Roofing Five Material Types for Your DIY Project

Indianapolis roofing contractors

Asphalt. Metal. Slate. Rolling. Green.

These are all materials or categories of materials.

These materials have one thing in common.

They are used to build roofs.

By the context of home improvement projects, building or repairing a roof is generally not attractive. It is the least ‘sexy’ project of home ownership, something akin to getting teeth done; it’s an apprehensive task with a minor degree of pain involved, but in the end better for the overall result.

Four out of five homes are covered with asphalt shingles in the United States. While there are others–metal results in a cool industrial look and rolling is a cheap, easy way to put roofs on quickly–asphalt is predominant. Part of the reason is the durability of asphalt: asphalt shingles have a lifespan of 20 to 50 years depending on the climate in which they are installed.

Asphalt has other qualities as well. It has a nondescript look and color pattern that goes well with the colors of most houses. Asphalt is actually made of a composite of fiberglass, asphalt, and mineral granules. It generally comes with 20-30 year warranties and holds the benefit that all roofing companies should know how to lay down asphalt shingles. It is the most popular shingle.

There are four other types mentioned as well. Here are the next four.


Metal roofing is most often associated with warehouses. It has that industrial feel of a sheet metal factory–sleek and bright in the sun, reflective of the American dream. They look cool, even on houses as large as mansions, are fire resistant and protect against invasive insects.

While this look is cool and has many benefits, including for the environment, metal shingles are more expensive than asphalt shingles and you might have trouble finding a contractor able to install them. They are a high skill job.


Slate is for the home re-modeler that wants nothing less than the actual most durable, weather resistant, and protective roofing. Slate is actual stone. While this type of roofing is expensive and difficult to install, slate has the benefit of cleaving off in small sheets, making it easy to quarry, and therefore low maintenance.

Rolling Roof

Rolling roof is a material often used for outbuildings and sheds, but also of low slope roofs. Rolling roof, as its name suggests, is basically a sheet of material that can be laid on top of the structure of a house, then nailed into place. It’s not attractive by any means, but it’s good at keeping out moisture and is relatively inexpensive.

The Green Roof

This is the most unorthodox roof of the five. A green roof involves laying a waterproof membrane down on top the structure, then providing adequate drainage. This allows plants and moss and other living objects to grow on top of the roof. The green roof has benefits: It puts oxygen back into the air, absorbs rain water, and provides thermal protection.

With every home roofing projects, it’s important to listen to a roofing contractor on what you can and cannot do. A rolling roof may be on your agenda but roofing contractors may point out that you need roofing material for extreme weather, depending on the climate you are building in.

Residential roofers can provide you with a durable roof, even a hail proof roof, and guide you in the installation or install it themselves. When it comes to slate or metal, highly skilled residential roofers are needed.

Residential roofers can provide a barometer on your climate and the particular qualities of your house to determine which type of material you need. Residential roofers can also lend their expertise to determine costs.

When you’re thinking about remodeling your roof, remember to research as much information as possible before starting a project.

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