Home Buyers Guide to Different Types of Roofing Material

Which Roofing Type is Best? When you're looking at houses to buy, you'll see homes with all different types of roofing materials. Each type of roof can have advantages and disadvantages. Knowing the pros and cons of each can help you decide which type you prefer, and can even influence the type of house you end up buying.

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are the most common type of roofing material on residential homes in the United States. Asphalt appeals to homeowners for a variety of reasons. Shingles are (relatively) lightweight, economical and easy to repair. In appearance, shingles are made to mimic the look of shakes, although the difference between the two is usually obvious. Shingles last about 20 years if they're well maintained. The amount and type of maintenance that shingles require depends on the climate and weather where the shingles are installed.

For example, in wet cool climates, shingles can grow moss that must be removed periodically. In windy areas, shingles are at risk for blowing off of the roof, and lost shingles may need to be replaced from time to time. Fort Hunt homebuyers who would like to know what must be done to maintain shingles in their area can talk to a roofing contractor before purchasing their home.


Metal rooftops last for about 40 to 70 years, depending on how well they're maintained. Metal should be inspected periodically, and may require regular re-caulking or screw replacement. Some homeowners dislike metal because it's louder during rain storms, but this can be controlled by installing more insulation. In wet, cool climates metal can be advantageous because moss rarely grows on a metal roof.


Slate is an all-natural material that is durable and long-lasting. A well maintained slate roof can last up to 200 years. It's also very expensive, so it's rare on residential properties. This material comes in a range of colors, including gray, blue, red and green. Slate looks best on stately, hand-crafted homes because of its old world charm.

Unfortunately, slate is an extra heavy material that cannot be installed on a normal house without reinforcing the foundation and structure. If you're thinking about installing a slate roof after moving in, you may need to make changes to the structure before moving forward.

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic tile is common in the desert-southwest and other dry areas because it is fireproof. It's also beautiful when paired with homes made of clay or adobe. Like slate, ceramic tile is built to last many decades and is also very heavy. Homes that are not built for a ceramic tile roof may need to be reinforced before ceramic tile can be installed. Homeowners should have a roofing contractor come to their home on a regular basis to maintain their ceramic roof.


Shakes last approximately 30 years if they're well maintained, but this type of roofing material may require regular treatment and cleaning. Over time, shakes will take on a weathered, silver-gray appearance that appeals to some homeowners more than others. Shake is one of the most traditional roofing materials, and thus looks wonderful on older, historic homes.

Turn to Your Real Estate Agent for Advice

If you're torn between homes with different types of roofing material, your real estate agent can outline the differences, which can help you decide which home is best for you. Talk to your real estate agent throughout the home buying process to ensure that the home you buy is right for your needs.

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