When you are planning to have a new roof installed there are many things to consider. The first thing to consider is the type of roofing material you prefer. There are three roof types often seen on homes in the Northwest. Composition shingles (or asphalt shingles), cedar shakes and tile.


Over 95% of all residential homes in the NW are roofed with asphalt shingles. The popularity of asphalt shingles is due to several factors. They are fire resistant and relatively inexpensive to purchase & install. They are very durable and almost maintenance free, they last a long time and choices of color and texture are endless. All asphalt shingles share common construction. A reinforcing matte is impregnated with asphalt & colored granules. About 25 years ago, fiberglass mats were introduced to replace earlier paper mat. This change improved the strength, durability and life of the shingle. About this same time manufacturers also developed the architectural dimensional shingle. This improvement dramatically improved the aesthetic appeal of the shingle, which I believe is the number one reason of the asphalt shingles popularity. Architectural shingles, unlike standard 3-tab shingles with cut out grooves, have multiple overlapping layers laminated in place to form a heavier shingle with textured appearance. Different colored granules are also mixed to give a more patterned and dimensional look. Also, some brands add a dark band of granules to give certain shadow lines, which gives even more dimension to the roof. Architectural shingles cost about $10.00 per 1 00-sq. ft. more than 3-tab shingles. (Approx. $250-$300 on the average house.) This is well worth the better appearance gained, unless of course you have a house where the roof is not visible from the ground. All asphalt shingles have a self-sealing asphalt strip, activated by heat from the sun, to provide a tight seal from the wind & weather. The hard crushed rock granules are colored by ceramic coating to resist fading with age. In addition, 3-M Corporation, the manufacturers of the roofing granules, recently introduced the algae block shingle. The algae block system prevents the unsightly black staining you often see on composition roofs. Our NW wet climate is particularly vulnerable to this problem. On an algae block shingle 10% of the granules are coated with copper. This gives protection from algae uniformly across the entire roof. Price difference for the algae block shingles is $10.00 per 100 sq. ft. or $250 for the average roof.



Cedar shakes are also a popular roofing choice. When I started roofing in 1985, I didn’t touch a composition shingle for the first 2 years, mainly because at that time cedar shakes were a more popular choice. Now they have quadrupled in price, and the availability of cedar is scarce.

Cedar shakes are also losing their popularity because of their being a fire hazard, and also due to the improvements made to the asphalt shingle.



Tile roofing is commonly used on higher end homes. The cost to purchase and install tile is even more expensive than shakes. Because they weigh about 4-5 times more than asphalt shingles, it’s normally not an alternative for a re-roof. New houses with tile roofs were engineered and built for the additional weight.

However, there are lighter weight tiles that have been recently introduced, but they are more than twice the cost of regular cement tiles. Most homeowners choose not to invest this much money in their roof.