Roofing shingles are flat or curved tiles that interlock and overlap in a way that channels water off a pitched roof. They are made from materials that vary in cost, weight, durability, color, and architectural style. When roofing a house with tiles, a builder needs to consider his budget, climate, the roof's pitch, and how he would like the end result to compliment the home's design.
The use of shingles is reserved for roofs with sloping sides that are steep enough to shed water into a gutter system by gravity alone. There are other roofing materials, such as metal flashing or sheets of PVC, that would be appropriate for flat or shallow roofs. Most problems with a new roof, like leaking, can be traced to improper installation, not flawed materials. Homeowners should make sure that they hire professional roofers to help them choose the appropriate tile. They should also monitor the installation of special rafters, flashing, and the shingles themselves. Problems often arise around fireplace chimneys or other vents.
Many materials are well suited to serve as weatherproof, durable, beautiful shingles. Ceramic or clay tiles come in an elongated S-shape to top Spanish-style adobe houses. Slate comes in a variety of colors, from blue to green to gray to tan, and lasts as long as 100 years. Ceramic and slate tiles can be extravagantly priced, however, and require an extra-strong roof since they are very heavy. Lighter alternatives, such as asphalt, can mimic both the color and the fire-retardant rating of those choices.
The standard asphalt shingles, also known as composite or fiberglass, are made by infusing a paper or fiberglass base with asphalt. One side is then sprayed with even more granules of a mineral of the desired color. A dependable choice, they are affordable and last 15 to 20 years. A more creative alternative is wood shake or copper squares. Wood can be a good choice for a log cabin, as long as it is not in an area at risk for wildfires. Metal tiles made out of steel, aluminum, or copper make a strong design statement, as they shine in the sunlight. These options are more expensive, but could complement a designer home.