A close up of a shingled roof covered in snow and ice

Roofing Types and Weather

If you’re wondering which roofing material (shingles, tiles, metal roofs, etc.) will best suit the weather and temperature in your area, you’ve come to the right place. Here is a list of the best roofing materials for each different climate.

Tropical Climates

If your area experiences tropical conditions for the entire year, your chief concern when choosing roofing material should be its response to humidity. In higher levels of humidity, your best bet will be metal roofing. With extended exposure to moisture, most roofing materials will begin to accumulate algae. This, while not extremely threatening, does not look too pretty. Those with metal roofs, however, don’t have to fear the humidity.

These roofs will naturally resist algae and can also be waterproof and rust resistant, depending on which type of metal you choose to use. Metal roofing materials are also a good choice to use in conjunction with solar panels. Metal roofs need no holes punched for solar panel installation, so there’s no risk of causing leaks or compromising your protection.

Cold, Snowy Climates

A solid choice for insulating your home in colder climates is asphalt shingles. Not only will they help attract and hold in a bit of heat from the sun when they aren’t covered in snow, but they are also durable enough to support the added weight when they are covered in snow. Cedar wood shingles and shakes will also work well in these climates. Keep in mind, however, that if your area experiences freezing and thawing cycles frequently, you’ll want to ensure that the roofing material you choose is resistant to water damage.

Hot, Sunny Climates

Metal or any light-colored tile, like slate, clay, or terracotta, will work best in these climates, since they will not absorb too much heat.  Any material that reflects heat and doesn’t hold it in will keep your place cooler and save you on the cost of cooling your home.

Like their namesake, asphalt shingles (also known as composite shingles) can become scorching on a long hot day. The material itself contributes, but the darker color is what makes it attract so much heat, so, if you’ve already bought some composite shingles, don’t fret. Stephen Chu, United States Energy Secretary, suggested that painting your roof white (or at least a light color) could reduce electricity costs for air conditioning by up to 15%. It might stand out a bit, but saving on energy costs saves the planet (Feel free to use that line in your defense when people ask why your roof is white). Using ceramic-based paints, specialized foam sprays, or elastomeric sealants are other (less noticeable) ways to treat your shingles and increase your energy efficiency.

Last Updated: November 20, 2014