There seems to be hundreds of warm and fuzzy adages about what it means to have “a roof over your head.”


Now, don’t get us wrong – we love cute sayings about the home. But what if the roof needs new shingles? Or it's not properly maintained? Or it’s not ventilating correctly? These things all play a part in keeping your home, or a home you’re looking to purchase, operating smoothly. And they’re all covered below.


The most popular shingles among homeowners. They’re versatile, relatively inexpensive, and fairly simple to install. Asphalt shingles come in two types. The first kind is three tab (budget-friendly, easily maintained, last 20+ years) and the second is architectural (durable, can increase home value, last 30-50 years).


  • Easy to install and remove, which can cut roofing costs
  • Vary widely in price and design, giving you options
  • Designed to help deflect UV rays and cool your home


  • May last about 20 years before they need to be replaced
  • Hail, high winds, or severe snow/ice can cause damage or leaks
  • Fungus growth can be harmful if in a perennially damp region

Cost per 100 sq. ft.: Between $100 and $1501


Typically, metal roofing comes in steel, aluminum, and copper – and is best for steep or flat rooflines. The number of residential homes with metal roofs has been growingly rapidly in the last decade, likely due to the durability that exceeds asphalt shingles.


  • Built to endure blistering heat, destructive winds, snow, and even fire
  • Ultra lightweight – about half the weight of asphalt shingles
  • Can last up to 50 to 80 years before replacement


  • More expensive than asphalt roofing
  • Metal roofs can be noisy, particularly during a heavy rainfall
  • Susceptible to denting if large tree branches or large hailstones were to fall
  • Most roofs must have a specific vertical rise to support a metal roof

Cost per 100 sq. ft.: Between $100 and $1,000 (depending on type)2

Cedar or Wood SHINGLES

There are two types of cedar wood roofing: cedar shingles (machine-cut, for a trim look) and cedar shakes (hand-split, for a rustic feel). Though they aren't as functional as asphalt or metal roofing, cedar roofing holds a visual and natural appeal that’s desirable of older/historic homes.


  • Typically last 30 to 40 years
  • Eco-friendly, made from natural renewable materials
  • Lightweight, allowing the shingles to be installed on a standard roof frame


  • Require inspections and may need treatments to prevent fungus, mildew, and insects
  • Vulnerable to fire, even with proper maintenance
  • Generally costly to maintain, since cedar can warp and crack

Cost per 100 sq. ft.: Between $400 and $7003


No matter the shingle, each one is vulnerable to various conditions and elements. That’s why it’s important to know how to care for each type and make minor fixes before they turn into major headaches.


Inspect for moss and algae – If you discover any growth, use zinc or lead control strips to remove.

Check for loose or damaged shingles – A little roofing cement goes a long way to repair a shingle from high winds, hail, and debris.

Examine roof flashings – which are strips of sheet metal placed over the joints of the roof for water prevention.


Keep different metals separate – When two different metals come into contact and become wet, corrosion happens quickly.

Touch up scuffs and chipped paint – Check manufacturer’s recs before doing so. If excessive, contact a technician.

Look out for exposed fasteners and damaged washers – both should be inspected annually. Fasteners could get too loose or too tight and washers can be affected by sun exposure.

Get your coating/sealant inspected – Most last about 20 years before replacement, so contact a technician if you’re close to that mark or suspect an issue.


Keep gutters clear of debris – If buildup occurs, this can increase moisture under the shingles or shakes.

Inspect for moss and algae — If you discover any growth, use zinc or lead control strips to remove.

Clean out leaves and needles from trees – More than other shingles, cedar shingles need to breathe. If leaves or needles accumulate, it can shorten the roof’s lifespan.

Perform a yearly roof cleaning – Regardless of condition, wood shingles require an annual cleaning which can be done with a large broom or garden hose. If your roof is larger and/or steep, contact a professional for assistance.

GET YOUR MIND into the gutter

Clean gutters at least once a year, and multiple times if you have overhanging trees.

Check for clogs after major storms, particularly where the gutter meets the downspout.

Wear a long-sleeved shirt and rubber gloves.

Have a sturdy, extendable ladder handy and always make sure it’s stabilized.

Use a gutter scoop (found in hardware stores) to remove leaves, gunk, and debris.

Dump removal on a tarp or in a bucket, not on your lawn.

Flush the gutters and downspouts with a hose after removal.


Ice dams can come with the territory if you live in the snowy regions of the country. Dams and icicles form when snow melts, runs down your roof, and refreezes once it reaches the edge. These can damage your shingles, gutter, and siding – and may even seep into your ceiling once it melts again.

The best way to prevent ice dams is to keep your attic and roof cold by closing up attic gaps/cracks and flushing out warmer attic air with proper ventilation.

In need of some cash to fund a major roof repair? We can help with that. Check out our step-by-step infographic on How a Cash-Out Refinance Works.

If you’re looking to purchase a new home, understand how roofing and many other factors play a part in the home appraisal with this handy Q and A appraisal guide.