Note: This is cleaning/treatment/restoration only. We do not offer roof repair services.
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Choosing the Right Type of Roofing Material: A Comprehensive Guide

Choosing the Right Type of Roofing Material


With countless roofing materials available in the market, choosing the right one can be an overwhelming task. However, the selection should not just be about aesthetics; it’s important to consider functionality, durability, and affordability. In this comprehensive guide, we will navigate the landscape of different types of roofing, providing you with valuable insights to make an informed decision.

Traditional Types of Roofing Materials

When it comes to traditional roofing materials, some have stood the test of time, proving their worth in both residential and commercial buildings. Here, we will explore three of the most common roofing materials.

Shingle Roofs: A Popular Choice

Shingles are the most popular roofing material, particularly in North America. They can be made from different materials such as asphalt, wood, and slate, each with unique advantages and life spans. There are many different types of roof shingles present

Asphalt shingles, or three-tab shingles, are an affordable roofing option. They can last anywhere from 12 to 30 years and come in a variety of colors to enhance the look of your home. On the other hand, wood shingles and shakes provide a rustic aesthetic, while slate shingles offer unparalleled longevity; slate roofing can last over a century with proper maintenance.

Tile Roofing: An Age-Old Tradition

Tile roofing is one of the oldest roofing methods, tracing back to ancient times. Traditionally, these were earthen clays molded into rolled or interlocking shapes. Clay roofing offers aesthetic appeal and a lifespan of several decades. However, the material is heavy and requires a robust roof structure to support its weight.

Metal Roofing: Durability and Versatility

Metal roofing comes in various types and forms such as panels, standing seam metal roofing, and even metal shakes and shingles. These roofs are often favored for their longevity and durability, able to withstand severe weather conditions. They also offer energy efficiency by reflecting sunlight, which can reduce cooling costs.

Innovative Roofing Types: Modern Solutions for Your Home

The roofing industry has seen significant innovation, with new materials providing homeowners with more choices than ever. Let’s explore some of these modern roofing types.

Membrane Roofing: Ideal for Flat and Low-Slope Roofs

Membrane roofing is a popular choice for flat roofs and low-slope roofs. Materials used in this category include EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer), TPO (Thermoplastic Olefin), and PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride). These materials are resistant to leaks and can last several decades with proper maintenance.

Built-Up Roofing: A Layered Approach

Built-Up Roofing (BUR) systems are constructed by alternating layers of roofing felt and bitumen. This traditional type of flat roof is durable and waterproof, with the top layer typically finished with a reflective coating for UV protection.

Solar Shingles: Harnessing the Power of the Sun

Solar shingles are a relatively new addition to the roofing materials to consider. As the name suggests, these shingles not only provide protection from the elements but also generate electricity. Ideal for sunny roofs, they can significantly reduce energy costs over time.

Synthetic Roofing: A Cost-Effective Alternative

Synthetic roofing is a new category that mimics the appearance of other materials like slate and wood but at a lower cost. It’s made from engineered materials such as rubber, plastic, and polymer composites, offering durability and resistance to weather and fire.

How to Choose the Best Roofing Material for Your Home

No matter what type of roofing material you are considering, several factors should influence your decision.

Durability and Lifespan

Some materials, such as slate and metal, can last for a century or more, while others, such as asphalt shingles, typically last between 12 and 30 years. Your choice should reflect how long you plan to stay in your home and your budget for potential future replacements.

Aesthetic Appeal

The roof contributes significantly to the overall look of your home. Therefore, consider the style and color of the roofing materials. You want something that complements your home’s architecture and enhances curb appeal.

Cost and Maintenance

Roofing costs can vary widely depending on the material and installation costs. Additionally, some roofs require more maintenance than others, which can add to the long-term cost. Thus, always consider both the upfront cost and maintenance expenses when choosing a roofing material.

Local Climate

The local climate should significantly influence your decision. Some materials perform better in specific conditions, like metal in areas prone to wildfires or membrane roofing for areas with heavy rainfall.


Lastly, consider the environmental impact of your choice. Some materials like metal roofing and solar shingles are more environmentally friendly, as they’re recyclable and energy-efficient, respectively.

Final Thoughts

In the end, choosing the right roofing material for your home should be a balance between aesthetic appeal, cost, durability, and sustainability. If you’re unsure about what material to choose, consult with a licensed roofing contractor or read home improvement reviews to gather opinions from those who have first-hand experience with these materials.

Remember, roofs are not just about protection; they’re about enhancing your home’s style and efficiency. So, choose wisely, as this is a decision that will impact your home for years, if not decades, to come.

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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