The Main Types Of Roofing Materials For Residential & Commercial Properties

Read Our Guide On All Of The Most Popular Roofing Materials Used On Residential And Commercial Roofing Systems.


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Plenty Of Options To Choose From

When it comes time to install your roof, you will have many options to choose from when deciding on what roofing material you want. But when you aren’t a roofer, how are you supposed to know which roofing system is right for your roof or how often you need to replace your roof? Well, here we are going to go over many different types of roofing for residential as well as commercial applications so you can make the best decision on which material is best for your budget.

There are several factors that should be considered before choosing any kind of roofing material including cost, longevity, ease of installation, aesthetics, the slope of your roof, etc. When looking into these things, you’ll find that each option has its own pros and cons so make sure you do your research before making a decision.

To narrow down your options, the main thing to look at it whether you have a steep sloped roof or a flat/low sloped roof. This makes a huge difference in what types of roofing systems you can use as flat roof systems are not designed to work on steep sloped roofs and vice versa. Let’s take a look at the main types of roofing materials.

class 4 hail impact resistant shingles on a residential roof
standing seam metal roof installed by maxx roof llc

Steep Sloped Roofing Systems

Steep sloped roofing systems only work properly when your roof has a slope of 3:12 or greater. This means that for each 12 inches of horizontal roof, the vertical rise is 3 inches. The slope can be greater than 3:12, but not less or you could have problems with leaks. These roofs are common on residential as well as commercial buildings and the roofing materials are designed to shed water easily due to the slope of the roof being steep enough. Below are some of the most popular steep sloped roofing materials.

Shingles – The most common type of roofing is asphalt shingle roofs which are widely used today despite being one of the oldest forms of roofing available. Shingle roofs come in various colors and styles such as 3 tab shingles, presidential shake, asphalt fiberglass, impact resistant shingles, architectural shingles, and more. There are a wide variety of colors that allow you to match your roof to your siding for that nice curb appeal.

They also come in varying thicknesses depending on your needs as well as how much protection you would like from hail or wind storms. Most people prefer asphalt shingles because of the low cost to purchase and install them, however the lifespan of shingles is much shorter than many other roofing materials.

Roofing shingles can be used on residential and commercial steep sloped roofs.

Metal – There are multiple types of metal roofing available, some of them are actually designed to look exactly like other roofing types so you can get the lifespan of metal roofing and the aesthetic look of other materials. The most popular types of metal roofing are standing seam, stone coated steal, metal shingles, metal tile, metal slate, and corrugated steel.

Some less popular types are copper roofing, aluminum roofing and tin roofing. Standing seam metal roofs are becoming increasingly popular due to their sleek style, long lasting durability, high wind resistance and low maintenance requirements. Standing seam metal roofing panels are made up of overlapping pieces of sheet metal that create an attractive appearance without having to worry about leaks as they are strongly fastened to the other panels as well as the roof decking.

Metal roofs can sometimes be noisy in rainstorms, so if you want to avoid this, make sure your property has sufficient insulation so that the noise doesn’t travel into your home. For a roofing system that will last 50+ years and comes in many different styles, metal roofing is a solid choice.

Metal roofing can be used on residential and commercial steep sloped roofs.

TileTile roofs are another common choice for steep sloped roofs, but there are some drawbacks to this form of roofing. First off, concrete tiles as well as clay tiles tend to crack easily if installed improperly and can also be damaged by large hail stone impacts which we all know is quite common here in Colorado. Tile roofs are usually made out of clay or concrete which means they are very heavy and the structure of your building will need to be able to support all of that extra weight.

When it comes to durability though, tile roofing can last for 100 years or more in some cases, so if you want that traditional Spanish clay tile look for your property and a solution that won’t need to be replaced for a very long time, tile roofing may be what you need.

Tile roofing can be used on residential and commercial steep sloped roofs.

SlateSlate roofs are extremely durable and long lasting. However, slate requires extensive preparation prior to installing and due to their fragile nature, much care must be taken when installing and walking on slate. There are multiple styles of slate roofing available, some with a smooth finish and some with a more rugged look.

The colors available are typically a dark grey or black, but other lighter colored options can be found as well. A lot of slate tiles are mounted with clips that attach to the decking and hang down to support the slate from the bottom. If you want a designer look for your home and some curb appeal, think about slate roofing.

Slate roofing can be used on residential and commercial steep sloped roofs.

Wood ShakeWood shake roofing shingles are flat pieces of wood that are cut into small shingle like rectangles that are nailed down with very little gaps between them. Due to the fact that these are wood, they can warp which make the gaps much large and more prone to leaks which is why wood shake is typically layered and installed with ice and water barriers to decrease the likelihood of leaks.

Wood shake doesn’t have a ton of styles to choose from, besides different colored stains so you can get a lighter or darker look to match the rest of the exterior. This is one of the older types of roofing out there and has decreased in popularity over the years due to how fire prone the material is. Many wood shake roofs are not covered by insurance these days as well because the wood is such a fire hazard so this is definitely something to keep in mind and even check your local ordinances on.

Wood shake roofing can be used on residential and commercial steep sloped roofs.

Solar Tiles – Solar roofing tiles are a relatively new product in the roofing world as the technology is still new and there are not a lot of manufacturers that produce these. Tesla solar tiles are one of the most popular systems as they look very similar to regular roofing shingles or slate, without the massive solar panel array that most of us are used to seeing. These systems are expensive to install but can lower your monthly electric bill and increase the value of your property.

The solar tiles generate electricity throughout the day and store it in a battery so that the power you generate can be used at any time. If you end up creating more power than you use, you may be able to sell that extra energy back to the power company. Not to mention the tax credit the government gives out for green projects that go solar. If you are looking for a cheaper solar option, you can save a few bucks with normal solar panel installation mounted onto a different roofing system.

Solar tile roofing can be used on residential and commercial steep sloped roofs.

Green RoofGreen roofs are not all that popular because they can be damaging to the roofing materials underneath the green roof and cause leaks. The benefits of green roofs are the tremendous ability to keep the property cool in the summer and reduce energy bills, but also helps to insulate the home in the winter for a year round energy efficient property. By having a thick layer of soil and vegetation on the roof, your roof is very resistant to hail damage as well, so there are plenty of upsides to this type of roofing as long as it is installed correctly.

Green roofing can be used on residential and commercial steep sloped and flat roofs.

Flat & Low Sloped Roofing Materials

Flat roofs are usually found on large commercial buildings like warehouses and factories, however many residential properties also have small sections of flat roofs so these materials can be used on both types of properties as long as the roof is flat or has a very low slope to it. Putting steep sloped roofing materials on a flat roof can cause long lasting problems, so be sure not to make that mistake. Flat roofing is also typically much for difficult to install that shingles, so you want to ensure whoever is doing the work is qualified and and experienced flat roofing contractor. Let’s take a look at the most popular flat and low sloped roofing materials on the market.

TPO – TPO stands for thermoplastic polyolefin and is becoming a very popular flat roofing system these days due to it’s white color and reflective coating. This material helps to reflect the suns rays and keep the internal temperatures of your building cooler, allowing you to save money on ac costs in the summer which is particularly useful in areas with hot summer months. TPO also has a long lifespan and due to it’s strong, heat welded seams is very good at reducing roof leaks compared to other flat roofing materials. If you’ve seen large white, flat roofs around town, it’s most likely a TPO roofing system.

TPO roofing can be used on residential and commercial flat or low sloped roofs. You can learn more about flat roofs and their advantages here.

EPDM – EPDM stands for ethylene propylene diene monomer and is one of the most widely used flat roofing systems as it has been around for decades and is very durable. You may also hear it called EPDM rubber roofing, but it is most easily identified by it’s dark black color. The dark black color of EPDM is good for cooler regions of the country where you need to keep the building warm rather than cooling it the majority of the time. It has a long lifespan of 20-30 years and can even be covered with a reflective coating if you want EPDM but not the heat absorbing capability.

The seams are slightly less durable than other systems as they usually are pulled together with seam tape which is prone to leaks when the roof expands and contracts. For extra durability, many people use a ballasted EPDM roof system which means the roof is held down by pebbles, rocks or stones laying on top of the EPDM, which is normally referred to as a built up roofing system as detailed below.

EPDM roofing can be used on residential and commercial flat or low sloped roofs.

PVC – PVC stands for polyvinyl chloride and is becoming a popular roofing system in the recent years due to it’s durability and sun reflecting properties. It is also a very low maintenance option for properties with flat roofs. The lifespan of PVC roofing is around 30 years, so it is very comparable to other systems, however it can be slightly more expensive due to the fact it isn’t as popular and many manufacturers don’t produce the material. If you are considering PVC for your flat or low sloped roof, call to speak with our professionals to explore your options.

PVC roofing can be used on residential and commercial flat or low sloped roofs.

BUR Built Up aka Tar & Gravel – BUR stands for built up roofing which is also commonly referred to as tar and gravel roofing because of the fact it is held down by placing a layer of small rocks, stones, pebbles or pavers on top of the roofing system. Having rocks on top of your roof helps to keep hail from damaging your roof underneath and also reduces wear and tear from wind, rain and debris. These systems can help your roof last much longer, however they are more expensive to install and repair because the rocks need to be placed on top during installation and they will have to be cleared and the roof cleaned before repairs can be made. If you live in an area that is prone to hail storms, this may be a perfect option for you.

Built Up roofing can be used on residential and commercial flat or low sloped roofs.

Modified BitumenModified bitumen roofing is typically dark in color and comes in big rolls that are torched down to adhere them to the roof decking or insulation. The torch down process can be very dangerous and produces harmful fumes, so it is losing popularity lately, but is still a solid roofing option, especially if it is cold applied with adhesives. Also referred to as mod bit, the typical lifespan of modified bitumen is comparable to TPO and EPDM so you know you’ll get a few decades of protection from the weather.

Modified Bitumen roofing can be used on residential and commercial flat or low sloped roofs.

Speak With An Expert To Learn More About The Roofing Types Available

Choosing the perfect roofing material for your home or commercial property can be a tough decision for anyone, but there are many things that need to be considered to make sure you are choosing the best possible roof for your budget, your needs and your desired style. If you would like to speak with one of our residential & commercial roofing professionals for a free consultation and to explore your options, feel free to reach out to us and we would be happy to explain your options in detail as well as show you some examples on how the roof system you chose will look on your property. Our technicians are available and ready to help anytime, so give us a call today to schedule a free inspection and estimate.