Top 6 Best Roofing Materials and Factors to Consider in Choosing the Right Roof

Oct 20, 2022

Updating your current roof allows you to add value to your property while also conveying the look and feel of your home. Since proper roof framing, installation, and preparation are always important, the material you choose to use for your roof can take your property’s structural integrity and exterior look to the next level.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to revamp your home in terms of structural integrity, look, color and style,” says Tom Bollnow, the senior director of technical services of the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA). Roofing material is an important factor that influences the total look and style of your property. Consider some of the following questions when choosing roofing materials.

  • How heavy is this material, and will it need to be framed differently or require a special technique to be installed?
  • Does it have a wide variety of colors and styles which complement your property?
  • Is the material in accordance with the fire and safety codes in your area?
  • Are there any special maintenance or installation considerations?
  • Is this material effective and can sustain extreme weather conditions that are frequent in your area?
  • What are the price, life expectancy, and warranty details for this material?
  • The answers to these questions will help you determine which option is best for your property. There are numerous roofing material options available, and here is a list of some of the most popular roofing materials.

Roofing Materials and Key Considerations for Your Roof

1. Asphalt Shingles Roof

Asphalt shingles are the most common and widely known residential roofing material used in the US because they are inexpensive and simple to install. This material can be strengthened and enhanced with organic materials or fiberglass without affecting the shingle’s appearance.

Pros: Asphalt is available in a wide range of colors and is considered one of the least expensive roofing materials there is.

Cons: Asphalt has a shorter life expectancy, its quality varies, and does not provide insulation as other roofing materials.

House Styles: Asphalt shingles complement a wide range of architectural styles, particularly traditional suburban styles.

Life Span and Cost: Its price ranges from $70 to $120 per square foot, and can last 20 to 25 years if properly maintained.

2. Wood Shingles and Shake

Many homeowners adore the appearance of wood shingles and shakes. It has been the go-to roofing material for hundreds of years in the US. If you live in a high-risk area, it’s recommended to look for Class A fire-rated wood roofing materials with shingles that have been treated with a fire-resistant coating.

Pros: Wood shingles are natural material that is typically made from cedar, redwood, and southern pine which are widely and readily available almost anywhere in the US.

Cons: Fire and safety codes prohibits the use of wood shingles in some areas as they can easily catch fire. It can also be a concern in wet climates because of problems like mold, and rot that can weaken the integrity of your structure.

House Styles: Woof Shingles and Shakes rustic style complements bungalow, Cod, cottage, Craftsman, Cape, and Tudor-style homes.

Life Span and Cost: Their prices start at around $100 to $150 a square foot and can last 25 to 30 years.

3. Clay and Concrete Tiles

Clay and concrete materials add elegance and texture to your roof. Ribbed, genuine flat, or scalloped clay tiles are strong and durable as well as concrete tiles which are less expensive than the other types but they are heavy, usually requiring professional installation.

Pros: Clay and concrete tiles are both known for being non-combustible, long-lasting, and energy efficient.

Cons: Clay and concrete tiles are both pricey and heavy, warranting additional framing and professionals to be installed. 

House Styles: Clay and concrete tiles complement Southwestern, Mediterranean, Mission, and Spanish-style architecture.

Life Span and Cost: Their prices range from $300 to $500 per square foot, and if properly maintained, they can last 40 to 50 years.

4. Slate

Slate is among the most resilient roofing materials available. Slate is not all the same, but the greatest thing about it is it can even outlast its fasteners. In fact, old slate is frequently recycled and reinstalled with the possibility that it will last another couple of centuries. Slate is also very heavy and beautiful, with a unique and elegant appearance. It comes in the color green, grey, black, purple, and red.

Pros: Slate is extremely strong, durable, fire-resistant, and sustainable that it can even be recycled.

Cons: Slate’s quality can vary. It is extremely heavy, expensive, and requires additional framing and highly qualified professionals for installation.

House Styles: Slate complements European, French chateau, and Colonial, architecture.

Life Span and Cost: Their prices start around $600 to $800 per square foot and can still go up from there. Slate could last for more than 50 years, and in some cases up to 100 years.

5. Synthetic Roofing Products

Synthetic roofing materials are now available in the market, such as plastic, rubber, and polymer, to mimic the color, texture, and look of natural materials such as slate and wood. These materials are built to be durable and easy to maintain. A number of these materials can withstand fire. They are easier to install, more durable, and significantly cheaper than genuine slate.

Pros: Synthetic roofing is frequently less fragile, expensive, and heavy, compared to other roofing materials.

Cons: Some of these materials can absorb moisture or water which can cause several concerns, but their quality varies.

House Styles: Synthetic roofing materials are flexible and compatible with a wide variety of architectural styles.

Life Span and Cost: Prices begin around $300 per square foot. It can last for up to 50 years with a warranty.

6. Metal Roofing

A metal roof is a type of roofing system which are made of metal pieces or tiles that have high resistance, durability, and longevity. It can withstand severe weather conditions and are available in copper, stainless steel, aluminum, and zinc and come in two varieties: shingles and panels. They’re stylish, lightweight, long-lasting, and reusable, and they’re worth thinking about if you’re keen on rainwater harvesting.

Pros: Metal roofing is more durable and long-lasting than wood or asphalt and it has a high solar reflectance which reduces heat absorption.

Cons: Metal roofing is pretty expensive, costing up to two or three times compared to other roofing materials. During heavy rain or hailstorm, it can also be quite noisy.

House Styles: Metal roof looks perfect on cabins, cottages, bungalows, and modern-style homes.

Life Span and Cost: Prices range from $100 to $300 per square foot, with some styles costing up to $600 to $800 per square foot. Metal roofing can last anywhere from 40 to 75 years.

Each of the materials listed above has advantages and disadvantages that make them better or worse suited to your needs and desires for your home. So, before making a decision, it’s critical to carefully consider your options as well as these key deciding factors. Hiring a professional roofing company to complete your dream house is also an excellent way to do it.