September 5, 2018

Roof Types: What to Consider When Making the Big Decision

Different roof types function differently and have varying degrees of longevity, so we’ll cover some background details that you should know about your roof to help make your decision.

Time to read:
3 Minutes
Written by
Nicholas Capobianco

Whether you are building a new home or replacing your current roof for one reason or another, the biggest question to ask yourself is: “Which roof type is best for me?”

There are quite a few roof types that you can choose from when planning, and it can sometimes be overwhelming to digest. Couple that with the high cost of installing a new roof, and you may find yourself under some unwanted stress! Don’t worry, though. We are here to help you make this important decision.

Different roof types function differently and have varying degrees of longevity, so it is important that you have a full understanding of this subject. Although this may seem like a substantial task, at Roofr our job is to make your experience as simple as possible, so we’ve decided to outline it all in this post. We will go over everything you need to consider when making this decision, and then finish off by listing some of the different roof types that you can choose from.Ready to jump in?

Some Rooftop Basics

Before getting into the specifics, let’s look at some of the background details that you should know about your roof to influence your decision. Almost all roofs consist of these components.

Sheathing - In the beginning stages of your roof’s construction, sheathing is added to create a surface where additional roof materials can be added. This is accomplished with boards or sheet materials, which end up creating the cover for the house or building.

Roof Structure - Once the sheathing is created, the roof’s framework is finished by adding rafters, trusses, and other structural components. This further supports the roof’s sheathing.

Roof Covering - The covering of your roof is what you would be referring to when talking about different roof types. This includes tiles, shingles, and other materials that help protect the sheathing.

Drainage - The entire design of your roof will impact its ability to shed water and avoid the possibility of water-induced damage.

Now that we’ve covered some basics, let’s dig into the specific considerations you should make as you decide which roof you will be putting over your head.

Roof Slope

The slope of a roof represents the amount of incline it has, and is the starting factor that determines just about everything else. Also referred to as the ‘rise over run’ (some of us may be reminded of high school geometry classes!), it’s expressed as a ratio of the vertical increase to the horizontal increase. The slope of a roof directly influences the types of materials that can be used in its construction. Not only this, but a roof’s slope also determines the amount of attic space, type of ventilation, drainage, and its overall design.

The way that the slope of a roof is expressed is by indicating the amount of vertical rise for every 12 inches of horizontal run. Therefore, a roof with a pitch of 4:12 would rise in height by 4 inches for every foot in length.

There are three categories that your roof can fall into depending on its slope:

  1. Flat roofs: Anything under a 2:12 slope classifies as a flat roof. Flat roofs are found commonly on commercial buildings and warehouses. Some homes have a combination of sloped roofing and flat roofing, as well.
  2. Low slope: These are roofs that have a slope between 2:12 and 4:12. This is more common in residential homes.
  3. Steep slope: This includes slopes between 4:12 and 21:12. Steep rooftops are found on older homes and can support heavier materials like stone and tile. They also last longer than flat rooftops.

When considering what type of roof you want to install, make sure that you gain an understanding of how steep or flat your current roof is. You can make a pretty good estimation by looking at a satellite image of your roof, while comparing that to what it looks like in person.

Rooftop Features

Another thing to consider when deciding on what roof types to choose from has  to do with the features or systems that will be added to your roof. Most recently, one of the most popular rooftop features in both Canada and the US are solar panels! Certain roof types are better than others for adding solar, so if you are planning to go this route, make sure to take that into consideration.

Whatever you think may be added to your roof, write this down so you can communicate that to your roofing company when you are getting the job done. Now that you know the basics behind your rooftop’s needs, let’s get into the specific types of roofs that you can install.

Common Roof Types

At Roofr, we encounter all kinds of rooftops, but here are some of the most common ones we deal with:

Asphalt Shingles

First off, roof shingles are flat, rectangular roof coverings that overlap each other. These shingles can be made out of many types of materials, but asphalt shingles are by far one of the most popular roof types across both Canada and the US. Asphalt, which is a form of petroleum, is added to the shingle to serve as a protective, waterproof cover. Although they’re not the best quality option available, they are relatively inexpensive and can get the job done on a small budget.


Metal is also a popular material that is used in roofing. It is a bit more expensive but lasts much longer thanks to its increased durability. You can use several types of metals like zinc, aluminum, steel, and…


Although copper is a metal, it deserves its own category due to the level of expertise needed to install it at a high level. Copper roofs and roofing features are truly works of art. The copper roofing experts that you will find on Roofr have years of experience complementing the beauty of the homes that this material is applied to.

Cedar and Other Wood

Cedar is a popular choice for wooden roofs. It is rustic, eco-friendly, and one of the toughest woods you can choose from. Cedar and other wooden roof types also provide high-quality insulation and architecturally appealing features. One important thing to note about wooden rooftops: some local building codes limit the use of wood shingles unless they have been treated with a fire-resistant material.


Slate roofs are by far one of the most appealing and unique types of roofing material available. Because of this, however, they are also the most expensive. Slate is an incredibly durable stone, which can last more than 5 times longer than asphalt shingles. This means slate roofs are likely to last a lifetime. Once mined, large chunks of slate get chiseled into thin, waterproof tiles. It takes special skill to install a slate roof, and our professional roofers at Roofr have decades of collective experience installing this roof type.

So, back to our original question: “Which roof type is best for me?”

With all of this information, you should have a great place to start your research into a new roof. There are an abundance of roof types that you can choose from, so even with this knowledge, it would probably be in your best interest to work with an expert or at least read up a little bit more in our FAQ.

If you have any additional questions about roofing, give Roofr a call today at 866-819-5215 to speak directly with a roofing specialist!

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