Installing a new roof can be an excellent way to increase your home’s value and curb appeal. However, there are several factors to consider when selecting a roof. This article will discuss 12 types of roofing materials and why each one might be the right choice for you.
We’ll go over the costs, benefits, and disadvantages associated with the following roofing materials:
- Asphalt shingles
- Built-up (BUR)
- Solar tiles
- Synthetic slate
- Clay tiles
- Concrete tiles
- Wood shakes
- Green roofing
As you read, consider which option would be the best roofing for your budget, home aesthetic, location, and climate.
Asphalt shingles are a cost-effective, popular roofing material made of asphalt, mineral fibers, and cement fillers. This material is an excellent choice for a homeowner seeking a versatile aesthetic at a lower cost.
Asphalt shingles cost an average of $5 to $8 per square foot. You’d likely pay about $10,000 to $16,000 for a 2,000-square-foot roof.
Pros & Cons
- Affordable: Asphalt shingles are the most affordable roofing material you can buy. However, they have a lower return on investment than other costlier materials.
- Variety of options: Three-tab asphalt shingles are the cheapest, lowest quality option. Architectural asphalt shingles are the most common roofing material in modern homes. This material is in random patterns that give the roof a natural, dimensional appearance. Luxury asphalt shingles resemble stone slate roofing, making them the best option for homeowners seeking durability, curb appeal, and long-lasting quality.
- Material warranties: Asphalt shingle manufacturers offer specialized material warranties on shingle bundles. Material warranties provide repair and replacement coverage for poorly performing or damaged shingles.
- Shorter life span: Depending on the type of asphalt roof you select, it will typically last 20 to 30 years. This life span compares to the century-long spans of other materials.
- Lower curb appeal: Three-tab and architectural asphalt shingles have the lowest curb appeal of popular roofing materials. This means an asphalt roof won’t significantly increase the attractiveness of your home.
- More maintenance needs: Asphalt roofing is less durable than other materials, so it typically requires more routine maintenance. Asphalt is prone to issues like cracking and curling, so you may have to dish out extra cash to repair and replace broken parts.
- Not super durable: Cheaper asphalt shingles can have low durability, leading to extra repair and replacement costs over time. Beware that low durability can also lead to water damage or mold development. Avoid purchasing weak shingles by checking the manufacturer’s impact ratings ahead of time.
Built-up roofing (BUR) contains layered asphalt, ply sheets, and roof decking materials. The layers connect with bitumen, a petroleum-based mixture heated or cooled to adhere to the surface below. Built-up roofs are best suited for low-slope roofs with larger, flatter surfaces.
BUR typically costs $6 to $9 per square foot. A 2,000-square-foot built-up roof would likely cost between $12,000 and $18,000.
Pros & Cons
- Watertight: Built-up roofs don’t require joints, so they have a seamless design resistant to leaks. These roofs are a great option for homeowners in rainy areas.
- Fire-resistant and UV resistant: BUR materials have a top layer made of gravel aggregates that are fire-resistant and UV resistant. This makes BUR one of the safer choices.
- Energy-saving design: Modern built-up roofs include a layer of insulation that improves a home’s energy efficiency. This means potential savings on monthly power bills, thanks to your BUR.
- Shorter life span: Built-up roofs typically last around 30 years, which is much shorter than other roofing materials.
- Maintenance needs: Although BUR is generally low maintenance, it can suffer some of the same issues as other asphalt roofing materials. These problems include cracks, blisters, and warping.
- Tricky installation process: BUR often has a slow installation process due to its layered structure. A slower building process means you’ll pay more in professional installation costs.
Metal roofing is an excellent option for homeowners seeking Italian Villa or Greek-revival style homes. This material comes in countless colors and shape options, making it a diverse yet durable choice.
Metal roofing costs between $5 and $15, depending on the type of metal you choose. This means metal roof installation costs an average of $20,000 for a 2,000-square-foot roof.
Pros & Cons
- Numerous design options: Metal roofs are made from numerous materials, including steel, copper, tin, aluminum, and zinc. This diversity opens homeowners to a wide array of design, shape, color, and style options for their metal roofs.
- Long life span: Metal roofs often last up to 70 years, decades longer than asphalt shingles or BUR models. A longer life span means less frequent replacement costs and a higher ROI.
- Fire-resistance: Metal roofing materials hold a Class A fire rating, which means they’re unlikely to combust or spread flames into your home. Metal roofs are one of the most flame-resistant options available.
- Environmentally friendly: Metal roofs often consist of over 50% recycled materials, which means your roof is helping to keep waste out of landfills. These roofs are also 100% recyclable, so the eco-friendliness continues even after the panels reach the end of their life spans.
- More expensive: Metal roofing supplies can be two to three times more expensive than other options. Consider this cost factor if you need to save money in the short and long term. Metal roof repairs will likely be expensive and add additional costs down the road.
- Noisy: Many folks love the sound of raindrops on a metal roof, but others may find it annoying. Before installing a metal roof, beware of the excess noise heavy rains and hail can cause.
- Risk of water damage: If you buy a home with an older metal roof, it may lack the oxidation-resistant finishes applied to modern constructions. This means areas of the roof may suffer rust and water damage.
- Color inconsistencies: One factor to consider before installing a metal roof is the challenge of color matching. If your roof needs repairs years after installation, you may have difficulty finding an exact match with newer materials.
Membrane roofing is used on flat or very low-sloped roofs to provide insulation and protection from water damage. Membrane roofing is typically made of rubber or thermoplastics, making it a popular low-cost choice for large commercial buildings. However, the material is gaining popularity in residential settings, too.
Membrane roofing ranges from $4 to $8 per square foot. A 2,000-square foot membrane covering would likely cost around $12,000.
Pros & Cons
- One of the cheapest roofing materials: Membrane roofing sits at the lower end of the price range, making it an ideal choice for budgeting homeowners.
- Improved insulation: This material serves as an insulator for your home. The membrane will help you save on energy costs by keeping warmth in during cool outdoor temperatures and vice versa.
- Eco-friendly design: Membrane roofing is 100% recyclable, making it a more environmentally friendly roofing material.
- Lightweight: Membrane roofing is lightweight, so it won’t put excess strain on your roof. This quality makes it a good option for older homes or those with structural problems.
- Intolerant of UV rays: Membrane roofing generally isn’t impervious to UV rays, which means the powerful beams could degrade the material over time.
- Poor visual appeal: Membrane roofing boasts a more industrial look that won’t do much for your home’s curb appeal – especially if you live in an area with tall surrounding buildings where tenants can peer down upon the roof.
- Not suited for all environments: Membrane roofing isn’t suited for scorching environments because the heat can cause it to warp and shrink over time. It’s also not the best option for environments with frequent storms and hail that could puncture the membrane’s thin surface.
Nulok Roofing Systems [@nulokroofing] (2021, October 7).
Tesla debuted designs for its patented solar roofing tiles in late 2016. These tiles introduced a modern roofing technology that replaces traditional roofing tiles with small solar panels. This means that simply by existing, the roof is capturing and generating electricity for your home.
Read More on Solar: Solar Energy Statistics & Facts
Solar roofing tiles cost around $2 per watt and $20 per square foot. A 2,000-square-foot roof with approximately nine kilowatts worth of solar power would cost around $58,000.
Pros & Cons
- Lower monthly electric bills: Perhaps the most obvious benefit of solar shingles is their ability to offset your monthly energy bills by producing their own electricity. Even though solar is expensive, you’ll save money over time.
- Offsets carbon emissions: Solar energy production counteracts carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to global warming. With a solar shingle roof, you’ll be helping the population work toward a greener, brighter future.
- Sleek aesthetic: Solar shingles look far from outlandish despite not being a traditional roofing material. These modern tiles look sleek from the ground and will likely improve your home’s curb appeal. Passersby will be shocked when you tell them your roof is a solar energy powerhouse.
- Increases home resale value: A 2019 Zillow study suggests that solar-powered homes sell for over $10,000 more than traditionally powered homes. This means you’ll likely earn back your investment and more should you decide to sell.
- High installation costs: Solar shingles are an expensive roofing material for obvious reasons. Unlike typical materials that merely shelter the home from wind and weather, solar shingles do that while providing energy and lowering bills. However, solar panels of any kind have high ROI rates, so you’ll likely earn back your investment over time.
- Not as efficient as solar panels: According to Energy Sage, solar panels operate at 22% efficiency, while solar shingles top out at around 18%. This means solar shingles transform less captured sunlight into electricity than their traditional panel counterparts.
Slate roofing is a durable roofing material made of 100% natural stone. This high-quality stone is stunning, classic, and incredibly long-lasting. A slate roof will last well over a century with proper maintenance.
Slate roofing costs around $20 to $30 per square foot. This means that slate roofing for a 2,000-square-foot roof would cost $40,000 to $60,000.
Pros & Cons
- Durable: Durability is one of the most important factors when choosing a roofing material. Slate’s stone consistency makes it especially resistant to damage from high winds, storms, heat waves, and freezing temperatures.
- Fire-resistant qualities: Slate shingles have a Class A fire rating, which means they’re less likely to spread flames or suffer serious fire damage.
- Natural aesthetic: Slate roofing has a natural stone-like appearance that makes for a modern yet classic style. This roofing material is perfect for homeowners seeking a roof that’s as sturdy as it is visually appealing.
- Low-maintenance: Durability makes slate roofing less likely to suffer damages or need maintenance. This means you’ll save money on costly repairs and replacements with this type of roof.
- Color/style options: Slate is an excellent choice for those seeking a specific roof aesthetic. This material comes in various styles, shapes, and colors, sure to fit any homeowner’s needs. Slate may be the perfect option if you seek high-strength shingles in gray, black, purple, red, or green
- Expensive: Slate isn’t the most affordable roofing option. It typically costs $20 more per square foot than other shingle options. Slate also requires a special installation process that necessitates additional expenditure.
- Heavy: Slate’s stone consistency makes it a cumbersome load to put atop your roof. For this reason, it’s not the best choice for older homes or those with structural issues.
Synthetic “Rubber” Slate
Synthetic slate is a roofing material made from recycled rubber tires and other products that are melted down into tile molds. Synthetic or “rubber” slate is a practical way to keep rubber products out of landfills. It’s also a fantastic alternative to authentic slate tiles, which are too expensive for many homeowners.
Synthetic slate roofing costs between $8 and $13 per square foot. This cost translates to $16,000 to $26,000 for a 2,000-square-foot roof.
Pros & Cons
- Fits many different roof shapes: Synthetic slate is made of rubber composites, which means it can mold into various shapes. You can select a shape that mimics natural stone or choose a unique geometric tile to fit your home.
- Slate aesthetic without the cost: Rubber slate is a great choice for homeowners seeking the visual appeal of slate at half the cost.
- High impact resistance: The composite roofing’s rubber composition gives it excellent impact absorption and weather resistance. Rubber shingles have a Class 4 impact rating, meaning they can withstand the force of 2-inch hail balls. They’re also capable of withstanding the high winds produced by severe storms.
- Much lighter than authentic slate: Synthetic roofing is only one-third of the weight of real slate, making it a safer option for roofs with low weight-bearing capabilities.
- Shorter life span: Synthetic slate has a life span of around 50 years which is half as long as the real thing. It is, however, longer than the life spans of other roofing materials, so it’s still a solid choice.
- Strong odor: Rubber slate often emits a strong plasticky smell immediately after installation. This odor will eventually fade, but homeowners with sensitive noses may find it unbearable.
- Not fire-resistant: Unlike genuine slate roofing and metal shingles, rubber composite roofing isn’t fireproof. It has a Class C fire rating, which means it’s about as flammable as wood.
Clay tiles are made from solid clay or shale molded and dried in a kiln. This roofing material is popular for its long-lasting durability and picturesque appeal.
Clay roofing installation typically averages between $15 and $25 per square foot. A 2,000-square-foot clay roof could cost up to $50,000.
Pros & Cons
- Unique appearance: Clay tiles often come in orange hues reminiscent of Spanish and Mediterranean architecture. This material is a great option for homeowners seeking a uniquely stunning roof design.
- Long-lasting quality: With proper installation and maintenance, clay roofing tiles will last up to 100 years. This quality diminishes the need for replacement every couple of decades, contributing to the roof’s overall ROI.
- Added insulation: The dense makeup of clay tiles gives them insulating properties that are excellent for energy efficiency. Your home will stay warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, bringing down your overall costs.
- Durability: Clay tiles are long-lasting, partly due to their high durability. This material has high-strength properties that can withstand high winds and huge hailstones.
- Heavy: Clay tiles contain dried earth minerals that are quite cumbersome – especially when compacted into hard tiles. Clay tiles are heavy and may not be the best choice for some homes. Their weight also contributes to a more challenging and, therefore, more expensive installation process.
- More expensive than other options: Clay roofing can cost up to $25 per square foot, which is much higher than other materials. However, clay has a longer life span, so the expense may be worth it.
- Low impact resistance: Despite clay’s high strength and long-lasting durability, the material is brittle under certain circumstances. You’ll want to avoid walking on the roof or letting tree limbs grow over the surface. Heavy, concentrated impacts like these can crack and loosen clay tiles.
Concrete tiles are made of a cement mixture formed into tile molds under intense pressure and heat. This material is gaining popularity for its cost-effectiveness, durability, and stylish appearance.
Concrete roofing tiles cost between $5 and $11 per square foot. This means a 2,000-square foot concrete roof would tally in at $10,000 to $22,000.
Pros & Cons
- Affordability: Concrete tiles are cheaper than their clay counterparts. This benefit makes them a good option for a homeowner seeking a tiled roof within a tight budget.
- Numerous colors and styles: Concrete is a versatile roofing material because it can be formed into a wide range of shapes, styles, and colors. Some concrete roof designs even mimic the appearance of wood, clay, stone, and slate roofs.
- High impact rating: Concrete roofing is durable against nasty weather conditions. This mighty material can withstand up to 180-mph winds and 2-inch-wide hailstones.
- Decent life span: Concrete tiles last up to 50 years with proper installation and maintenance. Though this isn’t as long as clay tiles, it’s still a decent roofing material life span.
- Maintenance needs: Concrete tiles are subject to discoloration and fading over time. The material’s porous surface can suffer efflorescence, a process in which water combines with lime to produce a powdery white substance. You can seal the tiles to prevent efflorescence, but you’ll likely need to pay a professional for the job.
- Heavy: Concrete consists of a compacted, dried cement mixture that is incredibly heavy atop your roof. You may want to reconsider a concrete tile roof if your home is older or has structural issues. Concrete roofing can weigh up to 1,200 pounds per 100 square feet.
- Higher installation costs: Like all tile options, concrete tiles require a precise installation process to ensure they’re laid and sealed properly. This professional assistance will undoubtedly run up a tab.
- Brittle under heavy weight: Like clay tiles, concrete tiles are durable and impact-resistant but also brittle under certain circumstances. Avoid setting heavy objects atop your concrete roof or walking across it to make repairs. Keep trees trimmed back to prevent limbs from falling and cracking the concrete tiles.
Wood Shake Roofing
Wooden shakes are made from split and treated cedar trees. This roofing material was traditionally split by hand with a mallet, ax, and pure muscle power. Modern processes mimic traditionally cut shakes’ rugged looks to provide homeowners with a rustic, natural aesthetic, making them a fantastic choice for cottages and cabins.
Cedar shakes typically cost between $6 and $9 per square foot. A 2,000-square-foot wood shake roof would likely cost $12,000 to $18,000.
Pros & Cons
- Natural appearance: Wood shakes are a perfect choice if you want your roof to have a rustic fairytale-like appearance. These rugged yet charming shingles have a natural appearance that will enhance your home’s curb appeal.
- Affordable: Wooden shakes are in a similar price range to asphalt shingles, making them one of the most affordable roofing materials on the market.
- Great insulating qualities: Wood is a poor heat conductor, so it’s less likely to transfer outdoor temperatures into your home. This insulating quality is great for energy savings.
- Resistant to high winds: Wood shakes are incredibly wind-resistant and able to withstand
- Shorter life span: Wood shakes have a life span of up to 30 years which is decades shorter than stone and clay tiles.
- Susceptible to pest damage: Wood is extremely porous, which puts it at a higher risk of mold and pest damage. This means you’ll likely have to perform more routine maintenance to keep termites, mildew, and wood rot at bay.
- Highly flammable: Wood is a highly flammable material, so your cedar shake roof won’t protect your home during a fire. You may have to dish out extra cash on your homeowners insurance policy.
Rolled or “roll” roofing is an asphalt product that adheres to surfaces with high heat. This material resembles traditional asphalt shingles but functions as one long asphalt strip. It’s not as durable as asphalt shingles, which is a major consideration to keep in mind.
Rolled roofing generally costs between $1 and $3 per square foot. This means a 2,000-square-foot rolled roof would cost well under $6,000 to install.
Pros & Cons
- Affordable: Rolled roofing is the cheapest material you can buy for your roof. This may be a good option for homeowners who need a quick, easy, and highly affordable roofing solution. However, this material has a short life span and low ROI rate, so keep these considerations in mind.
- Good for low-slope roofs: Rolled roofing comes in long asphalt strips that are well suited for low-slope roofs. This is a pro if you have a flatter roof but a con if your roof has a steep incline and multiple peaks.
- Easy to install: Unlike shingles and tiles with arduous installation processes, rolled roofing is relatively easy to install. The material simply needs to be rolled out across the roof and adhered with heat.
- Won’t improve curb appeal: Rolled roofing isn’t a good option for a homeowner trying to amp up their home’s appearance. The material has an industrial look that won’t add to a home’s value.
- Not durable: This material is one of the least durable materials. It comes in long strips that don’t adapt well to the expansions and contractions temperature shifts cause. As the house frame shrinks and expands, the strips will likely tear and deteriorate over time.
- Short life span: Rolled roofing only lasts up to eight years, the shortest life span of any roofing material.
A green roof is an extension of an existing roof that includes soil and plants atop a waterproof layer. These living rooftops gained traction with the founding of the Green Building Council in 1993. Today, the movement continues with the goal of improving air quality, drainage, and architectural design in urban areas.
A green roof installation costs around $20 per square foot. A 2,000-square-foot green roof would be about $40,000. You’ll also pay for maintenance and care to keep your green roof healthy throughout its life span.
Pros & Cons
- Aesthetic improvements: A green roof is an incredible investment for those interested in a beautiful home garden. Not only do these rooftop gardens provide numerous environmental benefits, but they’re also undoubtedly pleasing to the eye.
- Extra insulation: Green roofs are excellent insulators. These flourishing surfaces improve a home’s energy efficiency by keeping in cool or warm air during respective seasons. Green roofs also absorb outside noise, keeping the inside of your home peaceful and private.
- Improved air quality: You’ve likely heard that plants improve air quality, and green roofs are no exception to this wonderful truth. The plants on your green roof will act as natural gutters, absorbing rainwater and releasing it into the atmosphere as clean, fresh air.
- Increases home resale value: According to Green Roofs for Healthy Cities, green roofs can increase a home’s attractiveness on the real estate market. Potential buyers interested in the green building movement will race to purchase a green-roofed home.
- Not conventional: While some people may love the idea of a green roof, others may view it as outlandish. For this reason, green roofing can harm a home’s resale value in more traditional areas.
- More maintenance requirements: As you can imagine, a living rooftop requires more maintenance than stationary stone shingles. A green roof requires maintenance similar to a garden – weeding, watering, and fertilizing – to keep the area alive and well.
- Heavy: Green roofs include roof decking materials, waterproof layers, soil, and many plants. For this reason, they can put quite a load atop your roof. Keep this consideration in mind before investing in a living rooftop.
We hope this article gave you some insights into different roofing options on the market. With these considerations in mind, you’re ready to select a material that fits your budget, investment, location, and structural needs.
Remember that while some roofing materials have a high initial cost, they’ll improve your home’s resale value, last longer, and provide more benefits in the long run. At the same time, there are still affordable options that provide more than enough protection and value to any home.
Is a New Roof a Good Investment?
A new roof is a wonderful investment for your home. A 2019 study from the National Association of REALTORS found that new roofing is one of the top remodeling projects for increased resale value. The report states that you’ll likely recover 107% of your investment for a new roof when selling your home.
What Is the Easiest Roof To Install?
Rolled roofing is undoubtedly the easiest and cheapest roofing material to install. However, this type also has the shortest life span, so you’d be better off spending a little more time and money on asphalt shingles.
Should I Choose Tiles or Shingles for My Roof?
Tile roofs have life spans decades longer than shingles, which is a major factor to consider when investing in a new roof. However, shingles are gaining durability and versatility due to increased popularity and new technologies.
One option isn’t necessarily better than the other, so you’ll just have to see which material fits best into your budget, style, and location needs.
On Average, How Much Does It Cost To Replace a Roof?
Roof replacements generally cost around $10,000. However, this cost can jump to $50,000 or more depending on the material you select.
What Factors Should I Consider When Deciding on a Roof?
When deciding on the material for your roof, you should consider initial cost, return on investment rate, life span, maintenance requirements, impact rating, fire resistance, and climate. These considerations will help you decide how a specific material will fare for your location and budget.