The Best Roofing Materials for Every Climate

You may be wondering what the best roofing material is for your house. You don’t want to just use anything for such an important part of your home!

One of the critical factors of making this decision is the climate in which you live. You then have to choose a material that performs best in that climate that is also affordable to your budget and the level of upkeep you’re willing to put into the roof.

Read on to learn more about five different roofing materials and the climates they are best suited for.

Best Roofing Material for Cold Weather: Slate

Slate is the highest quality material of which a roof can be made. It can last as long as 150 years, so you will never have to worry about replacing the roof again in your lifetime.

They’re also beautiful, and they give a home a regal look. They will add value to your home and will increase curb appeal. Although slate doesn’t require much maintenance, which helps justify the cost, the initial investment can be as much as $1500 a square foot with installation.

Why Slate Is Good for Cold Weather

Slate roofs are strong and great for cold weather. It’s a material capable of withstanding snow, rain, and ice. Slate is so insulated that you will never be able to feel the temperature of the roof in your home.

After installing a slate roof, the roof will require minimal upkeep while increasing the house’s curb appeal with its look and durability. It’s naturally fire and mold-resistant thanks to its low absorbency. It can endure low temperatures without breakage or cracking as water can’t freeze within the tiles.

In areas with long, cold winters that stay below freezing, slate can keep warmth inside and the elements at bay.

Drawbacks

The downsides to installing slate are:

  • Cost
  • Heavy tiles
  • Not suitable for every home

The main drawback or deterrent to getting a slate roof is the cost. Slate is the most expensive material from which you can make a roof. After factoring in installation, it may be too much for some budgets.

Slate is also heavy and can add upwards of 500 lbs to your pre-existing roof. These heavy tiles will not work on every type of home. You will want to have a professional evaluate the structure of your home to ensure that the framing and foundation are strong enough for a slate roof installation.

Best Roofing Material for Warm and Windy Weather: Metal

Metal roofing is a good option for people who live in warm and windy climates. It is exceptionally resistant to wind, and the surface naturally does a great job reflecting the sun. If you use a reflective treatment, the effect will be even greater.

Why Metal Is Good for Desert Homes

Homes in the desert must deal with extreme heat, high winds, and occasional water damage. A metal roof, when installed correctly, reflects heat away from a home, and as it reflects 60-90% of the sunlight, it can reduce the energy bills needed for cooling. Metal roofing can withstand wind gusts of up to 140 miles an hour.

Metal shingles have safety benefits, as they will never catch fire and can last as long as 70 years. If you purchase high-quality shingles, you won’t have to worry about cracks and overall maintenance will be minimal.

Drawbacks

There are some drawbacks to a metal roof:

  • Price
  • Noise
  • Susceptible to water damage

High-quality, professional installation is a must for a metal roof. It’s essential in order to take advantage of its ability to cool with proper reflection and enhance its durability. If the metal shingles are made with inferior quality materials, possess faults, or are poorly installed, they may be susceptible to water damage.

Best Economical Roofing Material for Cold Weather: Asphalt

Asphalt shingles are the most popular and economical roofing material for a cold climate. They’re also eco-friendly, as the shingles are composed of aggregates made from processed crushed rock, gravel, and sand, as well as other recycled materials (plus fillers and binders).

Why Asphalt Is Popular in Cold Places

First, asphalt structure isn’t dependent on higher summer temperatures for cohesion. It holds together well in cold weather. Some people in colder climates like asphalt shingles because they are easy to replace whenever needed, even during winter. Weight-resistant asphalt shingles can also withstand snow and ice.

When you consult with a professional roofer, ask questions about the durability of the shingle for your area and what climatizing options are available (such as protective coatings).

Drawbacks

The drawbacks to asphalt are:

  • Not suitable for extreme temperatures
  • Can crack and break
  • Must be installed in the summer

Asphalt shingles work quite well in the cold, but they aren’t suitable for areas where the weather fluctuates wildly.

Installing asphalt shingles should be done in warm weather, as it’s very difficult to install them to the pre-existing roof in the cold.

If you live in a place where it’s freezing cold in the morning and very hot in the afternoon, asphalt shingles might not be the best idea. They can crack under these weather conditions.

Best Roofing Material for Mild Weather: Wood

Sometimes the best roofing for your house might be the simplest one. Wooden shingles have been around ever since the 18th century, and they can give a home a classic rustic look. If you live in a place with many wooded areas, it will fit in very well with your neighborhood’s aesthetic. 

A home with a wooden roof is sure to catch the eye of buyers, and may help a home sell faster due to it’s unique appeal. Wood shingles work the best in the areas of the country where it does not get too hot.

Why Wood Shingles Are Better for Cooler Temperatures

Cedarwood shingles are durable, affordable, and very well insulated from cold weather, even repelling moisture when appropriately treated. Unfortunately, they cannot reduce the effects of sun on the home, and direct sunlight can cause wood shingles to lose color and deteriorate.

Wood shingles last as long as, if not longer than, asphalt shingles. But they’re cheaper and often look better. There are quite a few different kinds of wood shingles, so most homes can find something to complement their existing look. Wood shingles are usually made from recycled and reused materials. After the lifespan of the roof has elapsed, the roofing material can be recycled again.

Drawbacks

The drawbacks to choosing a wood-shingled roof are:

  • More prone to parasites and bugs
  • Susceptible to mold
  • Direct sunlight can damage the wood

Wood shingles are organic, and non-treated material can suffer from many of the same issues as trees (including being infested with bugs).

If your roof is under trees, a wooden roof will not get sunlight and may become the perfect breeding ground for mold. If your home is in a sunny climate and not in a shaded area, you will need to watch for damage caused by direct sunlight.

Best Roofing Material for Dry Weather: Concrete Roof Tiles

Concrete roof tiles are a less expensive and less heavy alternative to slate tiles (with a similar aesthetic) that can also stay strong in high winds and resist hail. Concrete can cost less than half the price per square foot of slate. For this price, it will function well in both hot and cold weather – but it should especially be used in a dry climate.

Why Concrete Roofs Are Better for Dry Climates

While other materials like wood can suffer in dry climates, concrete requires a relatively dry atmosphere to maintain its strength. Concrete absorbs water, which makes it a great choice for climates with low rainfall.

Wildfires can occur and spread quickly in a dry climate, but concrete tiles are fire-resistant. Concrete roof tiles are low maintenance. With time, recoloring may be necessary for aesthetic purposes. But you don’t have to clean concrete roofs nearly as often as you have to clean roofs made with other kinds of material (which makes it ideal for areas prone to drought).

Concrete tiles are made out of 100% recyclable material, so you can feel good about your home’s impact on the earth. Depending on the community you live in, you may even be able to get a tax rebate for having an ecologically sound home.

Drawbacks

The drawbacks of concrete tile roofing are:

  • Lifespan
  • Water absorption
  • Weight

Concrete tiles last only about half as long as their slate counterparts. If the roof begins to absorb moisture, the water can cut the lifespan even shorter. Concrete is also heavy, and water retention can make the shingles even heavier.

This is significant, because a slate roof can last over a hundred years and many homeowners prioritize lifetime roofs that don’t need to be replaced during the time they live in the house. This can have a considerable impact on the resale value of your home.

If you live in an area that is dry for part of the year has heavy rain during other times, a concrete roof can become so saturated that mold will eventually develop. This absorbency means that concrete can develop stains if it retains water (leading to an undesirable aesthetic).

Conclusion

The roof is arguably the most important part of your whole house. It protects you, your family, and your possessions from the elements. If you choose your roofing material wisely, you will feel safe, happy, and secure for a long time regardless of the climate.

If you’re ready to make the upgrade, contact our experts at Baltic Roofing. We’re here to help!

Author Information

Louis Hanley (Community Manager for Baltic Roofing)

Louis is a community manager for Baltic Roofing where they help the greater Chicago community with everything from high-quality roof replacements to skylight repairs. He is an expert on all things roofing and home improvement. Outside of work, he’s a huge Cubs fan and enjoys spending time with his dog, Roscoe.

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