10 Roofing Materials Every Homeowner Should Consider

various types of roofing material

Picking the best roofing materials for a home isn't always hard or complicated. When deciding on the best roofing material, a little research goes a long way. Here are the 10 best roofing materials to choose from.

Whether you own a new build, an old home or are planning to design your dream home, at some point you will probably have to pick out new roofing material. Unfortunately, roofs do not last forever and depending on where you live, the climate and other factors like an HOA will determine the best roof for you and your family. 

We will dive into the ten best roofing materials to choose from, how long they last, the average cost, what environment they are ideal for and more. Below are the top ten roofing materials every homeowner should consider. 

1. Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt composite shingle roofing is the most widely used in the U.S. This roofing is effective for over many types of climates and is relatively low in cost compared to other popular roofing, such as metal, which can double or triple that of asphalt shingles. Asphalt shingle roofs last about 20-30 years, which is great but not as good as metal roofing, which can last up to 70 years. 

Asphalt shingles can fit the style of many types of houses as well, which also makes them a popular choice among homeowners. Types of asphalt shingles can range from the most cost-effective 3-tab shingles to premium shingles. Premium shingles are a larger investment but can lengthen the life of your roof up to 40-50 years.

2. Clay Tile Roofing

A clay tile roof has a lifespan of up to 100 years and is a great option for coastal homes that might suffer damage from salty air. Clay tile roofs are beautiful and extremely effective. However, they are also difficult to install, very heavy, and expensive. If tile roofing is considered, the structure of the house is ideally solid and sound. 

Clay tile roofs can weigh up to 2,000 pounds per square foot, while asphalt roofs weigh around 275-425 pounds per square foot. Clay tiles come in many beautiful styles that range from flat shake tiles to Spanish and Scandia tiles to double Roman tiles, all of which have their own pros and cons.

3. Rolled Roofing

Rolled roofing is an inexpensive and easy-to-install option. Rolled roofing is essentially like one big shingle that’s rolled out and installed on a roof. It’s much easier to transport than shingles, and installation is simple and fast. 

Some of the cons include a short life span of around five to eight years compared to asphalt roofing that lasts at least 20, has low curb appeal, and aren’t allowed by some HOA’s. Rolled roofing is a great option for a DIY playhouse, she-shed, garden shed, or small workshop, but it isn’t a great choice for a family home.

4. Membrane Roofing

various different roofs to show roofing materials

For flat-roofed homes or homes with very low slopes, membrane roofing is a great option. Shingles are designed to allow water to slide off of them on sloped roofs, but a roof that is considered flat (1/4 to 1/2 inch slope per foot) needs roofing that holds standing water for a short amount of time. The most often used type of membrane roofing is ethylene, propylene diene monomer (EPDM), which is a synthetic rubber sheet. 

Membrane roofing uses a layer of insulation board which is then topped by the membrane. A rubber roof can last up to 50 years if installed correctly. The average cost of this type of roofing is fairly low, ranging from $3.25 – $14.00 a square foot for material and installation.

5. Metal Roofing

Metal roofing is a great option for most houses in most climates. They have a sleek look, are energy efficient, and are environmentally friendly. While they are more costly than an asphalt roof, the lifespan of a metal roof ranges from 50 to 70 years, which is sure to increase the value of your home. 

Metal roofing is low maintenance, but can get dented from falling limbs from trees during windy conditions. It can get noisy during a rainstorm with a metal roof, but many people find the sound of raindrops on the roof relaxing. You can lower the noise with extra insulation in the ceiling, which can also raise the cost, so take personal preferences into consideration before going this route.

6. Metal Shakes/Shingles

Some homeowners might want the longevity and benefits of the metal roof but prefer the look of shingles. For those homeowners, metal shakes or shingles are a great option that can offer the best of both worlds. 

Metal shakes last just as long as regular metal roofing and may end up being cheaper than a standard metal roof. The average cost of metal shingles, per square foot, is about $10.50 to $14.00, while the average cost of a standard metal roof per square foot is about $12.00 to $16.00. However, check installation costs and take them into consideration before going this route.

7. Concrete Tile

Concrete tiles have a life expectancy of 50-plus years, making them a great option for a durable roof. The tiles come in virtually any color and bring sophistication to almost any home. Consider the structure of a home before concrete tiles are decided on, as the tiles are very heavy. Per 100 square feet, even the most lightweight tiles weigh around 600 pounds, while the average weight for concrete tile is anywhere from 820 pounds to 1,200 pounds. 

While concrete tiles are resistant to high winds, rot, and fire, they are not indestructible and can break easily from falling tree limbs during storms.

8. Wood Shakes

For the homeowner looking for a natural appeal, cedar or redwood shakes are likely an attractive option. Wood shakes have a relatively low cost per square foot, with cedar shakes averaging about $4 to $7 per square foot. The average life expectancy of this type of roof is about 30 years if it is properly maintained. 

This type of roof is high maintenance, so homeowners need to factor in those costs as well, including whether they are doing the work themselves or paying someone else to do it. Wood shakes require regular cleaning so algae and rot don’t take over, and a protective coating applies.

9. Slate Shingles

Slate roofing is not only aesthetically pleasing but also durable, long-lasting, and low maintenance. The average slate roof can last anywhere from 40 to 75 years, but some have gone for as long as 100 years. Slate roofing may also increase the value of a home, depending on where you live, due to its benefits and beautiful curb appeal. 

The slate roof costs are on the high end, averaging about $20 a square foot, including installation. Consider the structure of the home before going with a slate roof because slate shingles are very heavy, averaging anywhere from 800 to 1,000 pounds per square foot. 

10. Synthetic Slate Tiles 

For the homeowner who loves slate roofing tiles but needs something a little more practical, perfect alternatives may be found in synthetic or faux slate roofing. Faux slate costs much less than a real slate roof, with the average cost per square foot being around $9 to $12. 

However, synthetic slate can become discolored and start curling in just a few years, making it nearly impossible to confuse with the real thing. While manufacturers claim they can last 50 to 100 years, some are doubtful because discoloration can start happening within 10 years max.

These are the top 10 roofing options to choose from the next time you need to pick out roofing materials. If you have an HOA make sure to check with their restrictions before you start your research! 

It is important to ask yourself a few questions first: 

  • How long do I need this roof to last? 
  • Will it withstand the weather elements where I live? 
  • How much am I willing to spend?
  • Will it match the house? 

Just because a roof is aesthetically pleasing, doesn’t mean it is the best for your existing framing or current slope. Chat with a professional to make sure you are on the right track with your roofing needs!

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