Matching Roof and Weather

Remodeling a house in Arizona calls for a different approach than in New Hampshire, especially with a roof. It’s the only thing separating the interior from the elements, and choosing a roof should be a carefully thought-out process.

Asphalt Composition Shingles


The most popular type of roofing material is asphalt shingles, with about three-quarters of homes using it. It’s affordable, low maintenance, easy to work with, and lasts about 15 to 20 years if taken care of. And while it’s susceptible to algae, it’s fairly resistant to fire and wind and can be used on fairly low to steeper sloped roofs.

Good for: Climates without frigid subzero temperatures, harsh winds, and freeze-thaw cycles.



An expensive option, zinc alloy, aluminum, steel copper, copper-and-asphalt and lead roofs make up for it with durability. They’re also lightweight and have a shelf life of 20 to 40 years, are good for low or steep sloped roofs, and offer good resistance to fire and wind.

Good for: Cooler climates, as metal has a high conductivity and retains heat.

Terra Cotta and Clay


Where’s a lot of heat and sun, roofs need to be able to reflect that instead of absorbing it into the house, which is what terra cotta and clay do. Terra cotta tiles are hard-baked to be less porous, while clay’s light color bounces the sun—and heat—back into the atmosphere.

Good for: Warm and dry climates, because wet and cold weather can make the tiles snap.



One of the most expensive roofing materials, slate is also one of the strongest and most durable. Although it can be fragile if treated carelessly, it’s also high-quality, lasts a century and can be recycled for another century of use, is resistant to fire and wind, and an excellent choice for steep sloped roofs. Slate also has an unrivaled aesthetic, as well as a high environmentally-friendly rating.

Good for: Warm or cool weather, but reinforcement’s needed for the latter.

Concrete Tile


A less expensive alternative to clay tiles, concrete is a heavy-duty choice that stands up well to fire, time, rot and insects. It’s heavy, which means it may need to be reinforced, but its heaviness means it takes a long time to warm up. Although concrete tiles are only composed of sand, water and cement, they’re hard-baked for extra toughness and longevity.

Good for: Warmer weather, as concrete doesn’t “catch” heat and reflects it instead.

Wood Shingles and Shakes


This choice requires a lot of maintenance, such as making sure it remains as dry and ventilated (on the underside) as possible to guard against rot; this also means regularly cleaning leaves and dirt off it. But if that’s no problem, then get ready to have one of the best- and most unique-looking roofs around. The fire-resistance rating is nearly as good as its wind resistance and the roof itself doesn’t usually last more than 30 years, but it’s fairly affordable and good for moderate to steep sloped roofs.

Good for: Windy or dry climates that don’t have a high risk of fires; extremely cold weather can sometimes have freeze-thaw cycles which can damage the material.

Before you remodel one of the most expensive parts of your home, make sure you’re picking a material that both looks good and is suited to the climate you live in.
Amy Wright
Amy Wright is the Lead Editor of Remodeling Central. When she isn't playing with her dogs she is trying to remodel a classic Chicago style brownstone with her husband.