Roof shingles can be made from many materials, including rubber. When rubber is used as a roofing material, it’s usually installed as a membrane stretched over a flat roof. Rubber can also be formed into shingles shaped like natural materials, such as wood and slate, at a lower weight and price point than those materials.
Below, we’ll identify the benefits and drawbacks of rubber roofing shingles and break down rubber roof costs. We’ll also compare rubber to asphalt to help you decide which roofing material is right for your home.
What Are Rubber Roofing Shingles?
Rubber shingles are rarely, if ever, made with new, natural rubber. Instead, synthetic polymers and recycled materials, like tires, come together to form a composite that looks and acts much like rubber.
This recycled rubber material is an excellent insulator that doesn’t curl, crack, or bend over time. Rubber shingles fit together much like asphalt shingles, but they’re more durable and eco-friendly than asphalt. They’re also weather-resistant, holding up to high winds, heavy rain, and impact better than many other roofing products.
Benefits and Drawbacks of Rubber Roofing Shingles
Rubber shingles have substantial benefits, but they may not be right for every home, climate, or budget. Here are the main factors to consider when deciding on this roofing material.
➕ Can mimic the appearance of more expensive materials, such as wood and slate
➕ Eco-friendly and energy-efficient
➕ Highly durable against wind, rain, and impact
➖ Can develop mold spots
➖ More expensive than asphalt shingles
➖ Strong initial rubber odor
Asphalt shingles are the most popular residential shingles due to their low cost, high availability, and easy installation. As a result, a homeowner is likely to compare most roofing materials to standard asphalt shingles when deciding on the best roof type for their house. The price of an asphalt shingle roof tends to range from about $4 per square foot for basic three-tab shingles up to $15 per square foot for premium architectural shingles. For a 2,000-square-foot roof, that’s a cost range of $8,000 to $30,000.*
By contrast, rubber roofing shingles tend to cost $7.50 to $15 per square foot for both materials and installation. That means it would cost $15,000 to $30,000 to cover a 2,000-square-foot roof with rubber shingles. While rubber shingles have a higher initial price point than standard asphalt shingles, they’re rarely more expensive than high-end architectural asphalt shingles. However, they last longer than both, so they’re more cost-effective than asphalt shingles over time.
Other shingle types, such as metal roofing, cost substantially more than rubber shingles. Depending on the metal type, these roofs cost an average of $10 to $35 per square foot or $20,000 to $70,000 for a 2,000-square-foot roof replacement. If you’re choosing between an asphalt or metal roof, price may be a substantial factor.
*Cost figures were sourced from Fixr and HomeAdvisor.
Despite rubber shingles’ low weight, ease of cutting, and precut nail holes, they’re a specialty product that requires a trained and certified roofing contractor to properly install. Roofing a house is a risky job—to preserve the structural integrity and value of your home and get the most out of your rubber shingles, hire a licensed contractor instead of attempting a DIY roof replacement. While rubber shingles require the same kinds of decking and underlayment as asphalt shingles, it’s a good idea to find a roofer who has specific experience installing rubber shingles.
Rubber shingles have the advantage over asphalt shingles when it comes to life span. Low-end three-tab shingles only last 10 to 15 years, and you need to replace even premium asphalt shingles after 30 years. By contrast, most rubber shingles come with a manufacturer’s warranty of at least 30 years. By some estimates, high-quality rubber shingles can last for 50 to 75 years.
Maintenance and Repair
To some extent, the life span of rubber shingles depends on the local climate, as extreme weather puts substantial wear and tear on any roofing material. However, you can maximize your roof’s longevity by keeping up with maintenance. Fortunately, rubber roof maintenance needs are limited, but it’s still a good idea to coat the rubber with a UV-protective sealant and hose down the roof periodically to rinse off grime and mold spots.
Rubber is also easy to repair. You can cover small holes or splits with weatherstripping tape or fill them with liquid rubber. You can also obtain a patch kit to patch a hole, much like you would with a tire. You can even cover the whole roof with a new coat of sealant if necessary.
One of the main benefits of rubber shingles is their durability in the face of extreme weather conditions. Asphalt shingles tend to loosen in high winds, and impacts from hail or other debris that don’t pierce the shingle can still weaken the fiberglass mat that holds it together. While rubber shingles aren’t indestructible, hail and other blunt debris will bounce off without damaging the shingle itself. Sometimes insurance companies even offer a discount on premiums if you install a new rubber roof because this material is much less likely to sustain damage.
Rubber is also more water-resistant than asphalt shingles. Because rubber doesn’t crack or curl, water can’t penetrate the shingles and cause problems with the underlayment and decking. This means wind is less likely to get under the shingles and tear them. Thus, rubber shingles do well even in areas that are prone to hurricanes. Finally, rubber is fire-resistant, so it’s also a good choice in areas prone to wildfires.
Instead of containing PVC, EPDM, or TPO-like rubber membrane roofing, rubber shingles consist of an average of 80% to 95% recycled materials. Often, this includes recycled tires, plastic, and other composite materials. Many times, the shingles themselves are also recyclable, so they won’t sit forever in a landfill when they reach the end of their life span.
Rubber roofing materials are eco-friendly in other ways, too. Rubber is a good insulator, helping keep heat in the home during the winter and out in the summer. By maintaining a consistent temperature, your home’s HVAC system won’t have to work as hard, saving you money on heating and cooling costs. Additionally, while most rubber roofing is gray, homeowners in warm climates can purchase lighter colors that will reflect some of the sun’s heat, reducing cooling costs.
The appearance of rubber shingles can be divisive. On one hand, manufacturers may produce rubber to look like more high-end materials, including cedar shakes and slate tiles. Not only is it more cost-effective, but also it’s easier to maintain than wood and lighter than natural slate. Repairs are easier and less expensive, and it can be difficult to tell these materials apart from rubber shingles at a distance.
Some homeowners, however, don’t like the look of rubber shingles because they’re not available in as many colors as some other roofing products, and they tend to fade with time. They also show their age much more than traditional roofing materials, such as wood and slate, Plus, rubber shingles tend to develop mold spots over time, though these spots wash off easily. As a result, they may not have as much curb appeal.
Keep in mind, too, that newly installed rubber shingles emit a strong rubber smell, just as tires do. However, popular rubber shingle manufacturer Euroshield says the smell will get weaker over time after being exposed to air and precipitation.
Rubber shingles have several benefits over asphalt shingles, including longevity, weather and impact resistance, and eco-friendliness. However, they require a greater financial investment up-front, and their appearance, while somewhat customizable, isn’t to everyone’s taste.
According to our research, homeowners in climates with extreme weather will get the most benefit from rubber shingles, both in terms of durability and energy efficiency. If you’re in the market for a new roof, contact a licensed roofer to learn more about your rubber shingle options.
roofing-shingles-faq”>Rubber Roofing Shingles FAQ
Are rubber roof shingles worth it?
Rubber roof shingles can be worth the higher up-front cost if your home is often subject to heavy winds and rain, hail, or other extreme weather. Rubber holds up well in these conditions and will outlast asphalt shingles.
What are the disadvantages of rubber shingles?
Rubber shingles cost more than asphalt shingles, both for materials and labor. They also have a strong rubber smell after installation, though this will fade. Further, they tend to show their age more than other shingle types, potentially reducing your home’s curb appeal.
Is a rubber roof cheaper than shingles?
Rubber shingles are more expensive than asphalt shingles when used on sloped roofs. However, rubber membrane roofing, which is only appropriate for flat roofs, tends to cost less per square foot than asphalt shingles.
Are rubber roof shingles good?
Rubber shingles are low-maintenance, long-lasting, and impact-resistant. They are an especially good investment if you’re in an area with severe weather and plan to live in your current home for a while.
How long will a rubber roof last?
A rubber roofing system will last 30 to 50 years.