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Choosing The Right Replacement Roof: A Top-Level Decision

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In a perfect world, the house you fell in love with – and bought – several decades ago would feature a roof fashioned of some indestructible, magical material that would never need replacement or repair. However, realty being as it is, the fact is that roofs of older homes may eventually need to be replaced.

 If your roof is displaying cracked, curled or missing shingles, this is an indication that the roof is near the end of its life. As a damaged or leaky roof can cause tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage to your attic and rafters, it is not wise to delay replacement. While this can be a major expense, replacement can actually end up saving you money in the long run. 

A professionally-installed, properly-insulated roof of the appropriate materials can not only increase the aesthetic appeal and resale value of your house, it can help the house stay warmer in winter and cooler in summer, saving in energy costs while increasing comfort and livability. 

Many types of roofs are available, each with advantages and drawbacks. Factors that will affect the selection of the right material include your budget, your personal preference, the weather conditions in your area, and even the existing slant, or pitch, of your roof. 

Asphalt Shingles: Time-Honored Classic

Asphalt shingles, the most popular roofing choice in North America, are also the most affordable and easy to install, especially when purchased in the traditional 3-tab shingle style. However, many homeowners choose to upgrade to the newer architectural shingles, which are almost twice as thick. Also called “laminated” and “dimensional” shingles, these materials create an attractive, layered appearance when installed, and can be customized to match permanent elements such as brickwork. When properly installed, 3-tab asphalt shingle roofs can last up to 30 years; roofs of architectural asphalt shingles may last as long as 50. However, both types can be somewhat susceptible to extremely high winds. 

Because asphalt shingles need the help of gravity to funnel rainwater down into eavestroughs, they are best on roofs with steeper pitches. If your roof is flat or mildly pitched, asphalt shingles may not be the best choice for you. 



Rubber Roofs:  Lightweight But Durable

Rubber is a good choice for roofs with non-existent or mild slopes. Composed of a material with the tongue-twisting name of ethylene propylene diene monomer – EPDM for short —  rubber roofs are durable, light, attractive and resistant to weather.  Because they can be applied over existing shingles, rubber shingles and roofs are inexpensive to install.  The shingles themselves, however, can be more expensive than those made of asphalt. But as they are energy-efficient and sturdy, they can save you money through reduced repair and energy costs. 

Wood Shingles and Shakes: Rustic Beauty

Wood shingle roofs, which weather naturally into a pleasing silvery-gray, are an attractive choice for many homeowners. The shingles are usually fashioned from white, red, or yellow cedar, and are durable and weather-resistant when properly maintained. With a cedar shake roof, the lumber has been split rather than sawn, resulting in a rougher-hewn, rustic look that is also very appealing. 

Wood roofs require considerable labor and expense to install, as air must be allowed to circulate; wood strips or lattices must be nailed to the rafters before the roof installation. Traditional cedar shingle and shake roofs must be cleaned and oiled periodically to avoid developing mildew and moss. However, the newer, pressure-treated varieties of wooden shingles don’t require this maintenance.  A properly-installed cedar shake or shingle roof can last up to 50 years.

Metal Roofs: Surprising Beauty and Versatility

Galvanized metal roofs – a traditional fixture on barns and utility sheds – can also be used for homes. They are extremely resistant to wind, cold, snow, hail, rain and high winds, and can also withstand extreme heat. Metal roofs are available in steel, aluminum, alloy and copper. With different colors and styles available, metal roofs don’t necessarily have to feature a silver “metallic” look. Metal roofs can also be custom-painted to complement the colors of siding and trim. Ease of installation and relatively low cost are two other “pluses” for metal roofs. A properly installed metal roof can last for 30 years.



The most desirable – but also by far the most expensive – metal used in roofing is copper. Featuring a beautiful bronze glow and then weathering to a mellow patina, a copper roof can immediately impart an upscale look to a house.  

Whether you select asphalt, rubber, wood or metal as your material, your attractive new roof can protect and beautify your house for decades to come. There is nothing like the feeling of security that comes with knowing you have topped off your house with an effective rooftop, one that can help warm your family in winter, cool them in summer, and keep them and their belongings safe from the elements.   Happy choosing!

About The Author

Robert Landry is co-owner/partner of The Cutting Edge Roofing in Pickering, Ontario, Canada. Robert has more than 25 years’ experience in the commercial and residential roofing industry and has led the company to its current status as an award-winning roofing provider with a Best of 2012 Home stars Award in the Roofing Division. He is avid ice hockey fan and enjoys spending his free time with his family.