“Roofs Come in Different Colors?”

If you’re like most, you probably rarely pay attention to roofs when it comes to property.

About 10 years ago when I was going over a proposal to replace an existing roof with a client I reached the line item that stated that she could choose the color of the shingles. I informed her that I had the sample board with me for her to look at and her honest response was, “Roofs come in different colors?”

I was taken off guard a little, but really how much does the average home or property owner know about their roof or about roofing in general? If a property were likened to movie, the roof would probably end up with a screen credit at best. Yet the roof of a  property is it’s first and main line of defense against moisture and therefore should receive proper attention.

Multiple roof types exists but they will always fall into one of 2 categories:

Steep Slope:

A roof that has at least 2 or 3 inches of vertical rise per 12 inches of horizontal run. This is the type of roof common on most residential homes. Gravity helps water to drain off of the property with this roof type.


Low or Flat Slope:

A roof with less than 2 inches of vertical rise per 12 inches of horizontal run. This is a common roof on large commercial buildings as well as many of the row homes in the city of Richmond.

Examples of Roof Slope Pitch


Next we have the materials used for the roofing.

On steep slope roofs the most common varieties are:


Example of Asphalt Roof

Composition or Asphalt Shingles: The most common type of roofing installed today. They consist of a fiberglass mat embedded into asphalt (tar) and then covered with granules. These roofs usually last 20 to 30 years and come in a variety of colors and styles.


Example of Metal Roof PanelMetal: Metal roofing can come in long panels with standing or vertical seams, in a stamped shingle form, or a variety of other shapes. Metal roofs are light weight, fireproof, energy efficient, and usually require very little maintenance. The lifespan of metal roofs is usually 40 to 60 years, but can be longer.


Example of Natural Slate RoofNatural Slate: A common site in Richmond’s older neighborhoods. Natural slate is one of the most aesthetically pleasing and durable roofing materials. Natural slate is quarried from the earth and comes in a variety of colors and shades. When properly installed and maintained, Virginia Buckingham slate roofs can last nearly indefinitely. Other sources such as Pennsylvania and Vermont slates can vary from 50-175 years depending on slate composition.


Example of Wood Shake Shingle RoofWood Shakes / Shingles: An easily distinguishable roof that gives a property a rustic look. Cedar shakes are a natural roofing material that is harvested from cedar trees. Shake roofs were very popular in many of Richmond’s upscale suburban neighborhoods in years past and even a requirement in some. Average life span in the Central Virginia Region is 15 to 20 years.


Example of Spanish Tile RoofTile: One of the easiest roof types to spot is the spanish style clay tile roof. Tile roofing is not limited to only clay styles though, other materials like concrete and plastic are also used. Available in a myriad of styles and colors, tile roofs can generally last 50 to 100 years.


For low slope roof applications, the most common types include:


Example of Modified Bitumen RoofModified Bitumen: Sometimes confused for rubber, modified roofing systems are actually an asphalt based roofing system that has been chemically modified to have rubber like qualities. Modified roofs are installed by using an adhesive (SBS) or by melting it with a torch (APP). Appropriate for roofs that have adequate drainage, modified roofs typically last 12 to 15 years.


Example of Built Up RoofingBuilt-up Roofing: A combination of paper bound together with asphalt and then coated with gravel or granules. One of the oldest methods of low slope roofing. Lifespan can very greatly depending on installation methods, environmental conditions, and maintenance but 15-30 years is common.


Example of Single Ply RoofSingle-Ply: Single ply roof materials can vary from rubber to plastic compounds and are the most commonly used low slope roofing today. These are sheets or rolls that are mechanically attached with fasteners or adhered to the underlying substrate. Lightweight and energy efficient, these roofs can last 15-30 years depending on the thickness of material used.

Example Of Liquid Applied Roof-Liquid Applied:
A monolithic roof system without seams. A combination of rubber-like elastomeric coatings usually reinforced with glass reinforced plastic to provide additional tensile strength. These roofs can deliver up to 25 years of performance or more if routine coatings are maintained.



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