One of the most common questions our Bay Area commercial roofing professionals get is “What material is right for my project?”

Depending on your needs, style, budget, and other dynamics, you can choose from literally dozens of categories of material, including stone, thatch, slate, sod, concrete, fiberglass, plastic, and other composite materials. This article will give you the low down on a few of the most common choices. Give consideration to calling an Oakland roofing contractor, like Ben’s Roofing or another company you trust, before committing thousands of dollars on a particular type of material or construction schema.

Residential Roofing

Composition Shingles

Shingles are made from asphalt, fiberglass, or recycled composite materials. They are highly versatile. They offer good fire protection (Class A), and they can often be outfitted over an old roof. On the downside, composition shingles can be ripped off by gusty weather (common up here in the Bay Area), and extreme heat can scar them. Plus, some people complain about their drab aesthetic compared to other choices.

Wood Shakes

For a natural aesthetic, you may want to opt for wood shakes, which also can be outfitted for a diverse variety of construction projects. Wood shakes have a lot of personality. They’re also very good for insulation and allowing clean air to cycle into the building.

Unfortunately, wood shakes are also made of bio-degradable material, so they need to be maintained more vigilantly. They are also more subject to fire risks (even if you use fire retardants) and rot and insects and etc. Different shake mills produce products of very different quality, so make sure to choose the right mill for your project.


The Southwestern/Mexican influence has stimulated an resurgence of interest in clay roofing tiles. Unlike wood shakes, clay cannot be burned, rotted or destroyed by insects. Clay is also durable. That said, these tiles are fragile, heavy, and more costly other materials. The beautiful bright red and orange colors can also fade over time, and installation can be tricky.


Concrete is a lighter weight, cost-effective choice. Like clay, concrete is impervious to rot and insects, and it’s highly fire proof. You can also “play around with” concrete by coating it with enamels or other metals and adapting it aesthetically for your building’s design.

For help picking up the right material for your budget, needs and aesthetic preferences, get in touch with the team here at Ben’s Roofing for a free estimate. We’d love to talk about your project and give you good strategic suggestions.