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Roofing guide: Materials, pricing and installation

Get helpful tips for building or remodeling your roof.


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Choosing what type of roof would best suit your home can be a complicated and difficult task. From the look and color of the roofing material to its durability, ability to withstand local weather conditions and cost, there’s a whole lot you need to consider when finding the perfect roof for your home.

How to choose a new roof

Your choice of roofing material will be influenced by a wide range of elements, including:

  • Weather conditions. Do you live in a hot or cold climate? Will the roof need to withstand severe storms, snow and other extreme weather conditions?
  • Look. Does the roof complement the style of the house and the surrounding area?
  • Weight. Can the roof be safely supported by the house?
  • Slope. Do you need the slope to stop rain or snow from pooling on top? Or would you like a flatter slope to maximize internal height in your home?
  • Durability. How long will the roof last? Does it need regular maintenance?
  • Insulation. Will your roof offer sufficient insulation from heat and noise?
  • Environment. Is the roofing material eco-friendly?
  • The law. Does the roof meet all the requirements imposed by building codes and regulations?
  • Cost. Does your budget cover the cost of the roofing material you are considering?

What are the materials used for roofing?

There are several choices available when deciding on a roof for your home. Each option has its own pros and cons that’ll influence your final decision.


Tiles are available in a range of materials:

  • Terracotta. A natural clay product, terracotta is strong but relatively lightweight. It looks great and is quite durable, plus, it comes in a range of colors and sizes, making it a popular roofing choice. However, terracotta is far from the cheapest roofing option available.
  • Concrete. Cheaper than terracotta, concrete tiles look very similar to terracotta tiles and are made from sand and cement. However, they’re more porous than terracotta and are likely to fade more quickly.
  • Slate. Natural slate tiles are one of the most durable roofing materials and can actually increase the value of a property. However, they’re quite expensive and repair jobs on slate roofs can be tricky.
  • Synthetic. Synthetic slate tiles are cheaper and lighter than natural slate, but can be used to create a similar look.


Similar to tiles, roof shingles are manufactured as individual units. They most commonly come in asphalt, wood or slate and are laid on your roof in an overlapping pattern to keep out moisture.

  • Asphalt shingles are affordable and quite easy to install, and are resistant to fire, hail and rain. However, the metal elements that hold them together need regular maintenance.
  • Wood shingles are durable, stand up well to a variety of weather conditions and also look great. However, they’re a more expensive option than asphalt and there’s the added risk of termites and fire damage.
  • Slate shingles are durable, sturdy options, but their heavy weight makes them difficult to install. The one downfall is that they can be damaged easier than other types of shingles.


While it’s possible to find metal roofs made from materials such as tin and aluminum, most modern metal roofs are made from steel, which is durable, long-lasting and affordable — it’s also available in a wide range of colors.

Most metal roofs are installed in large, corrugated sheets which are available in a wide range of profiles, including galvanized iron, copper and zinc. There are also steel composites such as Zincalume — which is a combination of zinc and aluminum —and even metal tiles.

The main downsides of metal roofing are that it can cost more to install upfront and it doesn’t offer as much heat and noise insulation as other materials available.

How can I finance a new roof?

Depending on the size of your roof and the materials you choose, this type of renovation could run up a bill anywhere from $7,000 to $25,000. Some homeowners have recommended using home equity loans where they borrow a line of credit from the money they’ve already paid towards the principal of their home loan. Others recommend home improvement personal loans.

Reaching out to a mortgage broker or lender is another go-to for homeowners who are planning an expensive remodel. Be sure to compare your home loan options and pay attention to factors like interest rates and term length to get the most competitive financing.

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Additional costs for roof installation

Besides paying for labor and materials, you’ll have to consider other extras that can enhance the performance of your roof.


Insulation is essential with metal roofs to keep out heat and noise. Insulation is often made from fiberglass backed by aluminium, but sheep’s wool, stone wool and polyester are also used. The thermal resistance of insulation is expressed as an R-value, and the higher the figure, the better its insulating properties. Insulation can come in batts, rolls on it can be blown in — having it installed professionally can run you anywhere from $0.60-$1.20 per square foot.


Roof flashing is designed to keep rain and other moisture out of your home. There is a range of flashing options available, but they usually take the form of solid sheets made out of sheet metal, plastic or a composite material. It’s used wherever there might be a gap that water could seep through, such as around ventilation outlets, windows and where the roof meets the walls.

Aluminium, copper, galvanized steel, stainless steel, zinc alloy and synthetic products can all be used for flashing. As the availability, costs and suitability varies per project, talk to you roofer about which material would be right for your roof.


The roof plays a critical role in determining the temperature inside your home. While your roof’s ability to trap heat can be great during the chill of winter, it can turn your house into a sauna during the hot summer months.

This is where ventilation comes in. Correctly placed openings in the roof space allow airflow through the area and are covered with wire or mesh to keep out pests and dirt. A more expensive option is to install controllable vents, which allow you to direct heated air through your house when you want it or get rid of it as quickly as possible.

Who can install my new roof?

It’s recommended that you hire a roofer so they can provide professional input on materials and costs right from the start.

Before you hire a roofer, ask them the following:

  • Are you properly licensed?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Do you have the necessary insurance to work in my home?
  • Can you provide me with a written cost estimate?
  • What’s included in this quote?
  • Do you have references and past jobs I can inspect?
  • Is there a warranty on the materials you use?

The answers each contractor provides, along with any recommendations from family and friends, will help you make your final decision. As you should do with all home renovations, take time to research the price of materials, contractors and the how-to before drawing up your blueprints.

Other roofing tips

Keep these tips in mind when choosing and maintaining your roof:

  • Regular maintenance. Man people tend to forget all about their roof until something goes wrong, like a leak or a loose tile. Inspecting the area a few times a year and performing any necessary maintenance will prevent minor issues turning into expensive problems.
  • Do your research. A roof is a huge investment not only in terms of cost, but also in terms of how long it will last. Make sure you do plenty of research and are happy with your choices before you lay out any money.
  • Check with your township. Before you make any payments, find out from your town if there are any restrictions on the roofing materials or colors you can use and if there are any permits needed.
  • Costs. Remember that there are several factors that can affect the cost of your roofing project, including the material you select, the size of the job and the pitch you are planning. With this in mind, compare multiple quotes before making a final decision.
  • Roof repairs. Never put off a repair job on your roof, this’ll only increases the potential for more costly damage to occur. Make sure you choose a roofer or tiler with the right experience for the job.
  • Roof restoration. If your roof is particularly old or damaged, you may want to restore it completely. This can involve making sure it’s waterproof, mold and dirt removal, replacing broken tiles and re-painting,to bring it back to its original condition.

Guide to a successful home renovation

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