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Guide to Roofing Materials

Once it has been determined that there is no way to repair your roof and that the only solution is to totally re-roof the entire building, you have several things to consider. While you might want to stay as low-cost as possible, that might not be in your best interest. Before deciding on which roofing materials to use, take the time to do a little research so that the new roof you have installed will actually be cost effective in the long run. But along with cost you will also need to determine whether or not your ‘first choice’ in roofing materials is suitable for the structure. After finding which types of materials can be employed you can start to factor in cost against the look you would like to achieve.

Compare Age to Age

You need to carefully weigh the age of the building in question against the expected lifespan of the roofing materials. This is of vital importance so that you won’t be throwing good money after bad. For example, a composition (asphalt tile) roof may last anywhere from 15 to 30 years while a metal roof may last 50 years or longer. If the building which needs a new roof is not expected to outlive the type of covering or if it is to be sold at some time within that time span then it would not be cost effective to re-roof the building with expensive covering.

Roofing Type vs. Building Style

Next it is important to take into consideration the actual building itself and the shape of the roof prior to choosing a type of roofing. Not all coverings work well on any style of building so that would be your second consideration. For example, a thatched roof wouldn’t go well (or be sufficient!) on a high rise apartment building whereas a concrete tile roof wouldn’t work on a Victorian home. Although cost may be an important factor, there is usually more than one type of roofing material that can be used.

5 Most Common Types of Roof Covering

When it comes to re-roofing a home, there are five common types of covering that are most often employed. While there is also an assortment of other types of materials and coverings, most often homes are roofed with Composition, Wood Shingles, Metal, Tile (concrete or clay) and Slate. Then there are Concrete Fibre and Engineered Rubber which can be used on virtually any type of home were as the others are preferential to particular styles and eras.


Most often referred to as ‘Asphalt Shingles,’ Composition roofing can actually be used on most types of homes from contemporary to historic. It is perhaps the least expensive of coverings and there is a multitude of colours available and just as many, if not more, manufacturers worldwide. Unfortunately, although Composition roofs are the least expensive, they are also the shortest lived, ranging from 15 to 30 years.

Wood Shingles

Wood Shingles are also called ‘Shakes” and are commonly used for bungalows, cottages, historic and even on some contemporary homes. They have a softer, more natural look than Composition roofs and do provide a small amount of insulation. If maintained a Wood Shingle roof can last anywhere from 30 to 50 years. Keep in mind that this type of roof is also quite expensive so you would need to consider the relative value of the home along with the expected lifespan. Also, this particular type of covering has a very poor fire rating.


There are a number of different metals that are used in roofing which include alluminium, copper, tin and steel. Metal roofs have a very long lifespan of at least 50 years and they are durable and lightweight. Metal roofing comes in a wide array of colours, is eco-friendly and can even be installed over the current roofing material! Unfortunately, Metal roofing can be difficult to install and is a bit expensive so there is a significant amount of cost to consider in terms of both labour and materials. Metal roofs may need to be periodically painted but they do hold up to high winds, rain and hail.


Although we often refer to Composition roofs as being ‘Tile’ roofs, the term is usually used in context with clay or concrete. While Tile roofs may work well on some contemporary styles of homes, it is ideal for Mediterranean, French Eclectic, Spanish Eclectic, Italian and Beaux Arts. It is non-combustible and therefore fireproof. Although easy to maintain and requires little or no maintenance, it is also quite costly. Tile roofs are quite heavy so they are usually only used on newer buildings which meet certain structural specifications.


Perhaps the most expensive of all would be a Slate roof which is commonly found on French, Exotic Revivals, Italianate, Beaux Arts and Chateauesque styles of architecture. Slate roofs are quite distinctive, have an extremely long lifespan, are fireproof and low-maintenance. One very important aspect to consider in terms of price is that they require highly specialised installation which adds considerably to an already costly product. They are, unfortunately, also very high maintenance, fragile and quite heavy. Even so, they are among the loveliest roofs to be found.

Concrete and Engineered Rubber

Fiber reinforced Concrete roofing can be installed on virtually any style of home, comes in a huge assortment of colours and styles. It is lightweight, durable and also insect and fire resistant but unfortunately can be a bit expensive. Take care when choosing Concrete coverings as there is a wide disparity among manufacturers resulting in some products being inferior in quality. Engineered Rubber (or plastic) is quite new to the market but will last a long time, between 30 and 50 years. Like Concrete, Engineered Rubber can be employed on any style of architecture but this type of covering varies in one significant way. It is relatively inexpensive, unlike Concrete.

When choosing a new roof it is important to keep in mind the style of architecture as well as cost and longevity. You don’t want to over improve your home, especially if it will go on the market any time soon. If you plan on living there for years to come, then you would want to opt for a roofing style that will last the duration. However, if you have a unique or historic home you would want to consider roofing that is consistent with the style and/or era. There are so many factors involved that it is always best to speak with a roofing contractor about any concerns or questions you may have.

24 Hour Call Out

Call 07831 763 189 for emergency repairs

Here at Rooftime, we have a qualified team of professional roofers that are available 24/7. Should you notice damage to your roof and need to have it repaired, our team is available at those times when emergency repairs require immediate attention. If the contents of your home or business are in jeopardy due to sudden structural damage to your roof covering, all the more reason to get Rooftime on the job before sustaining loss which could have been avoided.

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