In the Market for a New Roof? A Buyers’ Guide to Roof Types

April showers bring May flowers, but can also lead to lots of roof repairs, perhaps even a roof replacement.

Your roof is one of your home’s most important components, so it helps to understand your roof type and what goes into replacing your worn roof. Because roof replacement is expensive and normal wear and tear is not covered under your homeowners policy, you may delay replacing your roof. However, a roof replacement can save you a great deal of aggravation and money. A leaking roof can lead to serious problems like chimney cracks, exhaust fan damage, wall cracks, mold, damaged furnishings, and even insect infestation. Standing water is a big problem and could cause a roof collapse.

If you know what to expect when you talk to contractors, you can better negotiate your roofing replacement. Consider these factors:

  • The size of your roof (measured in square feet)
  • Type of roofing material on the roof and the number of layers on the current roof
  • Accessibility (the steeper the roof, the more the cost)
  • Number of stories
  • Additional labor charges to repair any pre-existing damage
  • Roof permit and city license
  • Regional and state ordinances (especially in areas like Florida, South Carolina and Alabama, which are prone to disasters such as hurricanes and wildfires)


Overview of Common Roof Types

Asphalt/Composition/Architectural Shingles
Composite shingles are made of asphalt. With their adhesive backing, composite shingles are easy to install. Architectural roofing shingles provide a striking three-dimensional appearance. Because of their extra thickness, architectural roofing shingles weigh considerably more than conventional asphalt-based shingles and have longer warranties.

No roofing type has as much variety in price and materials as metal. It is installed as sheets or shingles; both are suitable for steep roofs. Mechanically seamed metal, on the other hand, is ideal for gentle slopes. Its durability, which can hold for half a century, is one of metal’s strongest appeals. It does not absorb heat, which makes it is ideal for tropical climates. Those who live in places with occasional thunderstorms can feel safe with a roof covered with a metal sheet because it disperses lightning and is non-flammable, as well. Metal roofing also appeals visually to home owners. The trade-off is the expense—metal costs more than most roof types.

Roof tiles are usually made of glazed ceramic and baked clay and are more durable than other roofing materials. Two factors discourage people from using roof tiles: weight and price. Due to their heaviness, they require a stronger roof deck and wall-support structure. They are also much more expensive than most materials.
Glazed tile continues to attract high-end homeowners due to its beauty. Additionally, tiles are fire-resistant and sturdy and can withstand hail, moisture and heat. These types of roofs also repel termites.

Roof Shapes

These are formed from two sloping sides that meet in a ridge at the top. Builders try to make the slope and angle of each side equal, forming what looks like a symmetrical triangle. However, gable ends vary with different architectural designs. The most common type has a smooth surface. The other type of gable has a roofline that forms a stair-step design at its ends.

Hip roofs are usually symmetrical with the roof sloping on all sides. A hip roof is quite strong due to its more complex framing and the even distribution of the roof overhang.

Dutch Hip
A Dutch hip roof has sides that gently slope down. It is a variation of a standard hip roof with a small gable section found at its peak. This small gable provides an alternative that is more attractive compared to the standard one. It also provides space for additional ventilation.

Choosing a Roofing Contractor
Money is always a major concern when it comes to roof replacement. As you get estimates, you may want to refrain from choosing the lowest bid. Any experienced contractor should provide plenty of work samples and recommendations. Seek out personal referrals from friends and neighbors, as well, especially if a major storm goes through and many roofs are damaged in your neighborhood. Conduct online research for customer reviews. Yelp and Google offer excellent reviews. Use a reputable company that provides excellent workmanship and prompt service. Choose longevity and integrity. Your roof is integral to your home’s construction; if anything goes wrong you need to be able to rely on your contractor.

Even if you find a contractor who seems perfect, make sure you obtain at least three bids. This will allow you to see a range of prices and get a “gut feel” for each contractor. When contractors know they are competing for the job, they will often provide a more competitive quote.

Monitor the Work

After you choose a contractor, don’t assume the job will be done on time and to your specifications. Monitor your roofer’s progress to ensure the workers are diligent and not taking shortcuts. Simply make your presence felt. Your diligence can have a major impact on the final product.

Please remember that the comments contained in this blog are general in nature and that coverage under any specific policy of insurance will depend upon the terms and conditions of such policy.