Prime Edmonton Real Estate - The roof system is one of those parts of a home that is often overlooked. With the warming weather, the snow will be melting off of the tops of your homes to reveal one of the first, and most important, defenses from the elements. Shingles take the brunt of all types of precipitation, blocking it from enter the structural elements of the home while pushing it down into the drainage areas. A lot has changed over the past few years in the types and materials used in both the top and supporting layers.
Today's roofs have many different materials on the top. Fifty years ago there were primarily 4 types of roofing material; asphalt shingles (what the majority of people still have today), metal channel roofing, wooden shake shingles, or tar and gravel systems for flat or extremely low sloped roofs. Underneath these top layers were also a tar paper or a tar membrane, depending on the type of top layer you had.
Today, these materials have expanded out quite a bit. All of the above mentioned materials are still used, but are engineered in a different fashion. Gone are the old style three tab asphalt shingles, and in their place are architectual multi tab shingles, which prevent curling and last up to 50% longer than the traditional three tabs while costing almost the same. There has also been some innovations in metal roofing - with some companies specializing in metal interlocking shingles - which is said to have the durability of metal (up to 75 years) with the looking of a more traditional asphalt tab shingle. There is also rubber and recycled rubber shingles, which when installed give a lot more textured look to the roof while promising a longer lasting product.
There is now also a synthetic wrap (similar to the house wrap that you see going on the exterior walls of a home) that has replaced the tar paper as the extra layer of coverage. In fact, these synthetic wraps are so good that my roofer told me it usually makes a roof more water tight on its own that most older homes shingles and tar paper combined! You should also expect to have metal flashing and/or what's called a 'drip edge' to help frame out and support the other materials in the high volume areas. The pitch and style of your roof may also dictate other types of materials needed.
As someone who has had a leaky roof in the past, I can tell you firsthand how important for peace of mind having a good, water tight roof system is. It's your first and best defence against water entering the home!