Regardless of location, clay makes for a wonderful choice. It is resistant to insects, mold, and decay. It will not burn and tends to outlast the decking it is built onto! Many homes with a southwestern, Italian, or Spanish Mission style lean more toward this direction. Keep in mind, that while reliable, this type of covering is rather expensive to install and should never be walked on.
Slate is near indestructible and lasts for years. Finding a 100-year old home with the original slate is not uncommon. And much like clay tile, it is resistant to insects, mold, and decay. Though also quite expensive, slate comes with the peace of mind in knowing you’ll have a roof for life.
If you don’t feel like paying out for the high cost associated with clay or slate, the least expensive route is definitely asphalt roofing shingle. The shingles come in two types: organic, and non-organic (typically fiberglass). There is also a wide selection of colors to choose from! However, this option comes with a vulnerability to wind and ice damage.
Made from Western Red Cedar, wooden shingles are another option worth considering. Cedar is resistant to rot and decay and comes in two types: Hand sawn and tapered shingle, and a shingle which is sawn. Cedar shingles are also divided into three categories pertaining to quality; named simply One, Two, and Three, with One being the best for roofing.
While materials such as copper, zinc, and lead were some of the most popular materials used in the late 1700’s the industry and since evolved. Today it is most common to see Galvanized or Galvalume Steel roofs. Galvanized being the more popular choice of the two, while Galvalume is preferred more in the southern US due to its success with hurricanes. Metal is installed with ease and very quickly. It is resistant to fire, insects, mildew and rot, and is often seen in areas which see a large amount of snowfall.
Wherever you happen to reside it is important to review your individual situation in regard to cost and what your home will require durability-wise. Shop around, do the research, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. With the proper materials and installation, you may have a roof that will last many years to come.