The roof is a very important part of your home. Without a roof a house would be a maze-like group of interconnected walls. You could say that it would resemble a fort perhaps, but you wouldn’t call it a house unless it had a roof. In the wilderness the first thing you tend to do to create a shelter is to erect some kind of roof; something to protect you from snow, rain, avian fecal mater, excessive sunlight, or anything else that might be assaulting you from the sky.
In the past people made thatched roofs with a simple lean to or a-frame (apex) design. This created cheap insulation for the home and helped keep rainwater off the inner roof. Thatched roofs are still used today in some tropical climates. It is said that thatched roofs are not a fire hazard but I have seen enough films where people tossed a torch or burning stick onto a thatched roof to know that I would want a more modern roofing material for my house.
There are a lot of good options to choose from when it comes to roofing materials. The most important thing is to pick a quality material that will protect you and your home from the elements. Some of these options are easy to implement if you are simply redoing your roof and trading up to a new material. Others involve more of a total house redesign and as such, would be more for those who are looking for a new home all together. One important thing to remember when changing your existing roofing material for a newer one is that your house may have been built with a certain roof in mind and changing to a much heavier roof material may cost extra to reinforce the roof itself.
There is nothing that will give your house more of a “Southwest” look than a clay tiled roof.
These clay tiles make a beautiful long lasting roof. They don’t burn or rot, but they are heavy so be sure your roof can support the weight. Clay tiles are one of the more expensive options available. At $10 to $15 per square foot, covering a large roof with clay tiles can be costly. A major disadvantage of the clay roof is that the tiles can break if you walk on them. So no rooftop drinking with this material.
If you don’t want to deal with clay tiles, concrete may be the roofing material for you. Concrete tiles cost about 30% less than Clay but still more than simple asphalt shingles.
Like clay, concrete tiles offer good insulation from heat and cold. While not quite as hard as clay tiles the concrete tiles will last as long as your house unless something were to destroy them. It should be mentioned that because of the porous nature of concrete the tiles will absorb some water when it rains which will add to the weight. Concrete tiles can be made in the rounded “S” shape that closely resembles clay tiles but it also comes in flat shingle like tiles.
Asphalt or Composition
The asphalt shingle is the most commonly used roofing material in America. This low cost shingle is fairly strong and will last a long time considering it’s low cost.
You should not expect these shingles to last more than 20 years. They may need to be changed sooner if you live in extremely windy areas. A major advantage of asphalt shingles is that they will not break from walking on them so it is easier to walk on your roof to clean your gutters, hang elaborate Christmas lights, or relax and drink.
Slate is an interesting alternative to clay and concrete.
Slate tiles cost more than clay but the slate tiles are also very hard and completely non-porous. So there will be none of the water issues that you might possibly run into with concrete tiles. Even though slate tiles are strong it is not recommended that you walk on them.
Wood shingles can work well to protect your roof from the elements but they will not last the way other roofing material will. Given enough time, the wood shingles are susceptible to rot, warping, and insect infestation. The cost of wood shingles are more than what you would pay for simple asphalt or composition roofing so finding anyone using these older shingle style roofs is becoming less common.
Perhaps this has added to the rustic look and feel that wood shingles can give to a home. I grew up in a home with wood shingles and I remember when we had to change to asphalt shingles. I knew it was better for our house but I remember thinking that our home had lost some of it’s charm.
Architecturally speaking, if there is anything that gives your house more of a Southwest look than a clay tiled roof, it is a flat adobe style roof and house.
If you are building from scratch, a flat roof can actually cost less than a pitched roof. They do need more regular maintenance than a pitched roof, though. if the drainage holes are clogged the water that will pool on your roof can cause leaks. One advantage to this style is the usable space the flat roof provides.
If the house has enough space and structural support you can even create a nice Jacuzzi getaway.
A living roof is any kind of roof with some living plant life growing on it. Most look something like this.
This roofing material provides a good amount of insulation and for obvious reasons contributes to an eco-friendly lifestyle. Some houses take this concept further such as this extreme example of a living roof where they also have the space to utilize their roof as a yard.
In a way it combines the living roof with the “getaway” idea of the flat roof.
For years now some of the most persistent door to door sales people that you will encounter are the people trying to get you to install solar panels on your roof. This can greatly reduce your electric bill and add value to your home.
Most of the solar panel arrays that they want to install are fairly ugly and can detract from the look of your house. It is not surprising that the Tesla company is now producing textured glass roof tiles that resemble other roofing materials like stone or tile but also provide the solar panel technology built in.
The best part is that they are incredibly durable as well so you will not need to worry replacing these panels any more than you would with other tile roofing material.
Naturally if you are building a new home from scratch then you will be facing more options to choose from. If you need to decide on a roofing material think about the look you want your house to have, the budget you have to work with, and whether or not you have a need to walk around on your roof. Hopefully knowing the information about your roofing options will help you decide what roofing material you will want for your home.