Roofing Material Overview

Association of Construction and Development
October 22, 2012 — 1,558 views  

Roofing Material Overview

Humans have used all kinds of materials as roofs. They ranged from mud to grass to thatch, to other materials natural and manmade. There is still a great variety of roofing materials that can be used for modern buildings. Some of them are:


Asphalt is the most popular type of roofing. It’s made out of roofing felt that’s been impregnated by asphalt, and then coated with minerals. Some have a fiberglass base. Asphalt can come in shingles or as wide strips. These strips are called roll roofing and are usually laid on flat roofs.

Asphalt shingles can last as long as 30 years if they’re well maintained and if the climate is mild. They at first don’t need maintenance, but after the years they can curl or crack or even melt in the heat. However, repairing asphalt roofs, both shingles and roll roofing, is easy.

Slate or Clay

Though they are beautiful when they’re first installed, these tiles are heavy and expensive. However, they're also fireproof. Clay tiles are seen most often in the southwest and slate is seen more in the east. Repairing a chipped or cracked tile is difficult, but a well maintained tile roof can last as long as the house.


Wood can come in shingles or shakes. Shingles are sawn by machine, or appear to be. The rougher looking shakes look like they were made by hand. A disadvantage is that wood roofing isn’t fireproof unless it’s treated. It’s also expensive. Untreated wood also can rot and warp. However, wood shingles and shakes are easy to repair and are beautiful if they're in good shape. A well cared for wooden roof can last up to half a century.

Built-up Roofs

This material is used on flat roofs. It's made on the job by layering felt with asphalt or coal tar, then spreading a layer of gravel over the layers. This sort of roof must be installed perfectly, or it will leak. Repairs aren’t difficult. This sort of roof doesn’t last as long as the others, though the more layers it has, the longer it will last. It usually lasts for 5 to 20 years.


Metal roofs can be surprisingly beautiful. They can be made out of aluminum, galvanized steel, or copper or terne, a tin and steel alloy. All metal roofs have to be fastened with the same kind of metal or risk corrosion. Unsurprisingly, metal roofs can last for 35 years or longer.


Association of Construction and Development