If you’re building a new home or just having your roof replaced, you need to consider the different types of roofing materials available to you.
Your roof is crucial to the structural integrity of your home and having to replace it is one of the biggest financial burdens a homeowner can face.
Choosing a sturdy material that adds value to your home and holds up over years of wear and tear is incredibly important.
So, let’s take a look at 9 of the most popular types of roofing materials.
1. Asphalt Shingles
When you think about roofing materials, asphalt shingles are most likely what immediately comes to mind.
They’re the most popular and most common roofing material used in North America due to their effectiveness in all types of environments and generally low cost.
While affordable, asphalt shingles don’t last nearly as long as some of the other materials on this list, needing to be replaced every 20-30 years.
Although some manufacturers say with proper upkeep they’ll last 50 years.
If you’re on a budget, they’re a great way to go, costing only $3.50 to $5.50 per square foot installed.
To note: some high-end asphalt shingles can cost as much as $12 per square foot.
2. Metal Roofing
Metal roofing is one of the most durable roofing materials you can install, lasting up to 80 years.
Its durability comes with a price though, as it will cost you two to three times more than other options—$6 to $18 per square foot installed.
There are a wide variety of metal roofing materials available, from the more cost-effective like galvanized steel to the pricier options like copper.
One thing to keep in mind about lower-cost options is that their shortcomings are more apparent.
For example, these options can be noisy under certain weather conditions and expand in the heat.
The more expensive metal options bring a unique look to your home that can increase its value.
But they can only take so much of a beating, and after decades of dealing with a harsh environment, they can start to take away from the look of your home.
3. Wood Shingles and Shakes
Wood shingles and shakes are one of the more traditional types of roof materials around, giving your house a classic, rustic look.
Wood shingles are thin, wedge-shaped slabs of wood that are produced by precise sawing, and will cost you $4.50 to $9 per square foot installed.
Shakes are produced by splitting wood, and they are thicker wedges with a rougher texture, costing $6.50 to $14 per square foot installed.
This type of roofing is not an option in some areas of the United States. Wood shingles or shakes aren’t allowed in Colorado, for example, because they don’t meet the fire rating requirements of the state.
How long they last depend on the climate they’re installed in.
In relatively dry climates you can expect wood shingles and shakes to last up to 60 years.
In damper climates, you’ll only get about 20-30 years out of them. Maintaining a wooden roof is very labor and time-intensive. Without the consistent required maintenance, the shakes or shingles can become damaged and ineffective.
Slate is one of the most beautiful and durable materials you can install on your roof.
It’s waterproof, fire-resistant, fungus, and mold-resistant, and it has been known to last up to 100 years.
However, it can be expensive to repair, and it can break easily when walked on or if hit by heavy hail.
Slate is also expensive to install, requiring a specialist, which can be difficult to find.
If you decide to install slate shingles or tiles on your roof you can expect to pay between $10 to $30 per square foot, plus installation.
While expensive, it will likely be the only roofing you will ever need to install.
5. Clay Tiles
Clay tiles are made from earthen clays molded into rolled or interlocking shapes and then fired for durability.
They are a popular choice for hot climates like the southern coastal and desert regions.
They are very durable—able to withstand high-speed winds, earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, and other extreme weather conditions.
Tile is an expensive material, costing $10 to $18 per square foot installed, but it will last you upwards of 50 years!
One drawback with clay tiles is that they can add a lot of weight to a home’s structure which can cause issues.
Clay roofing will require extra reinforcement which could increase the cost of your roof replacement.
But they are low maintenance compared to other roofing materials.
6. Concrete Tile
Concrete tiles are similar to clay but are even heavier.
Concrete is a cheaper alternative to clay, costing about $10 to $15 per square foot, but lasts just as long as clay.
Concrete is installed the same way as clay and comes with all of the same advantages in durability.
The heavier nature of concrete means it will also require extra support which will raise installation costs.
It also requires routine maintenance due to concrete’s tendency to absorb water.
A variety of profiles are available though, which give a homeowner a choice of different looks to make their home stand out.
Rubber is a reasonably priced material that can be made to look like other materials including slate, asphalt, and wood shake.
Though it is not as durable as some of these materials, it is cheaper than slate and wood—costing about $3 to $6 per square foot installed, but prices can go up to $14 per square foot depending on the type of rubber chosen.
Rubber roofing material is made from engineered polymers combined with recycled plastic and rubber, making it a great option for those who like to live sustainably.
Though this does give it a unique odor that some might find off-putting. Rubber is another very durable material, lasting over 50 years if properly maintained.
8. Built-Up Roofing (BUR)
Built-up roofing is traditionally used for flat or low-pitched roofs.
BUR systems are constructed with multiple layers of roofing felt saturated with asphalt that is applied hot.
The felt is applied in overlapping layers to form a barrier two to four layers thick, then a layer of crushed stone is poured in hot tar over the top to create a sturdy and impenetrable roof.
It provides great protection against water, UV, and weather, and it is a low-maintenance material.
BUR is fairly inexpensive, costing $2.50 to $5 per square foot installed, and can last anywhere from 20 to 30 years.
9. Composite Shingles
Composite shingles are a lightweight and affordable roofing option, costing only $1.50 to $4.50 per square foot installed.
Much like rubber and concrete, they can be made to mimic the look of other, more expensive tiles like slate and wood shake.
They are an extremely durable roofing option that offers the highest impact and fire ratings and lasts up to 30 years.
Composite shingles are virtually maintenance-free, and if any shingles do need to be replaced it is a fairly easy job.
What Roofing Materials Last the Longest?
If you’re more worried about longevity than you are about price, then you’ll want to go with either slate, metal, or wood.
These roofing materials are incredibly long-lasting in the right conditions with the proper maintenance and care.
They will also significantly add to the value of your home.
If you’re looking for a more affordable option, rubber roofing will be the way to go.
Though you won’t have the same amount of value added to your home as the previously mentioned materials.
Determining the Best Roofing Material for Your Home
Choosing the best roofing materials for your home is based on a few different factors.
The first and most important aspect is your budget as that will take certain materials out of the running due to their cost.
Next, you’ll want to consider your location. Some materials are not ideal for certain areas. To prolong the life of your roof, you’ll want to choose a material that is ideal for your regional location.
Choosing certain materials, like slate, wood shakes, or copper will add to the curb appeal of your home.
This can also increase its resale value, leading to potentially higher bids for the house when you decide to sell it.
Finally, you’ll want to think about how much roof maintenance you can tolerate.
If you don’t like the idea of having to regularly maintain your roof, then you’ll want to go with a low-maintenance material, like metal roofing or composite shingles.
With so many options...what if you pick one that doesn’t end up complimenting your house as much as you’d hoped?
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