With catastrophic wildfires becoming more frequent and damaging every year, more and more homeowners are taking steps to protect their homes and property from fires. Homeowners who live in high fire risk areas should be especially well prepared.

There are many simple ways you can make your home more fire-resistant, such as removing dry foliage in your yard and keeping your gutters free of dead leaves. However, a truly fire-resistant home must be made of fire-resistant materials, and ideally, your home's roof should be made of thoroughly fire-resistant material. A flammable roof can quickly catch fire, even during a smaller wildfire. As well as contributing to the strength of the blaze, a burning roof may collapse, destroying everything (and everyone) inside your home.

If you live in an area with a high risk of wildfires, replacing your flammable roof with one made of fire-resistant materials can give your home a much better chance of surviving the next fire to pass through your neighborhood. Here are three commonly used roofing materials that are ideal for homes in high fire risk areas:

Clay tiles

Clay tiles have been used as a roofing material for hundreds of years, but they still have advantages over many modern materials, and one key advantage is their excellent resistance to fire. It is virtually impossible for a clay tile to catch fire, even when exposed to extremely high temperatures. The natural thermal conductivity of clay also allows clay tiles to effectively dissipate heat before it can cause wooden roof timbers and other flammable, internal components of your home to catch fire.

There are also other advantages to choosing clay tiles for a fire-resistant roof. They afford excellent heat insulation for your home during both summer and winter, and are heavy enough to resist being blown off your roof by high winds. Clay tiles also have style as well as substance, and a professionally fitted clay tile roof can look very attractive, particularly when fitted to a home with traditional and/or colonial styling. 

Metal shingles

Metal roofing is another excellent option if you want to beef up fire protection on your property, and both steel and aluminum roofing types are excellent for homes in high fire risk areas. A properly fitted metal roof will never catch fire, and also provides excellent protection against impact damage -- perfect if your home is overlooked by tall trees or buildings which may shed debris during an intense wildfire.

However, the galvanized steel roofing sheets used on many commercial and industrial buildings can look very drab and utilitarian, and they usually aren't appropriate for residential homes. Metal shingles are a much more attractive option and are available in a wide variety of shapes, colors, and styles. Many residential roofer specialists offer specially painted metal shingles that closely mimic the look of clay or stone tiles.

Fiber cement shingles

Fiber cement consists of ordinary cement which has been specially strengthened with organic fibers, and fiber cement shingles are an excellent roofing material for any fire-resistant home. They retain the exceptional fire resistance of ordinary cement but provide significantly more impact resistance. They are also relatively inexpensive, and while ordinary fiber cement shingles aren't particularly attractive, convincing wood-effect shingles are available.

If you do opt for fiber cement shingles for your home, you should make sure they are fitted with a fire-resistant underlayment, usually made out of gypsum board. Many cheaper and DIY fiber cement roofs use flammable underlayments which completely undermine the fire resistance of the shingles themselves, so having your fiber cement roof fitted by reputable professionals is always important.