choosing roof design and style

choosing roof design and styleIf you want to add value to your home, a new roof may be the way to go. Shingles not only protect your house from the elements, they also add beauty and curb appeal to the exterior of your home. But which shingle is the right one for the job? Read on to learn more about today’s roofing options and how to decide which one is the right roof for you.

A Note on Shingles and Shakes:

These two terms generally come up together and are sometimes used interchangeably. However, shingles and shakes are not exactly the same thing. They are both traditionally made of wood; shingles are sawn which results in relatively smooth, uniform pieces and shakes are split which results in thicker, rougher pieces.  There are now “shake-style” shingles available in a range of engineered materials that offer better wear and fire-resistance than wood.


Fibreglass shingles, composed primarily of asphalt and fibreglass, are the most common and probably the least expensive of today’s roofing materials. These shingles are durable and water-resistant and are available in a wide range of colours and styles to suit virtually any home. The fibreglass component also provides fire-resistance for added protection. A standard 3-tab design is the least expensive option or you can step up to architectural shingles which are thicker and laminated for more durability.

Metal is another attractive option if you need a roof with high water and wind resistance. Additionally a metal roof won’t rot or mildew, it’s fire-resistant, it’s easy to install and has a very long life expectancy. The initial cost is higher than fibreglass but if properly installed, a metal roof will probably never need replacing. If you live in an area that’s prone to heavy hailstorms, keep in mind that large hail stones can dent metal.

Wood is a traditional roofing material and still a favourite for its charm and rustic look. Since wood is a completely natural material, it is arguably more environmentally-friendly than other roofing choices but it is more expensive to install. It also requires periodic maintenance and the colour will change over time – a plus or minus depending on your viewpoint.  It is also not fire proof and may be illegal in areas where wildfires are common so be sure to check your local building codes.

Clay or ceramic tile is a popular choice in southern climates but not as common in the north. It can last a long time if installed properly, but it is expensive to purchase and install. It is also very heavy, which makes it an impractical choice as many homes are not designed to support the extra weight.

Slate is a beautiful, durable material which has been used in roof construction for hundreds of years. It is resists fire and water and provides an elegant, traditional look. However, as with clay and ceramic, slate is very expensive and very heavy so it may not be suitable for all homes.

Rubber is a relatively new roofing material but one that is making great strides in the world of home improvement. Made from recycled rubber and extremely durable, these shingles resist water, wind, rust, denting and fire. They are often made to look like slate, cement, wood shakes or other materials which are too expensive, too heavy or too flammable for practical purposes.

So now that you know your options, what should you take into consideration?


Shingles with a longer warranty are usually more expensive, but don’t just look at the initial price tag. Cheaper roofing may cost less now but it will need to be repaired or replaced that much sooner. If you’re planning to be in your home for another 30 years or longer, then more expensive shingles with a better warranty may cost you less in the long run. Make sure you find out what’s covered so that you’re prepared if there is a problem during the warranty period.


There are a wide range of prices in roofing, depending upon the type and quality of the shingles you choose and whether you hire a professional installer. So it really just depends on what your budget can handle. Doing it yourself can keep the initial cost down but keep in mind that some warranties can be voided by improper installation, so make sure you know what you’re doing if you plan to go it alone.


Resistance to the elements is an important consideration for a roof and your choice in shingles will depend largely on the climate in your area. If you live in an area with frequent storms you’ll want something that holds up better to wind, water and hail. If long, hot sunny days are the norm then high resistance to UV rays is a must. If wildfires are a risk near your home, then fire-resistance is essential and may also be required by local building codes.

Roof Shape:

The design of your home will also determine your roofing material to a certain extent. Pitched roofs are great with fibreglass, metal and other materials that shed water easily. However, if you have a flat roof or a curved roof you may have more limited options.

Style and Colour:

Before choosing style and colour, you should look at the other houses in the neighbourhood as well as your own. The shingles you choose have to complement your home but you should also try to be somewhat consistent with the rest of the neighbourhood.  A unique-looking roof may not “fit” and could cause difficulties if you ever decide to sell your house.

CategoryDesign, Exterior, Roofing

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