What Is the Best Type of Roof? (2024)

By Amanda Lutz Updated August 2, 2023

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Every type of roofing material has benefits and drawbacks, so it’s up to the homeowner to choose the best type for their needs and preferences. We reviewed the most common type of roofing materials to help you make the best choice.

 

The Best Types of Roofs

Choosing from the various roofing materials can be overwhelming. To help narrow down the decision, we’ve compiled the eight best roofing materials below.

Clay Tiles

Clay tiles are one of the oldest roofing materials and are often seen in Italian or Spanish-style homes. Clay can be unglazed, such as terra cotta clay tile, or factory-fired glaze with a light or cool color. While it’s expensive to install and repair, clay tiles last over 100 years and can help homeowners save on energy costs.

Clay tiles cost $12 to $25 per square foot for materials or $13,000 to $30,000 for a completely new roof.* Manufacturers often discontinue tile styles and colors, so if you find one you like for your home, order extra in case any need replacing.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Clay Tiles

BenefitsDrawbacks

Can last upwards of 100 years

High initial investment

Low maintenance

Difficult to install

Improves the home’s energy efficiency

Not recommended for all roof slopes

Concrete Roofing

Concrete tile is a cost-effective and durable material that’s very customizable. This type of roof comes in various colors and styles and is often used to mimic the appearance of other roofing materials, such as clay tiles, slate, or even wood shakes. Similar to slate, not all homes can support its weight. Your contractor may need to reinforce your roof if there’s insufficient support.

Expect to pay $2 to $4 per square foot for concrete tile, or $8,000 to $22,000 for this entire home improvement project. If you need roof reinforcement, hiring a structural engineer could add an additional $1,000 to $10,000.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Concrete Roofing

BenefitsDrawbacks

Cost-effective material that can imitate other roofing materials

Cracks in very low temperatures

Strong resistance against wind

Some roofs may need reinforcement

Eco-friendly and made from recycled materials

Color can fade over time

Green Roofing

A green roof is a rooftop garden covered in a layer of vegetation, such as small bushes, trees, grasses, and flowers. Green roofing systems in residential roofing help support pollinators and remove the heat from the air. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the surface temperature of a green roof can be cooler than the air, whereas the surface of a conventional rooftop can be up to 90 degrees warmer.

Many homes with flat or sloped roofs can support a rooftop garden. According to the EPA, the cost to install a green roof starts at $10 per square foot and goes up to $25 per square foot. Annual maintenance costs range from $0.75 to $1.50 per square foot. You may get a tax break by choosing an environmentally friendly green roof.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Green Roofing

BenefitsDrawbacks

Helps support the environment

Requires maintenance and frequent watering

Reduces heat transfer through roof

May require structural support

Adds aesthetic value

High investment

Metal Roofing

Metal roofing is another popular roofing material that can last for decades. Metal roofing comes in a variety of types, colors, and styles. Metal sheets and shingles are the most common types, although you can also opt for standing seam or corrugated metal roofing. There are lots of types of metal available—galvalume, aluminum, copper, zinc, and steel are the most popular—to fit your home’s aesthetic while staying within your budget.

On average, the cost of a metal roof is $11,000, but prices range from $5,600 to $16,500. Expect to pay between $4 and $30 per square foot, depending on the type of metal. Metal roofs are suitable for various types of homes, but are usually not recommended for flat roofs, especially if they have little to no slope.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Metal Roofing

BenefitsDrawbacks

Can last 100 years or longer

Higher upfront costs

Can increase the resale value of your home

The sound of rain hitting the roof can be noisy during storms

They’re resistant to fire

Not always recommended for coastal homes because the salt can cause rust

Shingles

Roof shingles are flat, rectangular pieces that overlap to channel water away from a pitched roof. Asphalt is the most common type of shingle, but they come in a range of materials. The best roof shingle depends on your home’s style, your roof’s layout, and your area’s weather conditions.

Shingle material has the biggest impact on your roof’s performance, durability, and cost. Asphalt shingle roofs are the most affordable, while clay tile, natural slate, and solar shingles are the bigger investments. Asphalt shingles cost $4 per square foot and go up to $25 per square foot for solar. On the lower end, a new shingle roof costs $5,000, but prices can go over $20,000 for higher-end materials on a larger roof.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Shingle Roofing

BenefitsDrawbacks

Come in a variety of materials, styles, patterns, and colors to fit any budget

Not as durable as other roof types

Offers protection against most weather elements

Typically end up in landfills

Easy to repair and replace

Susceptible to wind damage

Slate Roofing

Slate is one of the longest-lasting roofing materials, costing between $5,421 and $23,712. Standard slate costs $10 to $15 per square foot, while synthetic slate tiles made of clay, ceramic, or concrete range from $7 to $10 per square foot.

Slate takes longer than other roofing materials to install because it is more difficult to install. It could take between 200 and 300 hours to install a slate roof on an average-sized home, whereas asphalt shingles take one to three days. When well-maintained, a slate roof can last for generations on most homes. However, some older homes may be unable to bear the additional 1,500 to 2,000 pounds of pressure from a slate roof.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Slate Roofing

BenefitsDrawbacks

Long life span of 200 years

Home may need additional structural support

Low maintenance

High up-front cost

Fire resistant

Heavy objects, such as large hail, can cause damage and require roof repair

Solar Roofing

A solar roof is made of thin photovoltaic sheets that overlay or replace shingles and attach to the roof decking. They work by absorbing sunlight and converting it into energy for the home. Solar roof shingle technology is fairly new, so you’ll need to find a roofer specializing in installation. Solar roofing is a significant investment, costing homeowners $21 to $25 per square foot or $35,000 to $75,000 for the project. However, homeowners can use solar incentives, rebates, and tax credits to offset the initial cost.

Before you opt for solar, it’s important to note that this technology isn’t suitable for every roof. Solar shingles may not be an option if your roof doesn’t get enough direct sunlight during the day. If you do have solar shingles installed, they can last between 25 and solar years, which is about the same life span as a solar panel. You can ensure their longevity by getting regular inspections and keeping up with maintenance.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Solar Roofing

BenefitsDrawbacks

Reduces your carbon footprint

Higher cost

Tax credits and rebates help offset the cost of solar shingles

Dependent on your roof’s orientation

Sleek and aesthetically pleasing

Less efficient than solar panels

Wood Roofing

The look of wood roofing pairs well with any classic and historic-style homes, such as Cape Cod cottages or Craftsman homes. Basic wood shingles are sawmillled for uniformity, while shanks are split into wedges for a more rugged look. Cedar, redwood, or pine are the most commonly used types of wood and can be stained in any color. Wood doesn’t work well in damp climates and will last longest in dry areas of the country. Wood requires regular maintenance and treatment with fire retardants and chemical preservatives for maximum durability.

The cost of wood roofing depends on the type and grade of wood as well as whether you choose shingles or shakes. For example, cedar shingles cost $4.50 to $9 per square foot, while cedar shakes are $5.50 to $13.50 per square foot. The average cost for non-cedar wood shakes is around $5.25 per square foot. The average price to install a 3,000-square-foot shake roof is $18,000 to $25,000.

Benefits and Drawbacks of Wood Roofing

BenefitsDrawbacks

Boost curb appeal

High maintenance

Resistant to wind and impact damage

Wood may require treatment

Good insulator

Vulnerable to water damage, mold, and rot

*Article cost data via Angi.com

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Comparing the Best Types of Roofs

MaterialCost per Square FootAverage Life Span

Clay tiles

$3–$7

100 years

Concrete roofing

$2–$4

50 years

Green roofing

$10–$25

40+ years

Metal roofing

$2–$25

100+ years

Shingles

$.80–$25

15–50 years

Slate roofing

$7–$15

200 years

Solar roofing

$21–$25

25–30 years

Wood roofing

$4.50–$13.50

20–50 years

 


 

Professional vs. DIY Roofing Projects

Roofing projects are generally more advanced than what the average homeowner can handle. One small mishap could be injurious to your or your house. Roofing is best left to a professional roofing contractor with the knowledge and expertise necessary for roof replacement or maintenance. Reputable companies will be timely and follow proper safety measures.

 


 

How to Hire a Professional

Many roofing contractors specialize in specific types of roofs. Here’s what to look for when searching for the right pro.

 


 

Our Recommendation

The best type of roof is different for everyone. Some roofing options aren’t suitable for every home. We recommend weighing the pros and cons before making your decision. You want your roof to complement your home’s style and withstand the local climate. You can get a quote from one of our roofing experts using the form below.

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Just answer a few questions, and we’ll take care of the rest!