Whether you are building from scratch or choosing a new roof for your existing home, a wide range of materials are readily available and worthy of consideration. These include asphalt, wood, and composite shingles, as well as slate, concrete, and clay tiles. Style is an important factor, but it’s not the only one. Product cost, material weight, and installation requirements should also influence your selection. Here’s what you need to know:

The Square
Before we talk materials, let’s talk terminology. Roofers don’t usually use the measure “square feet.” Instead, they talk in squares. A square is their basic unit of measurement—one square is 100 square feet in area, the equivalent of a 10-foot by 10-foot square. The roof of a typical two-story, 2,000-square-foot house with a gable roof will consist of less than 1,500 square feet of roofing area, or about fifteen squares.