Considering a new roofing system on your house? You have a lot of research to do if you want to make the right choice for your home and budget. But learning which types of roofing systems are out there is half the battle. Once you’re educated on that, you can easily make a decision on the many types that exist. Whether you choose affordable asphalt shingles or go with metal to last half a century, take into consideration the pros and cons of each.

Types of Roof Systems You Should Know About

 Types of Coverings

There are two main types of roof coverings: steep slope and low slope. Steep slope coverings are comprised of the roofs you are probably most familiar with, such as asphalt shingles, wood shakes, tiles and slate. Low-slope roofing membranes, in contrast, include built-up roof membranes (BUR), spray polyurethane foam (SPF), metal panel, bitumen sheet and single-ply membrane roofs. You’ll need to weigh each factor in which roof you go with, taking into consideration durability, life expectancy, price, maintenance needs and the best roof for your home’s climate and style.


Asphalt is the most common on American roofs, according to Bob Vila, featured on about 75 percent of homes. Not only are they the most affordable type, they’re the easiest to put in and they’re fairly resilient for all weather conditions. They can also be recycled, so they make a good eco-friendly choice. However, when you compare asphalt shingles to other types such as metal, they don’t have nearly as long a life span and only last up to about 20 years.


Wood shakes and shingles are available in a variety of types, such as cedar, southern pine and redwood. They can last between 15 and 30 years but they need maintenance and they can succumb to rot and moisture. Wood shakes come in rough, rustic finishes or smooth machine-cut finishes. You see these most often on cottages, bungalows and ranches because they provide a natural look that can’t be achieved through any other material. However, it is more flammable than other choices but you can add fire-resistant coatings to minimize the risk.


Whether in concrete or clay, the type of tile you choose will be reflective of your climate, house style and budget. Tiles are great for meeting cool roof standards, available in many light colors to reflect the harmful rays of the sun. They last about 50 years thanks to their durability, plus they’re energy efficient and look great too. There’s seemingly no limit to the style, color and texture you can choose, designed to resemble more expensive materials yet at a fraction of the cost. This style is best for European-, Spanish- or Mediterranean-style homes.


Slate is a fragile natural stone that’s beautiful to look at and encompasses a natural high-quality material, but it’s very fragile and calls for a difficult installation.


When you want the utmost in durability and life expectancy, metal roofing could be the roofing system for you. It’s not the most aesthetically pleasing roof around, especially since it has more of an industrial look, but it is incredibly versatile, lightweight, weather resistant material that lasts three times longer than other roofing types. You could easily have a metal roof for up to a century, provided you take good care of it. It’s got good insulating properties, yet it can be quite noisy when heavy rains and hail fall.

Making the choice of a roofing system is a highly personal one that depends on your budget, climate and style of home.