Living Smart: 5 Kinds of roofing shingles to choose from

McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

Itís important to consider the pros and cons of several different types of roof shingles and the relative cost of each roofing material, as well as consult with a local roofing contractor to determine which shingles work best for your house and in your part of the country. Hereís a look at some commonly used roofing materials:

1. Asphalt shingles

Generally the most frequently used, asphalt shingles are relatively inexpensive. Plus, if you purchase coated asphalt shingles, they may meet the Energy Star standards for a cool roof and earn you a rebate. Three-tab asphalt shingles are thinner and slightly less expensive than laminated or architectural asphalt shingles. And though they tend to be less expensive, asphalt shingles have a relatively short life span of 20 to 30 years.

2. Tile shingles

These shingles have a unique appearance characteristic of the Southwest states and colonial Spanish architecture. Tile shingles are some of the most expensive to purchase and install, but also are one of the longest-lasting and durable materials on the market, lasting more than 50 years. However, The National Roofing Contractors Association cautions that some homes might not be able to structurally support the weight of tile shingles.

3. Metal roofs

Appropriate for homes with especially flat or steep rooflines, metal roofing can either be solid metal or constructed metal shingles. Low-end galvanized metal roofs are relatively inexpensive, but can last up to 50 years. Metal roofs are becoming a popular option in many areas of the country. Once seen largely in the Northwest and Rocky Mountain regions, metal roofs are making an inroad into the Midwest and southern United States.

4. Wood shingles

More expensive than asphalt, wood shingles are known to be more aesthetically appealing because of their natural appearance. If you choose a hardwood, such as cedar or redwood, the shingles should last at least 30 years and sometimes as long as 50 years.

5. Slate shingles

This material is especially popular in the Northeastern portion of the United States, because the slate from which the shingles are made is quarried there. These shingles are extremely durable, with a life span of up to 50 years. Itís not uncommon to find old farmhouses that are leak-free and still have their original slate-shingled roofs. If your budget doesnít allow for real slate shingles, you can always consider a synthetic slate product, which has a similar appearance, but a slightly shorter life span.