How to Choose A New Roof

How to choose a new roof for your home.

by Brian Sullivan

Here is some simple advice on how to choose a new roof for your home.  There are several things you should consider before you make a decision on which type of roof to install.  There are many different types, materials, and several styles from which you can choose.  Style is important but you must also consider the installation requirements, cost of the product, and the company you hire to do the work.  You may want to look into the benefits of asphalt vs. wood… or consider composite shingles, slate clay tiles, or even a concrete roof.  Let’s look at some basic information to help you make a selection.


In the roofing business, roofers don’t use “square feet” like they do in the carpet business.  Roofers use the word “squares” to break down the measurement.  What is a square?  One square equals 100 square feet in area.  Take a typical two-story house (2,000 square feet) and the result will usually be around 1,500 square feet of roofing.  Divide that by 100 and you have 15 squares… which is what you will tell the roofing contractor when you call about a quote for your job.  From this information, the roofer can determine the cost per square and give you a quote.

How about the cost?

The biggest question is always cost.  It’s hard to determine the cost of a roof without knowing some basic information about the house and what style is important to the customer.  The starting cost point will always be the price of the materials.  There may be other factors such as the existing condition of your roof, if the old roof must be stripped off, if supporting beams need replacement, or if there is any water damage to the underlying structure.  All of these things are a factor for your new roof and must be discussed with your roofer beforehand.

Your roofs shape is also another cost factor.  A gable roof (more roofer terminology) make cost less than a roof that has multiple chimneys.  If you have additional skylights or other things on your roof, that can add to the amount of valleys and add cost to the job.


Depending on your roof, not every material can be used.  You may have a flat roof which will demand a different surface than one with a high slope.  Some materials are very heavy…like slate… and that will factor into the job.  Your home must be able to bear the weight of the roof.  It is very impotent to talk with your roofer and get all of these questions answered.  At Sullivan Roofs, we always discuss all of these elements with our customers before the job starts.

Let’s take a look at some of the materials used in roofing:

Wood.  Wood is a great option for your roof.  Be careful, some cities have fire codes that prevent you from installing a wood roof.  A good wood to use is cedar or redwood and these type roofs have a life of 25 years.  The biggest thing is the cost… wood roofs cost much more than asphalt shingles.  

Asphalt Shingle.  This is the least expensive option and the one most people use.  You see this type of roof almost everywhere.  It requires the least amount of skill to install and many homeowners choose to install this type themselves…which can be a BIG mistake.   The shinglers are made of fiberglass with asphalt and it has a grainy look and feel.  The most standard way it is sold is single thickness but you can also choose the heavier laminated shingles…although they are more expensive.  The life of this type of roof is 15 to 20 years for single thickness and 30 years for the thicker shingles.  (Maybe even longer!)  The cost of this starts at about $50 a square (remember the square?) and go up from there.  Sullivan Roofs has the best price is North Mississippi for shingle roofs.  (A little self advertising… thank you.)

Slate.  Slate is the heaviest and most durable roof material in my opinion.  They dig slate from quarries up North and it is made into roofing materials.   A good slate roof, like you se on some historic homes, can last well over a hundred years.  But slate is expensive— prices start at about $800 a square.  If you can afford slate it is the best option because it will last forever and it looks very nice.

Metal.  Many tupes of metal are used: Aluminum, steel, copper, copper-and-asphalt, and lead are all durable—and expensive—roofing surfaces.  Copper shingles can be installed but some lead roofs are made of long vertical panels that are soldered together.  This is a great option for a durable roof but the cost is higher, about $250 per square, and can often be much higher than that.

Tile and Cement.  Think Spanish Colonies or Southern California Missions and you have the right image.  I’ve never been a big fan of these types of roofs only because they are expensive and very heavy.  Besides… in the area I work, I have only been asked about this style a couple of times.  This can be one of the most expensive types of roofs and that is why most homeowners go with another type of material.

What should I use?

Your existing house will determine your choice.  Your smartest option is to go with the roof style that was built on your house originally.  If you are building a new home, you should think about the style of roof before you build.  If you have a smart contractor, he/she will ask you about this at some point.  (Hopefully, the contractor won’t wait until the last minute and say, “So, what kind of roof ya want?”  If he does…fire him!)

Whatever roof you choose, you will probably need flashing.  Flashing is very important.  It is metal or plastic film applied i to areas where the materials join… like your chimney.  Good flashing work is so important to keeping your house watertight, and avoiding any leaks.

For most jobs, your roofer will also apply building felt, which is rolled on the surface of the roof and remains under the shingles.  This lets the roof breath and protects the roof even more.  Remember… a happy house has a great roof.

Also remember… Sullivan Roofs has the best prices in North Mississippi.  With over 20 years in the roofing business, we can help you decide exactly what you need.  Give us a call at 662-426-1234 and let’s get started!

-Brian Sullivan

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