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Different Roofing Materials

The Different Types of Steep Slope Roofing System

Roofs are essential elements of homes, providing protection for your family and your belongings. Regular maintenance is critical for roof systems to perform at an optimal level and resist elements such as wind damage. When property owners are faced with the reality of replacing a roof, there are many factors to consider. These include the composition and weight of roofing materials, the costs and benefits of a selected roofing type, and local climate and weather patterns. Roof replacements are among the most common and costly of home repairs, so it’s important for property owners to make well-informed decisions to avoid unwanted consequences later. Here’s a comprehensive list of steep slope roofing types to help guide you in the roof-replacement process.

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are the most common residential roofing material used in the U.S. They are low-maintenance, less expensive than most other roofing options, and effective in most climate conditions. They are also extremely versatile, offering features like cool roof colors that reflect the heat of the sun, copper-coated surface granules that fight off unsightly algae growth, and asphalt blends made with rubber-like compounds for added impact resistance to reduce or resist hail damage.

There are generally two types of asphalt shingles: organic or fiberglass. Organic shingles have been in use for many years. They are made of a wood base dipped in asphalt and then coated in mineral granules. Fiberglass shingles are newer to the market, and they are made up of a fiberglass mat sandwiched between two layers of asphalt and coated in mineral granules. The difference between these two types of roofing materials lies in the level of fire resistance that each provides. Fire resistance is measured by A, B, and C ratings (A being the best), assigned by the American Society for Testing Materials International (ASTM), which sets international safety standards for building products and systems. Most organic shingles have a Class C rating, while most fiberglass shingles carry a Class A rating for superior fire resistance. This is a difference that you should take into consideration, especially if you live in an area that is prone to wildfires.

Polymer-Modified Asphalt Shingles

Polymer-modified asphalt shingles are a cost-effective and durable option for steep-slope roof replacement, particularly in areas of that country that experience frequent hailstorms or extremely low temperatures. The rubberized compounds in polymer-modified products makes them extremely impact resistant and less likely to crack from freeze-thaw cycles. If you live in America’s “Hail Alley,” polymer-modified shingles, compared to typical asphalt shingles, can greatly reduce the roof damage from hail. Cold weather also makes regular shingles brittle, a challenge for roofing contractors that can delay roof replacement or repair. Polymer-modified shingles, however, can be installed in freezing temperatures, making them convenient if wind storms or other harsh elements damage your roof during late fall or winter.

Wood Shingles and Shakes

Traditional wood shingles and shakes are generally made from cedar or redwood. The difference between the two lies in the method used to construct them. Wood shingles are made by machine saws, while wood shakes are handmade. They can be fashioned into a variety of different shapes, sizes, and colors. Their natural appearance makes them a sought-after roofing system option in the Pacific Northwest and Midwest. They were once widely utilized, but now have decreased in popularity due to their elevated maintenance costs and susceptibility to fire and mold if not properly treated and maintained. Maintaining the integrity of natural shake is commitment many homeowners are not prepared for owing to the cost and frequency of upkeep.


Natural slate was once a common roofing material in the Northeast. Some of the earliest homes in America utilize slate roofs, as it has a reputation of being extremely durable and fire-resistant. Slate roofs are great for windy environments and hold up well to the freeze and thaw cycles in the winter months. With the proper care and maintenance, slate roofs have been known to last for more than 150 years. While long-lasting, slate is much heavier than other roofing types and is typically the most expensive option on the market. A standard roof frame may need additional supports installed to manage the weight of a slate. Additionally, it can be challenging to find contractors that specialize in slate roofs, which can make installation and upkeep even more expensive.

Clay Tile

The first clay tile roofs were discovered in China, dating back to 10,000 B.C. In North America, clay tile roofs began popping up between the 18th and 19th centuries, particularly in areas settled by the Spanish and Portuguese. They have remained a popular option throughout the U.S. due to their insect and rain resistance, as well as the decorative element that they add to a home. Clay tiles come in many different shapes and colors, allowing homeowners to customize their roofs. Clay tile roofs are generally low maintenance, but are susceptible to cracking, so it’s important that homeowners take measures to prevent trees and branches from falling on and damaging the roof. They also share the same drawbacks as slate, being that they are relatively heavy and cost more than other roofing options..


Metal roofing materials are the among the most versatile on the market, being both lightweight and sturdy. A huge selling point is that metal roofs require virtually no maintenance and can last longer than the structures they are built on (50 years or longer). Also, the fact that metal can be fashioned into many different designs allows manufactures to create styles that look and feel like other popular roofing materials such as slate, clay tile, and shake without the maintenance and drawbacks associated with natural roofing material.

Metal roofing is not inexpensive, yet it is highly durable and offers excellent protection against impact, fire, and wind. The application of ‘cool roof’ paint coatings can provide temperature-lowering solar reflectivity, which can increase energy savings for homeowners by lowering air conditioning use.







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