Types of Roofing

The Different Types of Roof Styles and Roofing Materials

Without a roof, the essence of a building as a place to live, work and play is lost. What good are the walls of your structure if there is no roofing? A roof is the structure's and its content's protection from the weather and other elements.

Choosing the type of roof for your home is the architect's problem, so to speak, as he is the designer. If his design calls for a hipped roofing but you insist on a flat roof, then the design of the building will fail. If you are about to start building a new home or you are in the process of renovating your home (roof included) then you must familiarize yourself with the different types of roofing based on style, materials used and other roofing options.

Types of Roof Styles

There are three basic elements when designing a roof: material, durability and construction. Materials vary from the leaves of a palm tree to pre-stressed concrete or tempered glass. A roof should be so designed and constructed in consideration of its hard accessibility. It should be made of strong materials. Construction should follow the specifications of the architect. If "shortcuts" are made, then the roof might literally "fall on your head".

  • Gable - a simple roofing construction with two equal surfaces that has the same pitch and angle that meets at the ridge or top. This design is simple and inexpensive. Variant are: side gable, front gable, Dutch gable and cross gable.
  • Hipped -all four sides of the rood meets at the top or at several ridges according to the design and shape of the house. Variants are: simple hip roof, Cross hipped, Dutch gable and pyramid hip roof.
  • A-frame - perfect roof design for vacation houses. The roof acts as the wall and roofing.
  • Saltbox - this is lopsided triangle roofing evident in storage sheds during American colonial times.
  • Gambrel - this is a modified gable with slight bends on sides mostly used in barns.
  • Mansard - the roof is flat on top but has four sides sloping at the eaves. This type of roofing was popular in France during the 17th century because of its viability for a loft.

Types of Roof Materials

Choosing the right material for your roofing need would be a lot easier if you confer with your architect from the start of the design period. However, choosing the roof material would have to conform to the general design of the building. If you're building a residential unit in the middle of a highly urbanized city in the West, you can't choose to apply banana leaves or coconut leaves as roofing materials. Here are some of the most common materials used for roofing.

  • Composition shingles are the most widely used roofing material. They are also called asphalt shingles that could either be organic fibre mat or fibreglass core. Both types are steeped in asphalt and then coated with mineral granules to add colour and texture. Most shingles have an adhesive back that when reinforced with tacks, staples or nails for attaching on roof frames would result in a tight fit.
  • Corrugated Sheet could either be fibreglass, PVC or metal. There are countries in the East who still use galvanized iron sheets for roofing. This type of roofing material is easy enough to install.
  • Wood shingles or shakes are differentiated by size and texture. Shingles are cut to a specific size and have smooth finish. Shakes are rough-textures and are irregular in shape. Wood is still the best material to use if you want your home to look warm and welcoming. However, the material is hard to maintain and might also be considered a fire hazard if not treated for fire-resistance.
  • Clay or concrete tiles were mostly used in warmer climates and where there was high incidence of Spanish influence. Today, clay tiles are used all over the world as the material is resilient to almost any weather condition. Clay tiles are now available in different colours, tri-colour even. However, clay tiles are heavy that special provision for roof framing is needed. They are quite expensive but have a very long life span of up to 50 years.
  • Metal roofing is again gaining popularity as a roofing material. Standing seam steel roof can now be used on steep roofing. The material is durable and almost maintenance-free. It is also a natural fire-resisting material that is also heat-reflective.
  • Tile and Slate are long lasting and durable. However they are quite heavy which means the roof has to be structurally sound to support either tile or slate. Slates are expensive because aside from aesthetics the material has a life span of 100 years.
  • Built-up Roofing is usually used for flat roof or roofing with very low pitch and slope. The roof structure is of alternating fibreglass or felt that is treated with asphalt. The layers are finished with either tar or aggregate.

Innovative Roofing

The movement for sustainable living is a work in progress. More people are opting to go "green" by making their homes air tight to save energy and fuel. More and more homes are harnessing the power of the sun as an alternative source of energy. In the concrete jungle of the urbanites, green roof is gaining popularity. Roof tops are now being converted to gardens complete with grass, shrubs and small trees. These "green roofs" are not grown on flat cement roofing of buildings. There are sloped roofing that are also being utilized to grow plants.

Solar roofs are actually solar shingles that are integrated in the roofing system to generate electricity for the house. These solar shingles are expensive but the savings on the electric bill would eventually compensate for the costly solar shingles. If properly utilized, the use of solar shingles could lead you to be "off grid" in the long run.