Types of Roofing Materials: A Guide for Homeowners

By Amanda Lutz Updated February 6, 2024

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Your roof is one of the most important parts of your home, protecting it from moisture, heat, cold, and other environmental elements. But no matter how well you take care of it, your roof will eventually need replacement due to wear or damage.

There are many different roofing materials and styles to choose from. We’ve detailed the various materials available, the cost of installing a new roof, and how to choose the right one for your home and climate.

 


 

Types of Roofing Materials

Depending on where you live, your personal preferences, and your home’s style, you can choose from a few different types of roofing materials. Asphalt shingles are the most common type of roofing material because they work in almost any environment, but other options such as clay, tile, concrete, and metal shingles are also available. The best roofing for you depends on factors such as your location, budget, and the style and structure of your home.

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingle roofs are the most popular option because they’re durable and cost-effective There are two primary types of asphalt shingles: architectural and three-tab.

While there are different grades of asphalt shingles, they’re all composed of a base mat (usually an organic substance such as cellulose, or inorganic material such as glass fibers) coated with asphalt. This makes the tiles durable and able to withstand rain, wind, hail, and other elements in almost any climate. Asphalt shingles are also waterproof, fire resistant, and even protect your home from ultraviolet rays. However, asphalt shingles have a pretty uniform look, so they’re not the best choice if you want a roof that has a unique or high-end appearance.

Clay Tiles

While its popularity has declined in recent years, clay tile is still an aesthetically pleasing roofing option with loads of regional charm. These tiles give your home a unique layered look while offering exceptional durability against wind storms (such as tornadoes and hurricanes), earthquakes, salty air, and even fires. They’re also resistant to insect damage and rot and can last 50 years or more.

Clay tiles are very heavy and require a sturdy roof structure to support their weight. Since they’re layered and individually interlocked, clay tile roofs aren’t suitable for homes with a steep roof pitch. The cost of tile roofing is higher than asphalt or metal roofing, and these roofs may require more frequent repair as individual tiles crack or break.

Concrete Tiles

Another tile option is concrete, which offers similar durability to clay tiles but with a lighter weight. These tiles are incredibly resistant to fires, wind, earthquakes, and more while allowing you to customize the look of your home’s exterior. However, concrete tiles are a bit less durable than clay tiles and may not last quite as long.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofing was previously used primarily as an accent over porches and windows, but full metal roofs are becoming more popular too. Most metal roofs in the country are made of painted steel, though they can also be made of aluminum or copper.

Metal roofs allow for a lot of creativity when designing or remodeling your home, including options for stamped steel, standing seams, or vertical ribs. These roofs are durable, lightweight, and can last longer than other roof types. They also have the highest possible fire resistance rating. However, metal roof installation costs are higher than asphalt options. These roofs can also be dented easily and may be difficult to replace in small sections.

Slate Roofing

Slate tiles are a gorgeous and durable roofing option. These natural stone tiles are some of the highest quality and eco-friendly roofing materials available and work for various weather conditions. They can easily last 100 to 150 years when properly installed in the right conditions.

Slate roofs are extremely fire-resistant and durable against the weather. However, they’re heavy and require a strong structure to support their weight. As a natural stone product, they’re also brittle and can be easily broken, so keep that in mind if you ever need your roof inspected or have other repairs that require someone to walk on your roof.

Tile Roofing

Other roof tile options include ceramic, composite, rubber, or even synthetic materials, all of which can provide an aesthetically pleasing look. The type of material you choose will impact your new roof’s durability and longevity, and certain materials may be better suited to specific climates.

 


 

Factors to Consider When Choosing Roofing Materials

Your home’s overall look may be your priority when choosing a new roofing material, but there are some other factors to keep in mind.

 


 

Signs You Need to Replace Your Roof

Your roof is constantly exposed to harsh elements, and even the strongest materials won’t last forever. You may notice signs over time that it’s time for roof replacement. Here are some common types of roof damage to look out for:

 


 

Our Recommendation

Whether you’re building a new house or updating an existing property, a new roof is a great way to boost curb appeal and protect your home from leaks and water damage. You can choose from many different roofing styles to fit your climate, budget, and design goals. It’s important to weigh all of your options and work with a trusted professional contractor to determine which roofing system is right for you.

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Types of Roofing Materials FAQ

What is the life span of asphalt shingles?

Asphalt shingles last an average of 15 to 30 years. The durability of your shingles depends on the installation quality and your roof design, climate, and the shingles’ specific style and composition.

Are metal roofs suitable for hot climates?

Metal roofs can be a great option for homeowners in hot climates. This material reflects heat and the sun’s ultraviolet rays, allowing for better energy efficiency and reducing your cooling costs in the summer.

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Depending on the layout of your flat or low-slope roof, clay tiles may be an option. You’ll need to consider several important factors, such as your roof’s size and its underlying structure, to determine whether the u003ca href=u0022https://www.architecturaldigest.com/reviews/roofing/flat-roof-replacement-costu0022u003eflat roofu003c/au003e area can support the weight of clay tiles. Since these tiles interlock, it’s also important to ensure the roof’s layout allows for proper waterproofing of your home.

How does the cost of concrete tiles compare to other options?

Concrete tiles cost around $2 to $4 per square foot. This makes them the least expensive roofing tile, behind clay ($3 to $7 per square foot), terracotta ($5 to $10 per square foot), slate ($5 to $30 per square foot), metal ($6 to $15 per square foot), and composite ($7 to $11).

Is slate roofing appropriate for areas with heavy snowfall?

Slate roofing tiles are made of a durable, natural stone that can last for 100 years or more and easily withstands many elements, including heavy snow. If you live in an area that receives a lot of snow, installing ice rails or snow guards may be a wise investment.