it in good shape. Still, for woodland cottages or coastal retreats, genuine wood can add rustic character that can’t come any other way.


Because of the cost and weight of slate and the drawbacks of natural wood shingles, some companies have begun manufacturing synthetic options that last longer and typically cost less. Local building rules in many areas, especially in the West, have banned wood shingles because of fire danger. The use of “imitation” wood shingles is becoming more common as homeowners want the look of a traditional roof while still meeting modern fire safety standards. They’re also far more durable than wood. Rubber or synthetic slate roofs have also been gaining in popularity because they cost and weigh about a third less than natural slate. From the street, viewers might not be able to tell the difference, but your wallet sure can.


Metal roofs have been a popular option in rural America for decades. They offer great value because it has a longer lifespan than traditional roofing materials and is easy for professionals to install. With proper maintenance and optimal conditions, metal roofing will cover a building almost indefinitely. The cost of metal roofing can vary widely, though, depending on what metal it’s made from and how it’s put together. Metal roofing comes in a variety of materials, including steel, aluminum, copper, zinc or an alloy of multiple metals. There are
also varying grades and thicknesses.


Finally, for people who love the Mediterranean or Spanish architectural styles, there’s just one choice for an authentic look:
ceramic tiles. Like slate roofs, tile can be rather heavy, so proper framing must be in place to support the weight. And like other high-end roofing materials, a quality tile roof can last for generations. The upside to tile roofs is their low-maintenance durability, impressive fire resistance, and unmistakable style. The downside is the cost since it can be pricey to buy the materials and labor-intensive to have it installed.

Call Us Today

If you are in need of roofing, windows, siding or gutter work, please contact us today and set up an appointment. McKinnis is safely serving the Blair, Omaha, and Lincoln areas, and we would be happy to help you with your next home exterior project!

Copywriter: Loraine Ellis, Enterprise Publishing
Editor: Traci Matthew, McKinnis Inc.