Roof Designs and Styles

Although rarely the first thing you notice, a roof says much about a home's style. Take this tour of housetops to choose the best roof for your home.

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    • Tudor Influence

      The secret to this home's gracious patina is architectural symmetry and classic materials. A white-painted brick exterior topped with an asphalt roof features two gables and three dormers centered above the front entry. Copper window awnings and a wooden entry door enhance the home's exterior charm.

    • Rambling Ranch

      Gently sloping roofs on ranch houses make the rooftop less noticeable. It's smart to choose a color and material that blend. The rough texture and muted color of the cedar-shingle siding and detailed gables on this ranch-style house are complemented by the roof's gray-brown shingles.

    • Tile Statement

      The bold color and texture of tile roofs command attention. Clay tiles are popular in the Southwest because they deflect hot sun away from the house, cooling the interior. This roofing material, while expensive, is long-lasting. A stucco abode complements the tile's outspoken nature.

    • Complementary Composite

      This home's aging roof was updated to a slate-style fiberglass-composite shingle that complements the home's new gray-blue exterior color.

      Tip: It's best to tear off an old roof rather than install a new one over an existing roof. A tear-off reveals any defects in the roof deck so they can be mended before a new roof is installed.

    • Pure Traditional

      The straightforward style of this gracious Georgian home is distinguished by timeless brick siding and dark shutters. The wood shingle roof has weathered to pleasant shades of gray. Wood shingles are thick enough to cast shadows, creating a subtle but attractive repetition of the home's classic lines.

    • House Paint Colors

      Learn how to choose an exterior color that freshens your facade and flatters your roof material.

    • Mix to Taste

      A house needn't be topped with a single material, especially when the roof's character changes. White PVC roofing on this home's new upper-level addition saves energy and can only be seen from a bird's-eye view, helping to preserve the home's character while enabling it to live for today.

    • Scalloped Style

      Though this elegant home was originally built in Federal style, many of its post-Civil War improvements were kept, including the mansard roof. Purple-gray scalloped shingles complement the home's decorative ornamentation.

    • Alluring Metals

      Color choices for roofing have greatly expanded in recent years. A metal roof dramatically enhances this three-story clapboard cottage, creating an appealing color palette with its all-white exterior and surrounding greenery.

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      Sophisticated Slate

      Elegant and attractive, slate's unfailing beauty is paralleled only by the cost of installing and maintaining it. This brick exterior was painted a gray-green hue to complement the slate roof's variety of color tones.

      Tip: Love the look but not the cost? Composite material -- made of slate and resins -- features all the glorious good looks of natural slate with easier installation and care.

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      Casa Contemporary

      The flat, unseen roof of this contemporary-style home calls for heavy-duty materials. While appearance isn't a concern, ensuring that water quickly rolls off the slight slope is critical. If you live in a cold climate, make sure you also pick a roofing material that can bear a significant snow load.

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      Woodland Retreat

      Mountain views and a lush landscape provide the ultimate backdrop for this charming woodland cottage. Exterior features such as a shingle roof, rustic bark siding, and flagstone walkways make the home blend comfortably into its surroundings.

    • 13 of 16

      French Manor

      Judicious use of old elements -- a mansard-style roof, old French balusters, zinc oeil-de-boeuf dormers, and lovingly collected raw materials -- transformed this once Italianate ranch into a a sophisticated French manor.

    • 14 of 16

      Dutch Treat

      Steeply sloped roof sides, characteristic of Dutch Colonial houses, often cover most of two exterior sides of a home's second floor. That makes roofing material and color choices very noticeble. Wood shingles and shakes are beautiful natural roofing material options.

      Tip: Check for fire-retardant treatments for natural materials, or consider a synthetic substitute such as laminated composition shingles that have a shakelike profile.

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      Add Light with Care

      Skylights bring sunshine deep into rooms during the day and add drama to a home's exterior at night. For all their appeal, though, skylights are holes in the roof. When poorly done, they let in temperature extremes and water. Choose skylights wisely, place them thoughtfully, and install them carefully so you can enjoy the benefits always.

    • Next Slideshow Pick the Perfect Color for Your House

      Pick the Perfect Color for Your House

      Choosing the right color for the exterior of your home is no easy task. No matter your taste and the style of your house, be inspired by these beautiful combinations.
      Begin Slideshow »
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