Serving Idaho & Washington

When it’s time to replace the roof on your home, what roofing materials do you use? Metal or Fiberglass shingle? Which brand? Organic or synthetic felt? Drip metal and starter shingle on the eaves or around the entire perimeter? It can be overwhelming to anyone who doesn’t live and breathe roofing like us. If you have a residential home that needs a new roof (particularly in Kootenai or Spokane county), then follow this guide to discover the best roofing materials you can put on your home. (That is, if your definition of “best” is about quality and ensuring you have no problems)


First I must get a few things out of the way. Unless you are on a restrictively tight budget, you need to tear off your roof (or preferably, have your contractor do it). The reasons are many, which I will get into another time, but it’s very important for the longevity of your new roof.

After tear off, a thorough wood deck inspection must be done. Any rotten, damaged, or weak areas in your plywood must be replaced before installing any roofing materials at all. If you have any kind of ship-lap or other wood decking that is not plywood, we highly recommend going over it with at least an OSB to give the roof a nice smooth surface and help the shingles attach better.

Best Roofing Materials For Residential Homes

As long as you make sure that gets done, then you can proceed to the roofing materials and be confident they will last as long as possible (as long as they’re installed correctly). Here’s our list of best roofing materials to put on your home (in order of importance):

Architectural Asphalt Fiberglass Shingles

Asphalt shingles are the most cost-effective and best-looking (in our opinion) roofing material on the market. Metal roofing is a close second, but there are several problems with metal roofing for a residential home so we don’t recommend it.

There are many brands, styles, and colors of asphalt shingles to choose from. While style and color are all just personal preferences, we recommend a minimum of an architectural shingle (no 3-tab!). When looking at brands the most important things to consider are the shingle warranty, the weight of the shingle, and what quality of components used in the shingle’s construction. We’ve done a lot of research into these things, which is why we use CertainTeed exclusively on the homes we reroof in Post Falls, Coeur d’Alene, and Spokane.

High-Quality Underlayments (Felt Paper)

After the existing roof is torn off (you are getting a tear off right?), the exposed wood decking must be covered up with an underlayment. There are two types that you’ll need to be installed if you live up in our area in Kootenai/Spokane County. Because we get a lot of snow and have pretty harsh winters (usually), your roof is required to have ice shield around the eaves. This will prevent ice dams from letting water into your home and destroying your ceilings in the winter.

The second type of underlayment is the “normal” felt paper that is put on the rest of the home. For this, we highly recommend (and use exclusively) synthetic underlayments. These are tougher and last much longer than traditional organic felt paper and will protect your home much better during installation and as a backup during the life of the roof.

When it comes to ice & water shield and synthetic underlayments there are different brands and qualities of both. You can get cheap stuff that will pass code and barely skate by, or you can use a higher quality that will protect your home guaranteed. We only use the high-quality versions because it’s worth paying a little more for the extra protection you’ll get and the peace of mind that comes with it. Here’s more information on the best underlayments (felt paper) for your home.

Best Flashings For Your Roof

Technically the word flashings include just about any metal that is on your roof. There are 6 types of flashings that you’ll need to be paying attention to. They are:

  • pipe flashings
  • valley metal
  • drip metal
  • step flashings
  • apron flashing
  • counter-flashing

Basically your flashings protect anywhere there is a hole in your roof (pipes coming through), an edge (where your gutters & fascia board are), and where your roof meets a wall. I invite you to learn more about the best flashings to use on your roof here where I go into much more detail on each type, what they protect, and how to know you’re getting the best quality.

The Best Ventilation For Your Home

Ventilation is one of the most important parts to get right in your roof system. Without adequate ventilation your home will be opened up to all sorts of problems. Things like:

  • Shingles failing early
  • Voiding your roof warranty
  • Plywood failing early
  • Making it harder to cool down your home in the summer
  • Mold growing in your attic

Having enough ventilation in the right place can prevent all these problems from happening.

The best roof ventilation for most residential homes is a concealed ridge vent. This will usually double the amount of ventilation you’ll get from putting a bunch of “cans” or roof louvers across the peak of your home. Plus it will look much better without all those eye sores up there.

If you must use roof louvers or can, due to cost or home type (if your home has a hip roof there may not be enough peak to use ridgevent), then it’s very important that you get metal roof vents installed, NOT plastic. Plastic is cheaper and a lot of roofers use them to skim some profit off the top, but it will fail early and can let a lot of water into your home.

We’ve seen many plastic vents that have small cracks in them where the water runs down and hits them. This made the crack almost un-noticeable (most inspectors would even miss it), and the water then just pours into the home and cause problems.

How To Pick The Best Roofing Materials For Your Home

When it comes to picking out the best roofing materials for your home you can do it one of 2 ways.

1.) You can do a ton of research and pick out all the products you want to be installed on your home, then find a contractor that offers very similar items or will do exactly what you tell them (which can be dangerous because their crews may not be used to doing things how you want, and may cut corners or make mistakes)

2.) The second way is to find a reputable contractor in your area that you can trust and who knows what they are talking about. Let them do most of the footwork (since they live and breathe this stuff) and take their recommendations on products to use on your roof. As long as you find a trustworthy company that sticks to its work you should be able to be confident in its choices.

If you are looking for a roofer in Post Falls, Coeur d’Alene, or Spokane, we’d be happy to help you out. Give us a call at (208) 487-6617 and we’ll answer any questions you have about your roof.