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Everyone wants a roof over their heads, but maintaining that roof is often overlooked for other home improvement priorities. Keeping your roof at its optimum condition is not only critical to keeping you insulated and sealing out weather, but it's also an important contributor to the look of your home.

Most people don't think about it, but some roofs can make up almost 50% of a home's visible exterior. If half of what people see is something that you don't even take the time to think about, then it might be time to call an experienced roofing contractor.

You should approach your roofing installation with the same care you give your home's interior. You just don't slap any wallpaper up, like wise you have to find the roof that's right for your home.

Selecting the right roofing material is more than merely finding a complementary color to you home's architectural style. Popular shingles and shakes include asphalt shingles, cedar shingles, slate roofing, metal roofing (steel, copper, aluminum), and ceramic tiles. A professional roofing contractor can help you with your selections.

Asphalt roofing is by far the most popular residential roofing choice, comprising of more than 80% of all new and replacement roofing installations. That's a whole lot of shingles. Asphalt roofing shingles are generally the cheapest available, and are reinforced with fiberglass or an organic material (usually paper or wood fiber).

The 3 tab roofing shingle is the most typical asphalt shingle around, but more and more homes are upgrading to laminated shingles, also known as architectural shingles. The 3 tab shingles are made from a single layer, but the architectural shingles are composed of a multiple layers of fiberglass laminated together and many mimic the appearance of slate or wood, to give your house a more expensive appearance.

With the traditional 3 tab shingles, you must align the tabs properly or else the roof will have a wavy appearance. Architectural roofing shingles have a random pattern and are much faster and easier to layout. Architectural shingles are more durable lasting anywhere from 25-50 years, as opposed to 3 tab's 20-30 years. However, 3 tab roofing shingles only cost around $20 per square (uninstalled) and architectural can run you anywhere from $30 to $60 an uninstalled square. Although, many roofers agree that the faster installation will actually save you money in the long run.

Slate roofing might actually be the most stylish roof cover. It will transform your cottage into a castle.

Slate roofing brings a level of sophistication and beauty that other materials simply can't provide. When installed properly by a roofing contractor, slate roofs require little or no maintenance and can last for hundreds or years. Despite how elegant a slate roof might be, at $1000 per square it might not be SO elegant!

Slate is also extremely heavy. Thus, even if you can easily afford slate, make sure that your home can support the added weight.

A less expensive and increasingly more popular alternative to the slate roof look is metal roofing. Metal roofs can be made to give the appearance of any material: cedar, ceramic tile, or slate. They are lightweight, fireproof, maintenance-free, and have a fairly long lifespan. Lower end metal roofing starts out at $100 per square, but can inflate to over $600 a square if you opt for coated steels and coppers.

That's why aluminum roofing has become such a popular roofing choice. It offers the same durability but at a fraction of the price. Check with your roofing contractor or roofing installation expert, because metal roof installation can be more expensive than asphalt. However, since metal roofs can be applied over several layers of shingles, tear-off expenses are all but eliminated.

If there are no problems with your roof deck and your existing roof only has one layer of shingles, a few simple roof repairs might be all you need. However, if your roof is suffering from algae growth, curling, blistering, rotting, or bucking, it's time for a new roof. Keep in mind that a good roof is more than just shingles.

A healthy roofing system also requires hip and ridge shingles, good ventilation products, and a water-resistant underlayment. Roofing can be a big undertaking and you should definitely check with a certified roofing contractor if you want it done right.

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