Saying the word "Colonial home" often brings to mind a large, somewhat Spartan structure with minimal ornamentation but plenty of interior living space. But there are a variety of different Colonial-style homes that vary in ornamentation, layout, and roof style. The differences can help you determine the best – and worst – roofing materials for your particular home's style.

Here are two of the most common types of Colonial homes in the United States and the best and worst roofing choices for each type. Discuss your home style and roofing options in further detail with your roofing contractors.

New England Colonial

New England Colonials are one of the oldest architectural styles in the United States since the style was popularized by British colonists. As the name suggests, this style of Colonial is mostly found in the New England region. The defining features include a wide rectangular shape with a protruding second story, symmetrical windows with diamond shapes on the windowpanes, and a large saltbox roof with a protruding wide chimney.

A saltbox roof has a shorter, lower-sloped front that rises to a peak then gives way to a longer, steeper rear side. The asymmetry means you can use affordable asphalt shingles as your primary roofing material if the rear, steep side of the roof doesn't take on a lot of direct wind. Wind and asphalt don't get along due to the lightweight nature of the shingles, which can become loosened or damaged under high wind conditions.

You could also use wooden shingles as the roofing on the New England Colonial. The natural look and textured thickness pairs well with the home's siding, which is typically either wood clapboard or masonry.

Avoid slate, as it is more opulent than the house's nature, or metal roofing. Metal roofing works well on houses that need drainage help but the saltbox is naturally good at drainage and the metal looks too industrial on this style of house.

Dutch Colonial

Dutch Colonial homes started in the New York area where Dutch colonists settled but revival styles popped up all over the country. The Dutch Colonial still has a bit of a rectangular shape but is not quite as boxy as the New England Colonial. The Dutch home can have stone or brick siding, decorative structural elements including turrets or dormers, and either two chimneys or one large wishbone-shaped chimney emerging from the gambrel roof.

Gambrel roofs are the shape most commonly seen on barns. The roof has two main sides but each side has a shorter, nearly vertical segment and a longer, low-sloped upper segment. The shape again means that asphalt shingles shouldn't have a problem with potential wind damage if you need to save money.

Wood roofing would work well on many Dutch Colonials particularly if the siding is made of masonry. The natural warmth of brick and wood make for a good pairing. Slate roofing can also work with masonry siding since the stone tiles can be arranged in a similar pattern to the brickwork.

You want to avoid metal roofing for the Dutch Colonial since the roof can drain well already and the industrial natural doesn't look right on this house style. For more information, contact a roofing repair and installation company.