Roofing materials transform look, functionality

The right roof can improve the appearance of a home and provide protection against the elements, potentially preventing damage to a home's interior as well.

When renovating a home, homeowners may not give ample thought to the roof unless there is a leak or another sign of damage. It's easy to forget about the roof when materials are working properly. Some people put off replacing or repairing a roof simply because of the costs of such undertakings. However, the right roof can improve the appearance of a home and provide protection against the elements, potentially preventing damage to a home's interior as well.

Roofing materials have evolved over the years, but the most common type of roofing material is the asphalt shingle. These shingles are a relatively modern invention, with the first "asphalt prepared roofing" serving as a forerunner to asphalt shingles, appearing in the late 1800s.

Roofing materials will need to meet a particular area's fire codes and must be able to withstand any extreme weather conditions common to the geographic region where the home is located. Certain roofing materials may be heavier than others and may require special framing. Work with an experienced roofing contractor to learn more about your available options and to shed light on any special installation or maintenance issues to consider before construction begins.

The following are just some of the roofing materials homeowners may want to consider.

· Asphalt shingles: The most popular roofing material, asphalt shingles are guaranteed for 20 to 30 years, which helps solidify this choice as a smart-value product. For some homeowners, a downside to shingles is that, because they are so popular, they're seen everywhere. So those homeowners looking to make a unique statement with their roofing materials may want to choose a different option.

· Wood shingles and shakes: A wood roof is another possibility, but some homeowners find wood roofs require more money to install and more effort to maintain than roofs made with other materials. Wood shingles are sawn from logs and are thin, while shakes are thick, rough and formed by being split from logs.

· Clay or concrete tiles: These tiles add texture and elegance to a roof, says HGTV. Clay or concrete tiles are very durable and quite heavy, so they must be installed by a professional. These tiles can make Mediterranean-, Spanish- or mission-style houses stand out even more. Their long-lasting nature can help offset the price tag.

· Metal: Metal roofs are usually made from fully recyclable steel, aluminum or alloy, making them an eco-friendly choice. Metal roofs also reflect the sun's rays and can be an energy-efficient option in hot climates.

· Slate: One of the longest-lasting materials available in roofing products, slate is fireproof and comes in various natural colors and shapes. Once installed, slate requires very little maintenance. However, slate can be cost-prohibitive because its delicacy and weight requires extra roofing support and professional installation.

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