Asphalt shingles are the most common roofing materials in America because they’re effective in all environmental conditions.
Advanced solar collectors integrate seamlessly into existing shingles, generating up to 1 kilowatt of energy per 100 square feet. They’re particularly good for sunny roofs in homeowners’ associations that forbid typical solar panels. While they may help offset energy costs with solar power, they also cost more than traditional solar options.
Metal roofing comes in vertical panels or shingles resembling slate, tile and shake – and lasts about 60 years. Metal excels at sloughing off heavy snow and rain, won’t burn and resists high winds. It is lightweight and can be installed over existing roofs.
Slate roofing lasts more than 100 years. It won’t burn, is waterproof and resists mold and fungus. Slate is effective in wet climates but is expensive, heavy and may be easily broken when stepped on. Keep this in mind if you live in an area that experiences hail.
Interlocking panels mimic slate, clay or shingles and resist damage caused by heavy rains (up to 8.8 inches per hour), winds of 120 miles per hour, uplifting, hail and freeze-thaw cycles.
Rubber slate looks natural and can be cut with a knife to fit intricate roofs like those found on Victorian homes. Rubber slate roofs can last 100 years but can be damaged by satellite dishes and walking – so may also be susceptible to damage by hail, similar to slate.
Clay and Concrete Tiles
Clay and concrete roof tiles can withstand damage from tornadoes, hurricanes or winds up to 125 miles per hour and even earthquakes.
Green roofs are covered with plants and can improve air quality, reduce water runoff and insulate homes to reduce urban heat islands. However, they need extra structural support, a vapor barrier, thermal insulation, waterproofing, drainage, water filtration, soil, compost, and plants. Their estimated lifespan is 40 years.
This heavy roofing consists of layers of asphalt, tar or adhesive topped with aggregate and is only for flat roofs. Tar and gravel roofs, also for flat roofs, are best for roof-top decks with heavy foot traffic. These roofs may become sticky in summer, and it is harder to shovel snow off of these roofs when compared to smooth surfaces. They can last 20 to 25 years.