Your roof is your home's primary defense against the wind and rain, and when you live in a hurricane zone, it really takes a beating. For this reason, when you're building a new home, it is essential to make sure you choose a roof that will stand up to the elements. There are two major things to consider—the shape or design of your roof and the roofing material. Here's a look at your best options in both categories.

Roofing Shapes and Designs for Hurricane Zones

Work with your architect to ensure that your overall home design allows for these roofing design features, which will ensure your roof can stand up to strong winds and driving rain.

Multiple slopes

Researchers have found that roofs with multiple slopes are less likely to suffer wind damage than those with only two slopes. For example, a hip roof (which has four slopes) performs better than a gable roof (which has two slopes). Also keep in mind the roof slope. A roof slope of 30 degrees is your best bet.

Limited overhangs

Wind can easily catch under an overhang and then end up tearing the roof off a home. For this reason, experts recommend limiting roof overhangs to 20 inches. If you can bear to go shorter, it's not a bad idea.

Hurricane straps

These are straps that are used to attach the roof to the load-bearing walls of your home. A common mistake is to attach them to non- load-bearing walls. This actually makes severe roofing damage more likely. Make sure your architect includes hurricane straps in your design and that he or she plans to attach them to load-bearing walls.

Roofing Materials for Hurricane Zones

Standard, asphalt shingles are not typically a good choice in hurricane zones since they're blown off so easily. To ensure your roof lasts, consider these better options:

Concrete tile roofing

Concrete tiles interlock, which makes them a very secure choice. They are heavy enough and secure enough that they won't blow off, even in high winds. Concrete tiles are sometimes cracked in the case of heavy hail, but replacing the damaged tiles is rather straightforward. Concrete tiles come in a wide array of colors and patterns. You can even find ones that are made to look like wood shakes or Mediterranean clay tiles. Concrete tiles are often more costly than the other materials on this list, but they also have the longest life span—you can expect them to last at least 50 years.

Aluminum roofing

Galvanized metal roofing is not a great choice in hurricane zones, since the salty air and rain can cause corrosion. Thankfully, there's another metal roofing material: aluminum. Aluminum is naturally corrosion-resistant, so you don't have to worry about frequent exposure to water (even salty coastal water) destroying it prematurely. As an added bonus, aluminum roofing reflects light and will reduce your cooling costs in the summertime. You can expect this type of roof to last about 35 years.

Windproof specialty shingles

Some shingle companies have been expanding their markets into hurricane zones by manufacturing specialty shingles that do a better job of standing up to heavy rain and high winds. These shingles are made from a fiberglass material that is less flexible than the wood pulp base used to make standard asphalt shingles. They are also fitted with a special adhesive that helps keep them from blowing off. While these specialty shingles work well for most homeowners, they have to be installed properly in order for them to function as intended. Less experienced roofers sometimes use too few nails or fail to adhere the shingles properly. If you are considering this option, make sure you work with a roofing company that has a long track record of success.

If you choose the right roof for your home, you won't have to panic every time a storm rolls in. Contact a company like Davis Bros Roofing to learn more or to set up an appointment for your roof to be installed.