Types of Residential Roofs

The roof of your house is one of its most important features, as it provides protection from the elements and helps to keep the home – and those inside of it – safe and comfortable. There are many different types of residential roofs available, each with its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Some are better suited to certain climates, while others are more aesthetically pleasing or cost-effective. Whether you’re building a new home or replacing an old roof, it’s important to understand all of the options available to you.

Hammersmith roofing customer’s asphalt and metal roofs on a new construction home.

Asphalt Shingles

In the US, asphalt shingles are the most commonly used roofing material. That’s because they are relatively inexpensive, easy to install, and come in a wide variety of colors and styles. On top of that, they’re also lightweight, which means they’re compatible with most home building materials. However, the lifespan of asphalt shingles is comparatively low, usually lasting just 15 to 25 years. High winds, hail, and torrential rain can also damage them, leading to leaks and other structural issues.

Pros: Affordable, easy to install, wide range of colors and styles available.
Cons: Short lifespan, prone to damage from high winds, hail, and heavy rain.

Slate Tiles

Slate tiles are popular because they create a natural, attractive, high-end look that helps your house stand out in your neighborhood. They are extremely durable and can last up to 100 years or more, which makes them a cost-effective option over the long term. Slate roofing tiles are also fire-resistant and low-maintenance. However, they are expensive to install, heavy, and require specialized installation techniques, which will likely increase the overall cost of the project.

Pros: Extremely durable, can last up to 100 years, fire-resistant, low-maintenance.
Cons: Expensive to install, heavy, require specialized installation techniques.

Hammersmith Roofing home featuring slate roofing tiles and flat roofs on the side wings of the house

Metal Roofs

Metal roofs are another popular choice, especially in areas that are prone to severe weather like high winds, heavy rain, and frequent snow. They are durable, lightweight, and energy-efficient, which can help reduce heating and cooling costs, and have a long lifespan between 40 to 70 years. Besides that, metal roofs are available in a variety of colors and styles that can go with any kind of architecture. However, metal roofs can be noisy during heavy rain or hail, and they can be expensive to install.

Pros: Durable, lightweight, energy-efficient, wide range of styles and colors available.
Cons: Noisy during heavy rain or hail, expensive to install.

Flat/Low-Sloping Roofs

Flat or low-sloping roofs are common in commercial buildings but are also a popular choice for homes, especially historic row houses. Due to the unique design of these roofs, special materials and installation methods are needed. The main benefit of flat roofs is that they provide additional living space, like a rooftop deck or garden. However, flat roofs can occasionally develop leaks and water damage, which can be expensive to fix.

Pros: Additional living space, such as rooftop decks or gardens.
Cons: Prone to leaks and water damage.

Different color options of metal roofing - shown here are silver, black, and green.

Living/Green Roofs

Living or green roofs are essentially roof gardens that incorporate drought tolerant plants on the top of your house. They are designed to provide additional insulation and reduce stormwater runoff. Additionally, living roofs can help improve air quality and reduce urban heat island effects. However, they are expensive to install and require specialized maintenance, including regular watering and pruning.

Pros: Additional insulation, reduce stormwater runoff, improve air quality, reduce urban heat island effects.
Cons: Expensive to install, require specialized maintenance.

Wood Shingles

Wood shingles are a traditional type of roofing material that provide a rustic and natural look to any home. They are made from cedar or redwood and can last up to 30 years or more with proper maintenance. Wood shingles are also lightweight and provide good insulation, which can help reduce your heating and cooling costs. However, they are prone to rotting, warping, and insect damage, which can affect their durability and require repairs from a professional.

Pros: Natural and rustic look, lightweight, good insulation.
Cons: Prone to rotting, warping, and insect damage.

Close up of cedar roof shingles

When selecting a roofing material for your home, it is important to consider things like durability, lifespan, maintenance requirements, cost, and aesthetic appeal. A roofing expert can help you choose a material that is appropriate for your house and complies with local building laws and regulations. As an experienced roofing contractor, we install several types of roofs in the greater Richmond, VA area. We’ve been working on roofs for residential and commercial customers for years. Our team of roofing contractors have the skills to install roofs for family homes, apartment buildings, restaurants, retail stores, and townhomes. Reach out to us here at Hammersmith Roofing. Reach out to us today to discuss your roofing questions or roof replacement needs.