Best Roof Types & Styles for California Homes

Best Roof Types Styles for California Homes 7

California is a place with unique weather and unique homes to match. The shapes and sizes of homes vary throughout the state, as do the materials that cover them. As a result, it can be a bit difficult to know what to choose when redoing your roof or constructing a new home.

Here’s your guide to the best roof types in California, including the roofing materials you should use.

What Are the Best Roof Types in California?

Every state is known for using specific styles of architecture. Fortunately, Californians have many different roof styles to choose from, which include:


Mediterranean-style roofs traditionally use symmetry, with low-pitched slopes and broad overhanging eaves. Modern Mediterranean-style roofs combine different rooflines to make a more unique appearance, which can mean combining a gable roof with a mansard roof.

Spanish Revival

Spanish revival differs from the Mediterranean style in a few ways, though it also has many similarities. They often have low-pitched hipped roofs, though they may also have flat roof parapets. Spanish Revival roofs also have asymmetrical facades. The roof tiles, usually Roman or Mission-style tiles, are laid irregularly.

California Farmhouse

California farmhouses are simple in design, with rectangular floor plans and clean rooflines. The roofs are high-pitched with gabled, hipped, or shed combinations.

Mid-Century Modern

Mid-century modern homes are characterized by their clean lines and organic, streamlined forms that lack the embellishments in other styles. Flat roofs are common with mid-century homes, but you can also find low-sloping A-framed roofs.


Like mid-century modern, contemporary homes use unconventional materials to focus on clean lines and rounded spaces. These roofs often are flat or angular, making a dramatic appearance. They also have deep, open roof overhangs that double as awnings.


Unlike many other styles found in California, Tudor-style homes feature steeply pitched roofs with one or more front-facing gables and dormers. They also have more elaborate forms and decorative features.


The Craftsman style is known for its simplicity; the roof is typically low-pitched with projecting eaves. Gables and formers are also on the roof, typically accented with decorative trim. Features like the rafters, roof brackets, ridge beams, eaves, and purlins are painted a contrasting color to make them more of a design element. You may also find a shed roof casing the front board former, creating a room on the upper level.


Ranch houses also have low-pitched roofs. Most commonly, they are a hipped gable shape but can also be a cross-gable or side-gable with overhanging eaves.

What Makes a Roof Type Good for California

When considering the best roof types for your home in California, you need to consider the weather in your area, as well as the styles in the area.

While you don't have to follow the trends, you may not want to stand out completely.

California is often associated with heat and droughts, but this is not the only type of weather they receive. Southern California has a more Mediterranean climate, with rainy winters and dry, hot summers. This makes options like flat roofs and low-sloped styles excellent options. While a flat roof would need sufficient drainage, a low-pitched roof would allow rain to roll right off.

Central California remains hot and dry during the summers and rainier, foggy winters. In some areas, flat and low-pitched roof types are still viable options. As you get to the Sierra Nevada,

Cascade Range, and Klamath Mountains, the summers become milder and winters cooler, with snow instead of rain. This makes higher-pitched roofs better, as they will minimize the amount of snow on roofs.

Northern California sees more rainfall than other parts of the state. Winters tend to be damp and mild, while the summers remain relatively hot and dry, though it remains a few degrees cooler than Southern areas. This makes flat and low-pitched roofs ideal options.

Best Roofing Materials In California

Generally, while most of California favors the same materials, the order changes depending on where you are. Here is a breakdown of the best roofing materials in California:

1. Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are an affordable, easy-to-install material. They consist of a fiberglass mat doused in asphalt and coated in granules in various colors. There is the regular, cheaper 3-tap variety and a more expensive, higher-quality architectural asphalt shingle. They offer a decent lifespan, though not as good as other materials. Asphalt shingles are also more prone to cracking with temperature fluctuations and high heat, like what you find in Southern parts of the state.

2. Metal Roofing

While, historically, metal roofs were primarily used on industrial buildings, today's homeowners are also opting for metal roofs. They are available in recycled copper, aluminum, and stainless steel and can be made to resemble wood shingles or shakes, slate, clay tile, and other expensive materials.

Metal is a long-lasting, lightweight, and highly durable option resistant to fire and high temperatures. It is also an energy-efficient option due to its reflectiveness, helping homeowners save on energy bills. On the downside, it is expensive, can be prohibited by HOAs, isn't ideal for coastal homes as it will rust, and is noisy when it rains, which not everyone finds comforting.

3. Wood Shingles/Shakes

High-quality woods like cedar, redwood, and southern pine are popular materials for wood shakes and shingles. While machine-made varieties are smoother, hand-split options have a rougher, more rustic appearance.

While beautiful, it is an expensive option banned in California areas due to its flammability despite there being treatments that offer fire resistance. It is also susceptible to mold and rot without the proper treatments

4. Clay Tile

Clay is more eco-friendly than concrete and can last over 100 years. It is a beautiful option for Mediterranean and Spanish-style homes, offering a unique, authentic European look. They are also highly durable and fire-resistant, though they are unsafe to walk on.

Unfortunately, clay is extremely expensive and heavy; roofs must be designed to support that weight or reinforced to ensure they don't collapse.

5. Slate Roofing

Slate comes in many different colors due to the chemical and mineral makeup of the material, making it easy to have a beautiful, unique roof. This combination also affects the material's response to weather, creating a weathered look. Like clay, it is extremely durable to the elements and has an equally long lifespan.

It is also heavy, like clay, meaning the roof decking must be reinforced to support the weight of the material. Slate is also very expensive to buy and install.

Best Roofing Material for Central California

1. Asphalt

Affordability plays a significant role in the popularity of asphalt shingles. Central California's climate is perfect for this option and properly installed, high-quality asphalt shingles can last up to 30 years.

You can still expect them to degrade over time, and while durable, they will not withstand high winds. And they aren't an environmentally friendly option.

2. Tile Roofing

While expensive, tile roofs offer a long lifespan and extreme durability, withstanding strong winds, fire, heat, and rain. They also offer a beautiful Mediterranean and Spanish-style appearance that can enhance any home.

You need to remember the weight of the material as, without the proper support, your roof can sag or collapse. Cost is another significant issue.

3. Metal Roofs

Metal roofs reflect heat, helping keep homes cooler and providing an energy-efficient roof solution. It is also fire and rain-resistant. While it is lightweight, it is also expensive and not necessarily easy to install.

4. Wood Shakes/Singles

Wood shakes and shingles are natural options that can be treated for fire and water resistance, though some areas will still not allow them. They provide a beautiful, rustic look, perfect for areas close to the mountains, though you want to keep costs and maintenance requirements in mind.

Best Roofing Material for Southern California

1. Metal Roofing

As mentioned before, metal is a very durable material resistant to fire and heat, which is why many consider it the best roofing material for Southern California. If you don't like the look of metal, it can be painted to look like other materials, like cedar shakes, asphalt shingles, and more.

Remember that it is expensive and rain hitting it will be noisy, which can be bothersome to some.

2. Clay and Concrete Tiles

Clay tiles are common in California and offer durability and longevity. They also help keep homes cooler, as they don't trap heat. Their durability means that clay is resistant to earthquakes, winds, and fire.

Their weight creates installation difficulties and adds labor costs to an already expensive material.

3. Slate Roofing

Slate is a unique, highly durable material with excellent longevity. It is fire-resistant and helps lower heat absorption, making homes cooler, and the lighter the color, the more heat will be reflected.

The weight and cost are the most significant downsides; it is heavy and requires roof reinforcement to support the weight. It is also expensive, both for the material and installation.

4. Asphalt

Again, most homeowners opt for asphalt because it is affordable, fairly durable, and easy to install. Unfortunately, asphalt doesn't hold up to heat well, and the intense sun of Southern California will degrade shingles over time and need to be replaced.

Brava: The Best Roofing Materials in California

While every item on this list has benefits, they also have drawbacks: they are expensive, heavy, require maintenance, or, like wood shakes and shingles, aren't allowed everywhere.

However, there is a better option that offers beauty and durability without any of the drawbacks: Brava Roofing Tile.

Brava Roof Tile specializes in composite roofing materials made from recycled materials. These environmentally friendly, sustainable products offer an unrivaled performance and are the best alternative to traditional clay, slate, and cedar shake roofing. These tiles offer:

  • Fire Resistance: Class A and Class C

  • Impact Resistance: Class 4

  • Wind Resistant: 188 MPH with nails and 211 MPH with high wind/screw installation.

  • Lightweight: they weigh a fraction of the authentic material.

  • Fade-resistant

Cedar Shake

The synthetic cedar shake by Brava has the realistic appearance of hand-split cedar shakes, coming in different widths and thicknesses to allow for a more realistic roof layout. They come in many color variations, with 14 color options, including white and two cool roof varieties, "Cool Lake Forest," a weathered-looking gray with darker striations, and "Cool Weathered," a deep brown with hints of gray and black.

Old World Slate

Brava’s Old-world slate has the appearance of natural quarried slate without the weight. It has different widths, with 12" standard and 6", 9", and 12" multi-width slate options. It comes in 15 colors, including "Arendale," a beautiful dark gray, and "European," a darker gray with reddish hues.

Spanish Barrel Tile

Brava's Spanish barrel tiles have the warmth and beauty of traditional clay tiles without their weight. They feature the iconic barrel design and use a unique coloring system, creating an unrivaled look in the industry. With 17 color options, like "Antique Clay," a more traditional clay color, and "Mediterranean," which has hints of black, there is no shortage of possible combinations for a unique roof.

The Best of the Roof Types in California

California is a beautiful place with a climate that varies depending on where you live. This means your roofing needs can vary as well; what may be best for Southern California may not be best for the North when you look at traditional materials.

Brava offers an alternative that works everywhere, offering the best of materials like clay, slate, and cedar shakes without any of the usual drawbacks. With Brava, your home is protected from any weather that could hit California and looks beautiful.

Contact Brava today to learn more about Brava's products, request samples, and get inspired.