The character and appearance seen with wood shakes offer a natural look that no other material can. The flexibility of cut, color and thickness means no two wood roofs are created equal. In contrast to asphalt shingles, the small gaps between the wood shakes allow air to "breathe" through the roof and even helps to insulate the attic. When it comes to maintenance and repair, wooden roofs tend to demand a higher degree of attention than others. Due to their obvious fire risk, some pressure treated shakes can be combined with fire retardants, but are limited in their duration of protection. Cedar tree heartwood shakes are of highest quality, but can be difficult to find. Outside of the heartwood, other woods tend to be more prone to twisting and warping, further limiting their lifespan.
Asphalt roofing is the most common material utilized today. Shingles, modified bitumen membranes, roll-roofing, and built-up roofing are all asphalt products. Often it presents an economical option for residential roofing. Asphalt shingles come in four different types: strip, laminated, interlocking, and large individual shingles. Laminated shingles utilize additional layers of tabs to provide extra thickness. Interlocking shingles are most effective at reducing the damaging effects of wind. Individual shingles are shaped in a hexagon or rectangle.
Metal roofing is primarily constructed with steel or aluminum and sometimes copper, among others. Steel roofing is coated with galvanized zinc or a combination of zinc and aluminum to reduce the corrosion rate. Metal roof design includes traditional seam and batten, shakes, shingles and tiles. When it comes to rain, hail, and bad weather, metal roofs provide a solid sheathing that controls noise as effectively as any other roofing material. For ice damming at the eves, however, metal roofs are especially helpful. Although they tend to cost more than asphalt, their lifespan can range from 2-3 times longer than shingles made of wood or asphalt.