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Top 5 Roofing Materials for Southern California Homes


Updating your roofing material can boost the value of your home and transform its appearance. If you're building a home in Southern California or replacing your roof, and you can't decide which roofing material to choose, we'll help narrow down your options by discussing the five best Southern California roofing materials.


1. Wood Shingles & Shakes for California Homes

Wood shingles and shakes are the most attractive roofing materials and a popular option for luxury homes in Southern California. The difference between shingles and shakes lies in how they are cut. Shingles tend to be wedge-shaped thin wood slabs that are made using highly accurate sawing. Shakes, while also wedge-shaped, are thicker and feature a courser texture. You make shakes by splitting.

You can fashion shingles and shakes from Western red cedar, California redwood, spruce, cypress and pine, with cedar the most popular option. Wood shingles and shakes can also be pressure treated with chemical preservatives and fire retardants. As shingles and shakes can last for 30 to 50 years in dry climates, they are great for Southern California homes.

Why Choose Cedar Shingles & Shakes for Your Home?

Cedar roofing is particularly popular and provides a number of benefits. Cedar is a low-density softwood, which means that, unlike many other siding materials, it has an open cell structure that makes it great for construction. Some other benefits of cedar include:

  • It maintains its original dimensions: Cedar stays straight, lies flat and experiences very little shrinkage.

  • It can withstand harsh elements: Cedar is naturally resistant to insects, UV rays, moisture and mold growth. It can also be treated to become fungus and fire-resistant.

  • It is workable: Due to cedar's lightweight, uniform texture and fine grains, this wood can be easily sawed, cut and nailed. It also accepts a wide variety of finishes, including fine oils, paint and solid coatings.

  • It's strong: Cedar is considered one of the toughest woods in the world and will improve your roof's structural strength.

  • It naturally insulates: Cedar keeps the warmth inside during the cooler months and the cold air inside during the warmer months. This will lead to energy savings.

  • It will boost curb appeal: Cedar roofing provides homes with a natural, timeless look that increases the home's curb appeal. As it ages, it turns to a distinguished gray-silver color.

Cedar shingles have a variety of applications and work well with the majority of era-appropriate houses, especially Nantucket-style cottages and New England shingle homes. While salty air can damage red cedar, shingles stained by someone with proficiency will not become discolored. Cedar shakes, which are split and not sawn, have a more rustic look, which makes them great for vacation homes in the countryside, ranch homes and houses in the mountains.

Why Cedar Roofs Are Good to Have in California

Many people in California understand the importance of buying environmentally conscious products, whether that means organic produce or sustainable home materials. Cedar roofs come from natural resources, and they are made from sustainable products. When you purchase cedar roofing, you make an eco-friendly decision. The wood looks aesthetically pleasing with the design of so many California houses. And cedar roofs are trending now, since lots of people are interested in green choices for home design.


2. Asphalt Shingles for California Homes on a Budget

Asphalt shingles are one of the most common roofing materials in South California, and their prevalence is largely due to their affordability and ease of installation. Asphalt shingles consist of:

  • Base material: This can be either glass-fiber mat or organic felt and provides the shingle with strength and supports the weather-resistant components.

  • Asphalt and fillers: This middle layer gives asphalt shingles their name.

  • Surfacing material: This protects against UV degradation and impact and makes the shingle more fire-resistant.

Asphalt roofing shingle products fall into three categories:

  • Strip shingles: Known also as three-tab shingles or strips, these shingles are the most basic of the three. They are constructed from just one asphalt layer, meaning they typically cost and weigh less than other types of asphalt shingles. These shingles were the most common type on the market before the development of designer shingles in the '80s. Today, they are most commonly used on less-expensive homes.

  • Dimensional shingles: Known also as laminate or architectural shingles, dimensional shingles are the most prevalent type. They consist of two or more asphalt layers, which are fused together to form a richer and thicker multi-dimensional look.

  • Luxury shingles: Luxury shingles, as the name implies, are the most high-end asphalt shingles on the market and offer exceptional protection against weathering.

Some of the major benefits of asphalt shingles include:

  • Flexible use: Asphalt shingles can adapt to various shapes, angles and forms to help you find a custom roofing solution.

  • Variety of design: Asphalt shingles can be manufactured to imitate other architectural styles, a more affordable option for homeowners on a budget.

  • Widely available: You can find these shingles throughout the United States and Canada.

  • Wide range of colors: Asphalt shingles are also available in a wide range of colors and can be strengthened with organic materials or fiberglass without altering their look.

  • Resistance to damage: Asphalt shingles can be produced with a Class 4 impact resistance rating, the highest possible rating. This material can also be rated to be resistant to strong winds.

  • Sound protection: This roofing material is highly effective at dampening and reducing external noise.

  • Fairly long lifespan: If well maintained, asphalt shingles have a lifespan of up to 25 years.


3. Metal Roofing for a Unique Look

Many Southern Californians like metal roofing for its unique look, durability, relatively long lifespan and ability to reflect the sun. It is also lightweight and recyclable. Metal generally goes well with cabins, bungalows, and cottage-style and contemporary homes. It is available as both shingles and panels, and popular materials include ornamental copper, stainless steel and aluminum.

1. Ornamental Copper

Ornamental copper is widely considered one of the best-looking metal roofing materials. More expensive than aluminum or steel, copper is normally not used for an entire roof but rather as an accent for dormers, bay windows and various other places where homeowners may want to add an elegant touch.

You frequently find copper on historic structures, steeples, cupolas and other similar features. This roofing metal is available as sheeting, short-standing seam panels and even shingles.

While copper is sometimes used as flashing with other materials, you should not use it with steel or aluminum roofing. The majority of metal roofs include preformed flashings, and when copper touches dissimilar metals, it makes the other metal deteriorate faster.

Runoff from copper roofs may stain brick, concrete, other metals and virtually anything else it touches. For this reason, take care to direct the runoff to an area where it won't cause staining.

2. Stainless Steel

Stainless steel roofs are composed of steel alloyed with chromium and are available as both shingles and panels. This roofing features a coat that makes it impervious to corrosion and rusting. Other advantages of stainless steel roofs include:

  • Exceptional durability: The composition of this material makes it durable and resistant to a variety of harsh elements, including strong winds, snow and rain.

  • Long lifespan: Depending on the quality of the materials and installation, roofs made of stainless steel tend to have warranties lasting from 20 to 50 years.

  • Lightweight: Despite its thickness and durability, stainless steel is also lightweight, with a weight that rarely exceeds 150 pounds per sheet.

  • Versatility: This material works well with any roofing style and allows you to create many complex shapes.

  • Variety: There are a large number of available finishes and coatings.

  • Energy efficiency: Stainless steel roofs possess good insulating quality and R-value and reduce how much heat enters the home during the hotter months and gets out during the colder months.

3. Aluminum

Aluminum roofing displays several desirable qualities, such as light weight, durability and resistance to corrosion. It is also available in shake, shingle, slate and standing seam profiles.

Aluminum doesn't rust, making it a solid choice for Southern California's coastal areas. Because of its resistance to rusting, aluminum lasts for an exceptionally long time.

Aluminum roofs regulate the temperatures in your home. Whereas copper and steel roofs retain heat, causing homes to get hot during the summer, aluminum deflects heat and keeps your home cooler. In the summertime, roofs made of aluminum reflect some of the sun's rays. This helps the home stay cooler despite the hot weather outside. When it's cold outside, aluminum can also reflect heat back into your home, warming your house.

4. Clay Tile & Concrete Tile for Heavier, More Durable Roofing

Clay and concrete tiles are heavy, durable roofing materials that add elegance and texture. They are some of the most popular roofing materials in Southern California, as they tend to work best with Mission, Mediterranean, Spanish and Southwestern-style homes.

Clay tiles are made out of earthen clays molded into interlocking or rolled shapes and fired to become hard. You can leave these tiles unglazed, in which case they appear reddish-orange, or glaze them to make ceramic roofing tiles. Clay tile roofs are a popular option for regions with hot climates or salty air, which explains why they are so common in Southern California. Clay tile lasts for a long time, sometimes over a century.

Concrete tile, a popular clay alternative, offers similar advantages and is installed in a similar fashion. You form concrete tiles from sand-mix concrete colored any hue you desire. This roofing material comes in a number of profiles, including ones that resemble wood shakes and rolled clay tiles. These tiles sometimes feature a decorative coating. Concrete tiles are considerably heavier than clay tiles and make a good choice in regions with strong winds. Concrete tiles typically cost around one-third the price of their clay counterparts and generally last 50 years or more.

Some benefits of both tile types include:

  • Cost-effectiveness: Considering that these tiles have such a long lifespan, they are quite cost-effective.

  • Good color retention: As the colors in clay tile roofing come from the mixture of clay and the colors of concrete tiles come from iron oxide pigments, tiles are nearly impervious to fading.

  • Little maintenance: Both clay and concrete tiles require very little maintenance if installed correctly. If a part of the roof gets damaged, only the concrete or clay tiles that have been affected need to be replaced.

5. Slate Roofing With Decent Durability

Slate is often associated with luxury and affluence. Some of the advantages of slate roofing include:

  • Durability: This is perhaps the most extraordinary characteristic of slate. If you install a slate roof, it is unlikely you'll have to do it again, as the material lasts between 75 and 200 years.

  • Environmentally friendliness: Asphalt shingles must be replaced every 20 to 30 years, so choosing a slate roof, which can last over a century, is clearly better for the environment.

  • Fire resistance: Few roofing materials provide better resistance to fires than slate. Unlike a good number of roofing materials, slate won't catch on fire when hit by a spark from fireworks or wildfires.

One of the greatest challenges with slate is its installation, as it requires skill to install, and qualified slate installers are often hard to find. Homeowners who want to imitate the look of slate for considerably less money can install synthetic slate, which is made from recycled rubber and plastic combined with engineered polymers. Looking from the ground, it is practically impossible to tell the difference between synthetic and authentic slate. This engineered roofing is also light, making it an option for homes that cannot bear the weight of authentic slate.

Although synthetic slate roofing tends to be less durable than real slate, it typically comes with a generous warranty of 50 years max.

Contact Custom Shingles for Custom Wooden Shingles Installation

If you're a Southern California homeowner, custom wood shingles provide an elegant, charming option suitable for the climate of your region. And when you're ready to have your wood shingles installed, Custom Shingles has the best team to get the job done.

A roof is one of the most prominent features of a home and commands the attention of passersby. Roof installation requires specialized tools, knowledge and attention to detail — and at Custom Shingles, we have all of these.

We offer custom wood shingles that have been difficult to find or produce in the past. With our shingles, homeowners give their house the custom appearance they would get from using a skillful craftsman. Though a contractor in your area may be able to cut their own shingles, Custom Shingles can save you on labor costs and do the job even better.

Are you interested in putting wooden shingles on your roof? At Custom Shingles, we strive to provide the best experience for our customers and offer free estimates, roof assessments, design assistance, inspections and many other services. To receive a free estimate or ask any questions about our services, please call us at (877) 323-3553 or fill out our contact form.