Choose the Right Materials: Roofing

Top off your home with roofing that suits your style and fits your budget. Here's what's out there now.

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    Roofing 101: Composition

    Composition roofing, usually called asphalt shingles, is the most common roof used on houses. It's lowest in cost and easiest to install. Characteristics:

    -- Cellulose or fiberglass mats coated with asphalt and granules
    -- Many colors available; lighter colors reduce cooling costs
    -- Lightweight with flat profile
    -- The heavier the shingle, the longer it will last
    -- Algae-resistant granules available for warm, humid climates
    -- Cost: Starts at $50 per square (100 square feet), uninstalled

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    Roofing 101: Laminated

    Laminated shingles are thicker and heavier than composition roofing. Multilayer panels produce three-dimensional profiles and shadow lines. Characteristics:

    -- Fiberglass mat instead of cellulose core
    -- Has a shake-like profile
    -- Greater fire and wind resistance than composition
    -- High-end products weigh up to 450 pounds per square
    -- High-end products last 40 to 50 years
    -- Cost: $60-$80 per square, uninstalled, more for premium or architectural product lines

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    Roofing 101: Wood

    Wood shingles and shakes are made from cedar, redwood, and southern pine. Some local codes prohibit wood because it's flammable. Characteristics:

    -- Wood's natural character blends with the landscape
    -- Shingles are flat and machine sawn on both sides
    -- Shakes are thick and may be hand split
    -- Requires a roof with at least 4:12 slope to shed water
    -- Lasts 15 to 25 years; apply preservative and fungicide every two to five years
    -- Cost: From $100 per square, uninstalled

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    Roofing 101: Metal

    Metal shingles are long lasting, lightweight, and fire-resistant, but they conduct heat and can be noisy. Characteristics:

    -- Made of aluminum, steel, or copper
    -- Come in standing seam, corrugated, or faux-shake styles
    -- Can last 40 to 50 years; color coatings guaranteed against fading for 25 years
    -- Aluminum won't rust, but lower grades can dent
    -- Cost: Steel and aluminum, $100-$260 per square, uninstalled; copper, $250-$500 per square, uninstalled

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    Roofing 101: Clay Tile

    Clay tile is a heavy, durable material that complements mission and Spanish-style architecture. Characteristics:

    -- Typically curved, but also available flat for English and French looks
    -- Hundreds of glaze colors available
    -- Molded from pulverized clay and water
    -- Can weigh 1,000+ pounds per square; usually requires reinforced roof framing
    -- Lasts 50 to 100 years; tiles can crack or chip
    -- Cost: $250-$500 or more per square, uninstalled

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    Roofing 101: Slate

    Historic and older homes are often roofed with this natural quarried stone. Characteristics:

    -- Available in different colors and grades, depending on origin
    -- Considered virtually indestructible
    -- Requires specialized skills and expertise to install
    -- Can weigh 700 to 2,000 pounds per square; usually requires reinforced roof framing
    -- Lasts 100+ years; only maintenance is replacing broken tiles
    -- Cost: $300-$600 per square, uninstalled

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    Roofing 101: Concrete Tile

    Concrete tiles imitate clay and slate in appearance and durability; can also look like wood shakes. Characteristics:

    -- Can be molded to interlock so they're easy to install
    -- Roof framing may need to be reinforced to handle the weight
    -- Lighter-weight types available
    -- Some products come with limited lifetime warranties transferable to new owners
    -- Only maintenance is checking for loose or cracked tiles
    -- Cost: $150-$250 per square, uninstalled for standard types; $350-$500 per square for lightweight types

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    Roofing 101: Rubber Composite

    Also known as synthetic slate, rubber composite shingles are molded from a blend of plastic and rubber bonded molecularly. Characteristics:

    -- Convincing texture, like slate, with color through the material
    -- Lightweight yet strong and flexible
    -- Limited supplier network
    -- Fifty-year limited warranties are typical
    -- Only maintenance is checking for damaged shingles
    -- Cost: $295-$400 per square, uninstalled

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    Roofing 101: Cost Comparison

    Labor and material costs vary by region. Here is a general guide.

  • 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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