What are the Best Materials for a Porch Roof?

Melissa King

When building or making improvements to a house, particular attention is often paid to the construction of the porch roof. The appearance of the roof is usually a concern, as well as the amount of protection it can offer against extreme temperatures, rain, or snow. Many types of building material may be adequate for a porch roof, but some may be better suited for specific climates. Among the materials that may be considered include wooden shingles and shakes, asphalt shingles, thatch, metal, slate, and ceramics.

Asphalt shingles are inexpensive, and may be guaranteed for up to 30 years.
Asphalt shingles are inexpensive, and may be guaranteed for up to 30 years.

Wooden shingles and shakes are often valued as porch roof materials because of their appearance. Several types of wood can be used for making shingles or shakes, including wood from the Eastern White Cedar, Western Red Cedar, and Alaskan Yellow Cedar. Shingles and shakes differ from one another in their thickness. Shingles are cut to a uniform size and are traditionally smooth, whereas shakes are split from logs, making them thicker and a bit more uneven. This type of material is usually expensive to install, and may not be allowed in some areas due to fire codes.

Ceramic porch roof tiles are popular in the Mediterranean.
Ceramic porch roof tiles are popular in the Mediterranean.

Asphalt shingles are possibly the most common kind of porch roof material. This is also considered one of most inexpensive roofing materials. Additionally, the quality of most asphalt shingles may be guaranteed for up to 30 years. This type of shingle can be purchased in a wide variety of colors and is available in either a three-tab or architectural design. Three-tab shingles are usually very flat; architectural shingles are made to appear thicker.

Galvanized metal sheets can be used to make a porch roof.
Galvanized metal sheets can be used to make a porch roof.

Thatch porch roofs are often used in warmer or tropical climates, although there are also many thatch roofs in colder areas. This type of roof is usually made from local vegetation, which might include water reed, heather, or straw. When properly built, a thatch porch roof may last up to 50 years, and has good wind and water resistance. It also has natural insulation properties, keeping homes warm in winter and cooler in the summer. Due to the intensive labor involved in building them, thatch roofs can be very expensive. It can also be difficult to put out a fire on a thatch roof.

Architectural shingles are thicker than three-tab shingles.
Architectural shingles are thicker than three-tab shingles.

Metal porch roofs are typically inexpensive and very weather resistant. They may be especially installed in areas that receive a lot of snowfall. Galvanized metal sheets are possibly the cheapest possible material, whereas copper is a more expensive choice for a metal roof that is often valued for its appearance. A properly installed metal roof can last approximately 50 years.

Slate is snow and ice resistant and considered very attractive, but it is also usually expensive. Slate shingles are heavy; because of this and their cost, they are seldom used in porch roofs today. Engineered, synthetic slate — often made of recycled rubber or plastic — can be substituted.

Ceramic tile porch roofs are most commonly found in the Mediterranean. The process of making and installing ceramic tiles is very time consuming, so the cost of such a roof is likely to be high. Quality tiles must be used to ensure that no cracks appear, which would cause the tiles to absorb moisture and shatter during a freeze. Although these materials are expensive, ceramic tile roofs, if installed correctly, can last between 60 and 80 years.

Thatched roofs are resistant to water and wind, but very labor intensive.
Thatched roofs are resistant to water and wind, but very labor intensive.

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Discussion Comments


@mobilian33 - I agree with you about the tin roofs being good for listening to rain showers, but most people today don't remember the traditional tin roofs. However, you should pay attention to what the article says about the new metal roofs.

They are long lasting, and they have the look of the traditional tin without the rust. The new metals roofs come in a variety of great colors, but they are quieter than the old tin, so you probably won't hear the relaxing beat of the rain drops like you mentioned. I think they are a good choice for a porch roof or for the entire house.


When I think of tin roofs I associate them with rust. I can remember going to visit my great grandmother in the country when I was younger. So many of the old houses we drove past had tin roofs on them, and they were rusted, or at least partially rusted.

This is not the most attractive sight on a house. I can't imagine anyone would want to buy one of those houses with the roof in that condition.For this reason, I think tin roofs are not a good idea if you are planning to sell your home at any point in the future. A traditional asphalt shingle would be a much more attractive roofing material I think.


I know they are out of date, and most people don't want them, but I still like tin roofs in place of roof tiles. Even if you don't want tin on the entire roof of your house you can still use it only on the porch, especially if it is a flat porch roof because the different look won't be as noticeable with a flat roof.

What I like about the tin is it will last for a long time, and I love the sound the tin makes when rain drops fall on it. I can still remember sitting on our back porch when I was a kid and listening to the rain drops. There is nothing more relaxing than that.

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