These days, if you live in a large or medium-sized city there is practically no end to the options that are available to you when it comes to roof style. From the classic pitched roof, to the low-slope made popular by bungalows, to flat roofing options, metal roofs, and even cedar shake roofs, the choice of materials and design has never been so broad.

But that does leave many people unsure of what style is best for their needs. Whether you’re shopping for a new house or considering installing a new roof on your current home, exploring the many different styles of roof available is essential for responsible decision-making.

While not an exhaustive guide to every roof design, here’s a brief overview of the main categories of roof to help you understand the general pros and cons of each.

Asphalt Roof

Across North America, pitched roofs covered in asphalt shingles are still the most common design option. The incline of these roofs direct water into the gutters, where it is channeled away from the house, and the rows of overlapping shingles protect the roof deck from damage.

The advantage of pitched asphalt roofs is that they are comparatively cheap, effective, and — depending on what type of shingles are used — can last between fifteen and thirty years.

Cedar Shake Roof

Cedar roofs are similar to asphalt roofs in that they rely on a pitched incline to keep water flowing off the roof, but their key difference is in the materials used to protect the roof deck. Instead of asphalt shingles, cedar shake roofs use thin tiles of wood that are nailed down in overlapping rows.

These cedar shakes are durable, attractive, and long-lasting — a cedar roof can go up to forty years without needing to be replaced, depending on local climate conditions.

Flat Roof

Flat roofs for residential homes have typically been quite uncommon in temperate parts of North America, but they are increasingly coming to be seen as an attractive alternative to pitched roofs for their simplicity and ease-of-access.

Just as there are many styles of pitched roof, flat roofing uses a wide range of different materials. While PVC membrane is one of the most common, it is far from the only option available. This is why it is a good idea to get an expert roofing company to do the job if you’re considering installing a flat roof.

In addition to PVC, Toronto roofing contractors often use:

  • Spray polyurethane foam
  • Thermoplastic polyolefin
  • EPDM
  • Modified bitumen

Prices will vary depending on what roofing material you go with, but installing or replacing a flat roof is in general significantly cheaper than re-roofing a pitched roof.

Metal Roof

In many ways, metal roofs represent a whole other world of roofing. Metal roofs can be pitched or flat, and come in a dizzying array of different styles and materials, from sheet metal to metal tiles.

Metal roofs have many advantages over more traditional roofing options, especially in colder climates. They are:

  • More durable
  • Longer-lasting
  • Safer to install
  • Energy efficient
  • Require less maintenance
  • Recyclable and environmentally friendly

While there may be a bigger cost difference between metal roofs and other roof styles, many fans of metal roofing argue that a metal roof represents a better investment.

Every roofing style is different, and will have its own advantages and disadvantages. But if you’re looking for a new home, or want to re-roof your current residence, understanding the advantages and disadvantages of different roof designs is essential for making an informed decision about your investment.