Choosing roofing materials, ranging from asphalt composite shingles to metal, wood shakes, and clay tiles, offers a variety of options. Instead of sticking to the familiar, explore longer-lasting and more modern roofing choices. Making the right choice involves balancing factors like appearance, durability, cost, and structure.

Kevin Brown

Choosing roofing materials, ranging from asphalt composite shingles to metal, wood shakes, and clay tiles, offers a variety of options. Instead of sticking to the familiar, explore longer-lasting and more modern roofing choices. Making the right choice involves balancing factors like appearance, durability, cost, and structure.

Choosing roofing materials, ranging from asphalt composite shingles to metal, wood shakes, and clay tiles, offers a variety of options. Instead of sticking to the familiar, explore longer-lasting and more modern roofing choices. Making the right choice involves balancing factors like appearance, durability, cost, and structure.

Note about our roof materials cost estimates: Some manufacturers sell roofing materials by the square foot or the ‘square.’ A square is equal to 100 square feet. These estimates are averages and only include material costs. Your location and specific product choice will determine the actual price.

Popular House Roofing Materials

Roofing Material
Estimated Lifespan
Asphalt Shingles 15-30 years Affordable, widely available, easy to install. Good for various architectural styles. Susceptible to wind and hail damage, color fading over time.
Metal Roofs 40-70 years Durable, fire-resistant, energy-efficient, low maintenance. Suitable for various climates. Higher upfront cost, noise in heavy rain, expansion/contraction in extreme temperatures.
Metal Shingles 30-50 years Durable, lightweight, fire-resistant. Mimic the appearance of traditional shingles or other materials. Higher upfront cost, may dent in severe weather, requires professional installation.
Wood Shingles/Shake 30 years Natural appearance, environmentally friendly, good insulation. Made from cedar, redwood, or other woods. Susceptible to rot, insects, fire. Regular maintenance needed to prevent weathering.
Slate Shingles 75-100+ years Elegant appearance, durable, fire-resistant. Resistant to insects and rot. Heavy, expensive, requires professional installation.
Clay Tiles 100+ years Long lifespan, resistant to fire, insects, rot. Excellent for hot climates. Heavy, expensive, may require additional roof support.
Concrete Tiles 50+ years Durable, fire-resistant, lower cost compared to clay. Can mimic the appearance of other materials. Heavy, may require additional roof support, can absorb moisture.
Synthetic Slate Shingles 50-100 years Lightweight, more affordable than natural slate. Resistant to rot and insects. Color may fade over time, may lack the same authenticity as natural slate.
Solar Roof Shingles 25-30 years Generate electricity, environmentally friendly. Some designs mimic traditional shingles. High upfront cost, efficiency depends on sunlight exposure, aesthetic concerns for some homeowners.
Green Roofing 30-50+ years Energy-efficient, environmentally friendly, improves insulation. Can include vegetative layers. High upfront cost, requires specialized installation, weight concerns, maintenance demands for plant health.
Membrane Roofing 7-15 years Various types available (TPO, PVC, EPDM), versatile, suitable for flat roofs. Vulnerable to punctures, may require regular maintenance, lifespan varies by type.
Built-Up Roof (BUR) 15-30 years Multiple layers provide durability, fire-resistant. Suitable for flat roofs. Heavy, labor-intensive installation, may require more maintenance compared to other materials.
Rolled Roofing 5-8 years Low cost, easy installation. Suitable for temporary roofing or sheds. Short lifespan, less durable, not suitable for residential roofing.
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Asphalt Shingles

Cost: $1 – $5 per square foot

Asphalt shingles have a fiberglass base coated in asphalt and topped with ceramic-coated granules. They come in two varieties: basic three-tab and architectural.

They are easy to install and affordable, making them the most common roofing material in the United States. You can get them in various colors like gray, black, brown, red, and tan.

Metal Roofs:

– Cost: $8 – $21 per square foot

The most common metal roof is the standing seam, which consists of large sheets of aluminum, zinc, or steel that interlock, creating a seamless look.

Metal roofs have high durability and can withstand wind, hail, and the sun’s UV rays. You can get standing seam roofs in any color imaginable.

The average metal roof lasts about 40-70 years, exceeding the lifespan of most asphalt shingle roofs.

Metal Shingles:

– Cost: $7 to $15 per square foot

Metal shingles are aluminum or steel and feature a stone coating or mineral granules to increase longevity. They provide the durability of metal standing seam roofs but offer the textured look of shingles.

Metal shingles come in various colors and options that resemble asphalt or slate. Metal shingles can last up to 40 years, or even longer depending on the location and metal type.

Wood shingles or shakes, such as cedar, white oak, red oak, cypress, and Eastern white pine, are available. Cedar is popular due to its natural resistance to insects and rot. Wood shingles are commonly used on cottages, bungalows, Craftsman, and Tudor-style homes.

There are two varieties of wood shingles: hand split and resawn, or taper sawn. Hand Sawn shingles offer a rustic look, while tapersawn shingles have a streamlined appearance.

Well-maintained standard wood shingles can last up to 30 years.

Slate Shingles:

– Cost: $10-$30 per square foot.

Slate shingles are a durable and long-lasting roofing choice. Manufacturers cut slate, a natural stone, into thin rectangles or curved shingles for use as a roofing material. Slate is commonly found on luxury homes due to its high cost, and it adds texture and elegance to various house styles. However, the weight of slate requires a strong home structure to support it.

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Despite its expense, slate shingles have an impressive lifespan of over 100 years.

Clay Tiles:

– Cost: $5-$15 per square foot.

Clay tiles are a sustainable roofing option made of earthen clay molded and baked at high temperatures. This process makes clay durable and ideal for hot and coastal climates.

Clay tiles come in various shapes and are commonly found on Spanish Colonial, Mediterranean, and coastal-style houses.

Clay tile roofs can last over 100 years.

Concrete tiles, costing $4-$7.50 per square foot, are made of concrete. They offer superior performance against high winds and are resistant to rot and insect infestations.

Concrete tile roofing materials are available in designs that mimic clay tiles, asphalt shingles, or wooden shakes.

Cement tile roofing adds texture and provides secure wind-resistant roofing. However, it is porous and requires regular maintenance. Additionally, concrete roofs are heavy.

When well maintained, a concrete tile roof can last over 50 years.

Synthetic slate shingles, costing $4-$12 per square foot, imitate the appearance of real slate using rubber or plastic, sometimes recycled. They offer the look of stone without the weight and provide durability with sun protection. Furthermore, synthetic slate shingles are easier to install and come at a lower price compared to natural slate shingles.

A synthetic shingle roof can last anywhere from 50-100 years, depending on the specific product and your local climate.

Solar shingles, also referred to as photovoltaic shingles, are essentially small solar panels designed in the shape of traditional roofing shingles. These can be installed either on top of your existing shingles or directly onto the roof surface.

Similar to regular roofing materials, solar shingles are capable of withstanding harsh weather conditions and offering protection for your home. In terms of appearance, they closely resemble standard asphalt shingles. Although solar shingles can be quite expensive, they provide a convenient means of harnessing solar energy.

While the average lifespan of solar shingles is approximately 30 years, there are constantly new and improved products being introduced to the market, which have the potential to extend their lifespan even further.

As for green roofing, the cost varies depending on the specific type and size of the installation.

Green roofs are sustainable but not easy to construct. They consist of living plants over a waterproof membrane.

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The benefits of green roofing include managing water run-off, adding insulation to the home, and benefiting the ecosystem. However, if not well cared for, a green roof can lead to water leaks and rot.

The lifespan of a green roof depends on maintenance.

Roofing materials for flat and low sloped houses:

If you live in a home with a flat or low sloped roof, the above options won’t work. Instead, explore flat roof systems like the following:

Membrane Roofing:

– Cost: $4.25 – $14 per square foot.

Membrane roofing is a thin waterproof sheet used on commercial buildings, RVS, and homes. The two common types are TPO and EPDM. TPO is the least expensive and suitable for warm regions, while EPDM is a synthetic rubber membrane that works well in colder areas.

The average lifespan of a membrane roof is 7-15 years.

Another type of roof is the Built-Up Roof (BUR), which features multiple layers of material. A BUR system includes insulation, ply sheets, bitumen, and aggregate. The cost of a BUR roof ranges from $3.50 to $7 per square foot.

Built-up roofs outlast other flat roofing materials, with a lifespan of 15-30 years.

Rolled roofing, costing approximately $50 per square, serves as the flat roofing equivalent of asphalt shingles for non-residential structures. This type of roofing consists of an asphalt base reinforced with fiberglass and mineral resurfacing.

Although rolled roofing is commonly used for flat-roof homes, it is not the preferred option due to its short lifespan and lack of aesthetic appeal. On average, rolled roofing systems only endure for about 5-8 years.

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