A roof is the workhorse of a house, but it fails to often get the respect it warrants. It’s usually an afterthought to the beauty of an illuminated kitchen or a luxurious bedroom, quietly shielding these spaces from the outside world. In fact, it’s only when a roof fails to provide sufficient shelter—like, say, when it leaks—that this vital detail transitions into a high priority on a homeowner’s list.

“A roof is one of the most important investments a property owner ever makes—it’s literally what protects everything and everyone inside a house,” says Elizabeth Moody, the senior merchant for roofing at The Home Depot.

Available roofing materials have broadened in the last few years, so choosing the right one can easily be overwhelming. Moody suggests going into the process as an informed client, which is why we asked her to describe how to choose the type that’s right for your home. And since you might need assistance on when exactly to replace a roof and its proper installation, Moody also shares tips on these topics, too. Read on to get her insights, and you’ll start appreciating this workhorse more.

How to Choose The Right Roofing Material

As more homeowners have discovered to embrace the merits of curb appeal, roofs can easily be one way to achieve that goal on a broad scale. Most addresses have steep roofs, Moody says, so their look is more noticeable to passersby. “The roof is like a home’s window dressing,” she says. “It can easily really make a statement on the house.”