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5 Types of Roofing Systems: Choosing the Right Type for Your Building

5 types of roofing system


Roofing comes in different types, materials, and systems, depending on the structure’s design, location, and purpose. The roofing industry provides various options for residential and commercial buildings, from flat roofs to tile roofing, from membrane roofing to standing seam metal roofs, and more. Choosing the right type of roofing system is essential to ensure durability, energy efficiency, and aesthetic appeal, among other factors. In this article, we will discuss the 5 types of roofing systems.

5 Types of Roofing Systems

These roofing systems can help you make an informed decision for your roof replacement or new roof installation project.

1. Asphalt Shingle Roofing System
2. Metal Roofing Systems
3. Tile Roofing Systems
4. Built-Up Roofing Systems
5. Membrane Roofing Systems

  1. Asphalt Shingle Roofing System

One of the most common types of residential roofing is the asphalt shingle roofing system. Asphalt shingles are affordable, easy to install, and widely available in different colors and styles, such as 3-tab shingles, architectural shingles, and designer shingles. This type of roofing material consists of a fiberglass or organic mat coated with asphalt and mineral granules. Asphalt shingle roofs can last between 15 and 30 years, depending on the quality of the shingles, the climate, and the maintenance.

  1. Metal Roofing Systems

Metal roofing systems have become increasingly popular in both residential and commercial roofing due to their durability, energy efficiency, and aesthetic appeal. Metal roofs can be made of different materials, such as steel, aluminum, copper, and zinc, and come in various styles, including standing seam metal roof, corrugated metal roofs, and metal tiles. Metal roofs can last between 40 and 70 years, depending on the material, the design, and the maintenance. They are also fire-resistant, wind-resistant, and eco-friendly.

  1. Tile Roofing Systems

Tile roofing systems are commonly used in warmer climates, such as Florida, California, and the Southwest, due to their ability to reflect sunlight and reduce heat transfer. Tile roofs can be made of different materials, such as clay, concrete, and slate, and come in various shapes, such as flat, curved, or interlocking. Tile roofs can last between 50 and 100 years, depending on the material, the installation, and the maintenance. They are also resistant to fire, insects, and rot.

  1. Built-Up Roofing Systems

Built-up roofing systems, also known as BUR, are commonly used in commercial roofing due to their ability to withstand heavy foot traffic and high impact. BUR roofs consist of multiple layers of bitumen and reinforcing fabrics, such as fiberglass or polyester, and are topped with a layer of gravel or mineral granules. BUR roofs can last between 15 and 30 years, depending on the number of layers, the quality of the materials, and the maintenance. They are also resistant to water, wind, and UV radiation.

  1. Membrane Roofing Systems

Membrane roofing systems, also known as single-ply roofing, are commonly used in low-slope roofs, such as commercial buildings, due to their ability to provide a seamless and waterproof layer. Membrane roofs can be made of different materials, such as EPDM, TPO, PVC, and modified bitumen, and come in various colors and thicknesses. Membrane roofs can last between 10 and 30 years, depending on the material, the installation, and the maintenance. They are also energy-efficient, lightweight, and easy to repair.

Choosing the Right Type of Roofing System

Choosing the right type of roofing system depends on several factors, such as the climate, the building design, the budget, and the purpose. Here are some tips to help you choose the right type of roofing system:

  1. Consider the climate: The climate plays a significant role in determining the type of roofing system that can withstand the weather conditions in your area. For instance, if you live in an area with high winds, hurricanes, or tornadoes, you may want to consider a metal roofing system or a tile roofing system that can resist high winds and impact. If you live in an area with heavy rain, snow, or hail, you may want to consider a built-up roofing system or a membrane roofing system that can prevent water infiltration.
  1. Consider the building design: The building design also affects the choice of roofing system, as some types of roofs may not be suitable for certain structures. For instance, a flat roof may be ideal for a commercial building with a large surface area, but may not be suitable for a residential building with a steep slope. A tile roofing system may look aesthetically pleasing in a Spanish-style home, but may not be suitable for a modern-style home.

  2. Consider the budget: The budget is also a critical factor in choosing the right type of roofing system. Some roofing materials, such as slate or copper, may be more expensive than asphalt shingles or metal roofs and may require professional installation and maintenance. However, investing in a high-quality roofing system can save you money in the long run by reducing energy costs, avoiding frequent repairs, and increasing property value.

  3. Consider the purpose: The purpose of the building also influences the choice of roofing system, as different types of roofs have different functions and benefits. For instance, a commercial roof may require a different type of roofing system than a residential roof, as it may have different safety regulations, ventilation needs, and accessibility requirements. A residential roof may prioritize insulation, noise reduction, and curb appeal, while a commercial roof may prioritize durability, accessibility, and energy efficiency.

  4. Consult a roofing contractor: To choose the right type of roofing system, it’s important to consult a professional roofing contractor who can assess your building’s needs, recommend the best roofing options, and provide a detailed estimate of the cost, timeline, and warranty. A reputable roofing contractor should have a license, insurance, and experience in installing, repairing, and replacing different types of roofing systems.


Choosing the right type of roofing system is a crucial decision that can affect the safety, comfort, and value of your building. Whether you need a new roof installation or a roof replacement, it’s important to consider the climate, building design, budget, purpose, and professional advice before making a final decision. By understanding the benefits and drawbacks of different types of roofing systems, you can make an informed and confident choice that meets your building’s needs and exceeds your expectations.

Cedar Shake Roof Cleaning in Des Moines Iowa
Cedar Shake Roof before & after cleaning

Meet Bruce

50 Years of Experience &
Over 2,000 Shake Roofs Cleaned

Bruce Sullivan has over 50 years of experience in maintaining, cleaning, and restoring cedar shake roofs. Making him one of the top authorities on cedar shake roofs in the US.

Watch the Cedar Shakes Cleaning Process in Action in this video

Play Video about Roof Cleaning How to Remove Moss, Lichen, Fungi from a Cedar Roof Sullivan Roof


What can I say? Bruce and Keith provided an exceptional service, and they are really nice guys too. Found out at the last minute they were in Minneapolis, and they fit me in for a cedar shake roof cleaning the next evening after their regular job was done. Even cleaned up my gutters, small fence, and small deck at no charge. The place looks outstanding! Highly recommended.

Mike Richards

I highly recommend this business. Due to the work performed we are going to get another 10-14 years out of our cedar shake roof. We were told by some roofing companies that the roof should be replaced in 2 years. I lucked out and found Sullivan Roof Cleaning while researching companies that perform this service, and was pleased to learn that the company does work outside of Iowa. If you need your cedar shakes cleaned, go with Sullivan Roof Cleaning.

Eric Oelrich, 
St Cloud, MN

Bruce did a great job cleaning the whole exterior of my house. The roof has new life! It looks practically brand new. All the mold and moss on the roof, on the gutters, under the eaves, completely gone. He exceeded all our expectations. When he tells you what he can do for your house, you can believe and trust him. Great guy, great service.

Stuart Malone
Kansas City, MO


Cedar shakes are organic. Though a resilient material. Being organic they need to be maintained. Over time, like any organic material that are subjected to weather elements, they reach a stage of deterioration. Like UV exposure, moisture and seasonal changes. Which results in moss, mold, mildew, lichen and brown rot fungi. These infestations need to be removed to further preserve the integrity of the cedar shake.
The proper way to clean a cedar shake roof is from a ladder. By spraying a special formulated solution onto the shakes and then rinsed with a garden hose pressure. Best done by a professional cedar shake roof cleaner. Not DIY recommended.
No. Pressure washer will require walking on the shakes, which will harm them, and even at its lowest setting will also damage the shakes.
On average, cedar shakes should be cleaned every 10 ten years. Subjective to the grade of the shakes and the amount of surrounding tree cover.
Avoiding walking on a cedar shake roof, other than for repairs.
Never seal a cedar shake roof. Cedar shakes need to breathe. They expand and contract in rain conditions. Seal will shorten the lifespan, to the point of premature replacement.
Staining has no real preserve value and can also harm the integrity of shakes, as stated, they need to be able to breathe. Also, if the shakes are not properly cleaned staining can seal the deteriorating infestation within the shakes.
Depending on the grade of the shakes and installation, and if maintained properly, 40 to 60 years.


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