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When building or making improvements to a house, particular attention is often paid to the construction of the porch roof. The appearance of the roof is usually a concern, as well as the amount of protection it can offer against extreme temperatures, rain, or snow. Many types of building material may be adequate for a porch roof, but some may be better suited for specific climates. Among the materials that may be considered include wooden shingles and shakes, asphalt shingles, thatch, metal, slate, and ceramics.
Wooden shingles and shakes are often valued as porch roof materials because of their appearance. Several types of wood can be used for making shingles or shakes, including wood from the Eastern White Cedar, Western Red Cedar, and Alaskan Yellow Cedar. Shingles and shakes differ from one another in their thickness. Shingles are cut to a uniform size and are traditionally smooth, whereas shakes are split from logs, making them thicker and a bit more uneven. This type of material is usually expensive to install, and may not be allowed in some areas due to fire codes.
Asphalt shingles are possibly the most common kind of porch roof material. This is also considered one of most inexpensive roofing materials. Additionally, the quality of most asphalt shingles may be guaranteed for up to 30 years. This type of shingle can be purchased in a wide variety of colors and is available in either a three-tab or architectural design. Three-tab shingles are usually very flat; architectural shingles are made to appear thicker.
Thatch porch roofs are often used in warmer or tropical climates, although there are also many thatch roofs in colder areas. This type of roof is usually made from local vegetation, which might include water reed, heather, or straw. When properly built, a thatch porch roof may last up to 50 years, and has good wind and water resistance. It also has natural insulation properties, keeping homes warm in winter and cooler in the summer. Due to the intensive labor involved in building them, thatch roofs can be very expensive. It can also be difficult to put out a fire on a thatch roof.
Metal porch roofs are typically inexpensive and very weather resistant. They may be especially installed in areas that receive a lot of snowfall. Galvanized metal sheets are possibly the cheapest possible material, whereas copper is a more expensive choice for a metal roof that is often valued for its appearance. A properly installed metal roof can last approximately 50 years.
Slate is snow and ice resistant and considered very attractive, but it is also usually expensive. Slate shingles are heavy; because of this and their cost, they are seldom used in porch roofs today. Engineered, synthetic slate — often made of recycled rubber or plastic — can be substituted.
Ceramic tile porch roofs are most commonly found in the Mediterranean. The process of making and installing ceramic tiles is very time consuming, so the cost of such a roof is likely to be high. Quality tiles must be used to ensure that no cracks appear, which would cause the tiles to absorb moisture and shatter during a freeze. Although these materials are expensive, ceramic tile roofs, if installed correctly, can last between 60 and 80 years.