Best Residential Roofing Systems – Homeowners Buying Guide

Throughout history people have used different kinds of materials to protect their homes; from tree barks and animal skins to modern composite materials that we use today. The main purpose of the roof is to protect the house from external weather conditions such as rain, snow, and hail.

A roof must also have good aesthetic qualities and contribute to the visual appeal and overall value of your home. Before re-roofing a house you must decide whether the old roof needs just a few smaller repairs, or if it is time to replace the old roof with a new one altogether.

If there are some missing shingles on your roof, or if you notice a lot of cracked and chipped shingles, then it is probably a good time to get a new roof.

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Basic Roofing Options:

wood shingles and shakes, natural or synthetic slate, metal roofing, clay or cement tiles among others. When deciding what material to use you must keep a few things in mind – climate conditions, expected lifespan, maintenance, aesthetic characteristics and, of course, price.

Keep in mind that it is better to choose low maintenance material with a long service life expectancy even if the price is higher. For instance, most asphalt shingle roofs are rather inexpensive, but have a relatively short lifespan of only about 15 to 20 years. They are easy to repair, but repairs may soon become ongoing and expensive. Asphalt shingles are also environmentally unfriendly and not very energy efficient.

Clay tiles, slate, and metal roofing will cost more, but they will also last far longer than asphalt. For instance, metal, ceramic and concrete tiles, and slate installed correctly will require little to no maintenance, while cedar shakes will require some regular maintenance.

Natural slate is very expensive material, but it can last for a 100 years.

Traditional Home with a Slate Roof
Traditional Home with a Slate Roof

No matter what material you are going to use for roofing a home, its basic elements are wood framing, sheathing, underlayment, flashing, gutters and downspouts and shakes for final layer. Wood framing is the structure on which the roof itself is being built. Then you are going to need good sheathing. Plywood and oriented-strand-board are mostly used as sheathing. Some types of cedar shakes require spaced-board sheathing.

Roofing felt is used as underlayment. – It is a heavy paper saturated with asphalt; its function is to prevent water from leaking and deteriorating the roof deck.

Flashing Details

Depending on your roofing system, flashing details can be made of aluminum, galvanized steel, copper, lead, or vinyl. It helps water flow away from the roof. All flashing should be done before installing the roofing system. Choose the gutters and downspouts which are easy to clean; clogged gutters retain water.


If you are going to install new skylights, then it is a good idea to do it at the same time as a re-roofing of your house takes place.

PV Solar Systems

Installation of PV Solar Panels on a Flat Roof

There are two interesting types of modern roofs; green roof and PV solar roof. Green roofs are environmentally friendly and cost effective. They provide good insulation, absorb rainwater and help reduce higher temperatures in the cities known as a green island effect. Different kinds of plants can be planted on the roof. Green roofs are also known as living roofs.

PV solar roofs are made of special shingles or tiles, or come as PV solar panels installed over the existing roofs. They capture sunlight during the day and transform it into electricity. You can use solar power to illuminate the house or for heating. This is environmentally friendly roof that can give your home a unique look thanks to the dark blue solar shingles or look of the crystalline panels.

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