No matter whether we’re doing new construction or a roof replacement, one of the most common questions we get is, “What roof is best for my house?” We get it from landlords, from current homeowners, and from people who are getting ready to build a home.
It would be nice if there were one simple answer to that question. Unfortunately, there isn’t.
The goal of a roof, at the end of the day, is to keep the elements out of your house. The best roof is the one that’s able to do that for you. But there are a few factors that influence what type of roof is the best option.
What’s the pitch of your roof?
If you have a low-pitched or flat roof, you can’t use the regular three-tab or architectural shingles that are commonly used in residential applications. Those shingles are designed to shed water when placed on an angled surface, but if the angle is too low, water can pool rather than run off. That eventually means that the shingles and the plywood or OSB decking will both need to be replaced.
If you have a low-pitched roof, you’ll need to go with something that’s designed for the application. Roll roofing (shingle material in a roll) is one option, as is metal. TPO and other commercial roofing systems are occasionally used on homes as well, but only if the home is built with that in mind.
What’s your budget?
Depending on your budget, some options may be out of your price range. For example, slate is a beautiful and durable roofing material, but it’s prohibitively expensive for most people. For some applications (especially manufactured homes), three-tab shingles may be the only thing within budget.
The most common roofing option is asphalt shingles, either the thinner and less durable three-tab variety or the thicker laminated shingles. These provide a good balance of cost and durability.
What’s your location?
In Oklahoma, roofs don’t tend to last due to the intensity of the wind and storms. Some people will try to avoid this by using another roofing option like metal or perhaps opting for impact resistance on their shingles. Use caution.
In the case of metal roofs, insurance companies may only cover structural damage, not cosmetic, so you may have to live with a roof that looks like it got shotgunned. And in the case of impact resistance, it helps, but there’s only so much it can do.
In May 2010, many homes in Moore had their roofs destroyed because one storm produced hail so large it plunged straight through both the shingles and the decking. There’s only so much you can do to fight physics. In other areas like California that get very few storms, roofs may last much longer.
How long do you plan to live there?
Some homeowners opt for an expensive roof when they’re planning to sell their home and believe they can make the money back on the sale of the house. This is usually a waste of money. You’re better off choosing a roof that’s similar to the homes around it and using the extra money for other improvements. Landlords and those preparing a home for sale have to weigh their options and find the balance between durability and cost.
If you’re staying there long-term, great. Feel free to invest. Just don’t expect to get the money back.
There’s no one-size-fits-all option that is best for every single roofing application. If you’re trying to replace your roof, the best option is to speak to a reputable contractor who can ask you some questions and look at your home. Then you can assess which direction to go. At the end of the day, you can work together to make sure you have a durable, safe, beautiful, watertight roof.