When it’s time to get a new roof, you have a lot of decisions to make about the type of roof that’s best for your needs. In our previous articles, we’ve shared a checklist to help you figure out what your roofing needs are, and we’ve explored the pros and cons of southeast Pennsylvania’s most popular roofing material, asphalt shingles.

In this article, we’ll dive into the pros and cons of two other common materials used in roofing: metal and wood.

Metal roofs

Metal roofs, once very common, are again gaining popularity because of the many benefits they offer. Metal roofing is available in panels or sheets, and the most frequently used metals are aluminum, zinc, and lightweight steel. Copper is also an option, but it is very costly.

Pros of metal roofing: Metal roofing’s greatest benefit is its durability. Its ability to shed rain and snow better than many other roofing options prevents damaging build-up and ice dams in the winter months, and its strength also makes it highly resistant to impact. Many metal roofs have warranties up to 50 years, but can last even longer.

Another plus for metal roofs is their versatility. Modern metal roofs can be manufactured in a wide array of styles, many of which can mimic the look of slate, tile, or wooden shingles or shakes. They are suitable for a variety of styles of homes, and often have a high fire safety rating.

Metal roofs are also environmentally friendly. In addition to often being made from recycled materials and being completely recyclable at the end of their lifespan, they aid energy efficiency in the home because they reflect solar heat, reducing cooling costs in warmer months.

Cons of metal roofing: Metal roofs can be more expensive initially than other roofing materials, although it is important to consider their durability in determining their value vs. cost. They can also be quite noisy in a rain storm, especially if there is not enough insulation or layering installed underneath. Finally, while metal roofing is resistant to fires, it can be a difficult material for firefighters to break through should they need to access your home in an emergency.

Wooden Roofs

Wooden roofs, most often made of cedar, pressure-treated pine, redwood, or cypress, come in two main types: shingles and shakes. Shingles are cut by machine so they tend to have smoother edges, and be very consistent in size and shape. Shakes are cut by hand, so they tend to have a more rustic look to them and are usually a little thicker than shingles.

Pros of wooden roofs: The natural beauty of wooden shakes and shingles makes them the roofing material of choice for many home owners. Depending on the type of wood you use, they can also be resistant to moisture and pests or insects.

Wooden roofs also tend to last longer than asphalt roofs by at least five years, and provide better insulation. They can be made from reclaimed or recycled materials, and are recyclable at the end of their lifespan.

Cons of wooden roofs: While properly treated wooden roofs can have a high fire safety rating, untreated wood has a very poor rating, and is even prohibited by the fire codes in some areas that have a high risk of fire, so it’s important to check your local fire codes and regulations when considering a wooden roof.

Wooden roofs, especially untreated ones, can also high maintenance costs to prevent staining or damage from moss or other plant growth, and can be very costly to repair.

A professional roofer can help you weigh the pros and cons of metal or wood when you’re ready to replace your roof, and answer any questions you may have about how to find the best match and value for your home.

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