5 Best Roof Types for California Homes


Choosing the proper roof material for your home requires a good deal of consideration. In California, the decision requires more thought than many other places because of the requirements of Title 24. In addition to fire code ratings, Title 24 mandates specific reflective requirements for roofing materials which will result in better solar reflectance and thermal emittance. The goal of this legislation is to reduce the electrical load on California’s power grid by making homes more energy efficient. Having a “Cool Roof” will also help your AC system perform better and last longer. It is a win/win for the state and the consumer.

1. Synthetic Cedar Shake

Cedar shakes have been a popular roofing material for years and over time, their popularity has expanded across the nation. It’s easy to understand. They are naturally beautiful, lightweight, relatively easy to install and complement almost any exterior. California homes were quick to adopt the use of cedar shakes and their use was widespread until the 1992 fires that devastated a large section of Oakland. After that, the use of wood shakes fell under strict guidelines, making their use prohibitive.

The popularity of cedar shakes continues to grow and Brava Roof Tiles satisfies the desire for the look of cedar with a synthetic composite roof tile that provides all of the beauty of a cedar shake roof without the negative aspects. For instance:

  • Brava Roof tiles carry a Class C and a Class A Fire rating.
  • They are molded from actual cedar shakes so they perfectly mimic their appearance.
  • They are manufactured in 3 different widths for easy installation.
  • The thickness varies to give that natural hand-split look.
  • Installation requires no special tools.
  • There is almost zero maintenance required.

2. Synthetic Slate

Slate roofing is typically found on homes of distinction because of its intrinsic beauty, outstanding durability, and immediate curb appeal. As with other natural products, slate adds a sense of stylish earthiness to the home it is installed on. Parts of California have always been known for their opulent homes and slate was the perfect roof material for those homeowners who had a budget for it. However, slate roofs present real problems for today’s homeowner. In addition to the cost factor, slate is extremely heavy, and normal roof construction will not support a slate roof without additional engineering. This can easily add thousands of dollars to the price of a home. Slate roofing is not easy to install. The tiles are brittle and they have to be handled carefully to avoid breakage. Roofing contractors that specialize in slate will have the equipment necessary to safely maneuver on the roof during installation and avoid costly errors that can come from inexperience with the product. This special expertise means slate is one of the most expensive roofing materials to install. There is an alternative to natural slate that maintains the beauty of hewn stone while drastically reducing the cost of installation, the need for additional supporting structure, and special handling requirements. Brava synthetic Old World Slate roof tiles weigh half as much as regular slate and can be installed by most professional roofing contractors without requiring special tools. The roof can be walked on without breaking the tiles and there is little maintenance required. Brava’s synthetic slate tiles are the only tile on the market available in multi colors and they come with a 50-year limited warranty.

3. Composite Spanish Tiles

The distinctive look of a Mediterranean home is provided by the clay barrel tile on the roof. Spanish architecture has long been identified by this one design element more than any other. California architecture frequently used clay barrel tiles because they were fire resistant and helped to radiate the heat absorbed during the day back to the atmosphere, rather than transfer it to the house below. The original tiles were made from kiln-fired clay that was abundant in the area. Clay was inexpensive to obtain, but the process to produce the roof tiles was all done by hand. That added to the cost and to the time it took to manufacture the final product. Clay, like slate, has some significant drawbacks. Though beautiful, it is heavy and difficult to install. Roofing specialists familiar with clay tiles are required for installation and maintenance in order to get a watertight roof with minimal damage.

4. Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt Shingles


Asphalt shingles still cover the majority of homes in America and the reason is cost. Initially produced in the early 1900s, asphalt-based roof shingles have dominated the residential construction market since then. The advantages of asphalt composite shingles are:

  • Relatively inexpensive
  • Easy to produce
  • Readily available in most lumberyards and big box retailers
  • Can be installed by most DIYers

However, there are issues that have to be discussed:

  • They tear easily.
  • The granule covering eventually falls off exposing the fiberglass mat to the Sun’s UV rays.
  • Can be torn from the roof with strong winds.
  • They absorb the Sun’s heat instead of radiating it.
  • Develop algae growth easier than other shingle options.
  • May not last as long as the warranty.

A new shingle has been developed that looks like an asphalt shingle, and installs the same way but has a longer warranty and is a polymer composite rather than asphalt based. This new blend will perform better than standard shingles but still looks like a regular shingle, so there is little aesthetic advantage over less expensive materials. Synthetic composite roof tiles such as those offered by Brava, provide a 50-year warranty and the look of natural cedar, slate or clay tiles. They require no maintenance, are resistant to mold and mildew, and add curb appeal above that of any flat shingle.

5. Metal Roofing

Metal Roofing


Metal roofing is often seen as a viable alternative to synthetic roof tiles, and in some respects, they compare favorably:

  • They are both durable.
  • Installation is simple.
  • Metal and composites both offer excellent fire protection.

What are the disadvantages of metal roofing?

  • Metal roofing is noisy.
  • It is much more susceptible to denting than a synthetic roof tile.
  • It is thin and offers no insulation value.
  • It is expensive. Standard metal roofing can cost twice as much as asphalt shingles, but specialty designs such as metal shakes can cost 3-5 times as much to install.

Brava Synthetic Roof Tiles Provide Beauty And Durability

Our synthetic composite roof tiles are available in 3 different designs: Old World Slate, Cedar Shake and Spanish Barrel Tile. All three can be manufactured in custom solid colors as well as multi-color options. Brava is the only company to offer a “Cool Roof” white Spanish barrel tile that meets California’s Title 24 requirements. We ship worldwide and our roof tile samples are free. Contact us today for expert advice on providing the best composite roofing material for your project!