What Type of Roof Do I Have?

aerial view of a grey roof on a white house

Owning and maintaining a home comes with countless tasks, a never-ending list of “to-dos,” and frequent trips to your local hardware store. Knowing and understanding the basics of your home’s big-ticket items helps you maintain them. Your roof protects your home. In general, a roof needs to be replaced every 15-20 years, and with good maintenance, it will last that long. Even roofs that are “maintenance free” still need to be observed and cared for in order to get the maximum time out of your roof. Understand what type of roof covers your home before you decide what roofing material to replace it with.

Knowing what type of roof you have is the first step at maintaining it. When you know and understand it, you have a better chance at knowing what it needs and who to call if there’s a problem. Orca Roofing specializes in high-quality roofing for your home and offers a number of different types of roofing materials. Depending on what type of roof you have, we have the right material for your roof job. 

The first step in determining what type of roof you have is relatively simple. It all depends on the pitch. If you have a sloped roof you most likely have a composition, asphalt-based roof, slate tiles, cedar shingles, a metal roof or even innovative, recyclable composite roof tiles. If your roof is flat or very low-sloping, you most likely have one of a couple synthetic materials: TPO rubber, EPDM rubber, or PVC roofing. Determining if your roof is sloped at 3/12+ or flat (less than a 3/12 pitch) makes an important distinction between materials.

Composition Roofing

If your home has a sloped, pitched roof, it could either have a composition, slate or cedar-shingled roof. Most homes in the rainy Pacific Northwest don’t have terra cotta tiled roofs, but there are exceptions. Many homes have composition roofing, but not all composition roofing materials are created equal. Most roofing companies sell a “good, better, best” option, but Orca Roofing only sells and recommends the best options from Owens Corning. Composition roofing usually has a rough texture, lay flat, and come in dark colors. They are made of asphalt and other materials, and the higher the quality of the material, the longer the roof will last. Architectural composition shingles overlap in a varied, textured way imitating a natural cedar shingle look. 

Cedar Shingles

Cedar shingles are (obviously) made of cedar. On a roof they have natural visual and tactile texture. They are still a popular type of roof, but Orca Roofing doesn’t install cedar roofs for a couple different reasons. Old-growth cedar makes the best roof shingles because the wood is dense and strong. Because companies are better stewards of the earth’s natural resources, there is farmed cedar, which is better than cutting down old-growth wood, but doesn’t maintain the quality needed for a high-quality roof. Farm-grown cedar shingles are thinner, easier to break, and because of the lack of density can swell and contract on a more extreme scale. In short, a farm-raised cedar shingle roof won’t last as long as a composition roof. 

Slate Shingles

Slate is a gorgeous, but costly, material not frequently used on roofs anymore. Old, stately French manors or castles had beautiful slate roofs, but spotting a slate roof in the Seattle area would be a rare showstopper. Slate is a natural material, a bluish gray-toned stone, cut flat. It creates a natural barrier against the weather, but it also adds sheer weight to the roof load. Homes with a slate roof tend to need hefty reinforcement to withstand the weight of a slate roof. 


Thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) roofing is installed on flat roofs. It is a single-ply, synthetic water-proof membrane which is both energy efficient and heat reflective. The rubber and filler blends make it a flexible and durable roofing material. The seams are heat sealed with a seam welder. TPO roofing is preferred over PVC and EPDM, both flat-roof roofing materials, because it is more energy-efficient and doesn’t contain environmentally harmful chemicals like chlorine. We like TPO roofing for flat roofs because of its flexibility. It is tear and puncture resistant, and is able to flex if the building moves or settles. 

Composite Roof Tiles

Composite Roof Tiles, like Brava Roof Tiles, are a newer roofing material on the market. You probably don’t have this type of roofing material on your roof (yet), but these roof tiles could be a great option for your next roof replacement. These roof tiles are made from recycled materials, and are fully recyclable. They come in a variety of finishes and colors, they are light weight, unbreakable, don’t fade over time, and are virtually maintenance-free. For a new, innovative roofing material, Orca Roofing is the exclusive installer of Brava Roof Tiles in the Pacific Northwest. 

Metal Roofing

Metal roofs are incredibly versatile, and can withstand extreme temperatures, both hot and cold. They generally come in corrugated, standing seam and tiles, and they last for a very long time if well maintained. Keeping an eye out for leaks or congregating debris can ensure a longer life for your metal roof. Orca Roofing installs locally owned Nu-Ray Metals roofing.

We Can Help

When you have identified the type of roofing material on your roof, learning how to maintain that specific material and evaluating how much life is left on your roof is an important next step. Orca Roofing can come do a free estimate, and talk through our high-quality options for your next roof. We pride ourselves in the mess we don’t make with our investment in state-of-the-art tools like the Equipter 4000. We want to help secure your greatest investment with the best roof. Orca Roofing installs premier roofing materials with the highest standard of customer service. When you know what type of roofing material you have, you are one step closer to a new roof. Contact us today with questions and to schedule your free, no-obligation estimate. 

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