Whether in the market for residential re-roofing or new construction, it’s important to have a good handle on the different roofing materials available today in order to get years of value and what you want. The right roofing materials will help you protect your home, one of the largest investments you will make. You also want the roof to reflect your personal design aesthetic as it’s an integral component to the overall look of your house.
Types of Roofing Material
Popular roofing materials include everything from metal, asphalt shingles, slate tiles, clay tiles, wood shakes, composite/synthetic, solar shingles and eco-friendly roofing options. We’ll go through several of the best roofing materials available and their attributes.
Metal Roofs: Durable, Eco Friendly, Energy Efficient
Metal roofing is incredibly durable and long-lasting and protects against the elements such as extreme winds. Metal roofs are so strong they won’t crack, corrode, or break under pressure from high-speed winds. They also look good. You can choose from tin, zinc, aluminum, copper, or galvanized steel in an array of colors, finishes and even shapes. In addition, standing seam metal roofs, a type of metal roofing product, are made of high-quality steel or aluminum and have a long service life with little maintenance.
There are two major types of metal roofs: panels and shingles. Panels can be standing seam with hidden fasteners or corrugated with exposed fasteners. Shingles are stamped from metal and either painted or covered with colored granules (usually referred to as stone-coated steel). Metal Shingles can be a custom shape with the singles interlaced from layer to layer or stamped to resemble shake or other materials.
Metal roofs are also made of eco-friendly roofing materials. They typically consist of at least 25% recycled materials and are 100% recyclable themselves, making them among the most sustainable roofing materials on the market.
It’s important to note that metal roofing tends to come with a higher price tag than other roofing materials, such as asphalt shingle roofs. Because of the specialized training, knowledge, tools, and equipment required, installation labor is also more expensive than for other types of roofing.
However, while a traditional asphalt shingle roof may need to be replaced over the course of your home’s lifespan, a high-quality metal roof may be the only roof your home ever needs so you can recoup your initial investment. Homeowners also benefit from having an energy-efficient roof. The money spent on installing this type of roof can be recouped through savings in monthly electric bills due to the roof’s reflective properties. Metal roofs reflect solar radiant heat rather than absorbing it, which is beneficial all year, but especially during the summer months.
Asphalt Shingle Roofs: Traditional Option, Easy to Install
Asphalt shingles are affordable, and easy to install and maintain, and provide a traditional look to a home. In fact, they are the most popular type of roofing material utilized. As a roofing option, individual asphalt shingles are easily replaced. If a weather event damages a few shingles, you only need to replace those shingles.
What’s more, today’s asphalt shingles have come a long way from past iterations and offer more resiliency than before. Modern asphalt shingles are constructed with reinforced fiberglass mats, SureNail strips, high-tech adhesives, and advanced Class 4 impact resistance on an SBS base.
When compared to metal roofing, asphalt shingles are not as long-lasting and or an energy-efficient option. However, for many homeowners asphalt shingle roofing offers a good balance of affordability and functionality.
Slate Roofing: Long Lasting and Beautiful
A slate roof is among the long-lasting roofs on the market. These roofs are also beautiful and eye-catching from every angle, raising your home’s curb appeal. Slate roofs can be incredibly heavy with homes built or modified to be able to carry their weight. The good news is that there are slate-roofing systems available today that reduce the weight of traditional heavy block slate. You can now have a genuine slate roof that is lightweight and affordable.
Clay Tiles Roofing: Energy Efficient, Low Maintenance
A clay roof is traditional and attractive for many homeowners. You can select from many roofing tiles in different shapes — from curved to flat, fluted, or interlocking. Clay roofs also come in different styles, including Spanish, Double Roman, French, Riviera, and other types of tiles.
Clay tile roofing is long-lasting (can last more than 100 years) and impervious to rot and insect damage. You also get an eco-friendly roof that is energy efficient and low maintenance. When installed properly, a clay roof can withstand rain, snow, wind, and hail. Clay roofs cost more than asphalt shingles but this can be offset by the long life of the roof.
Wood Shingle and Shake Roofing: Timeless Beauty
Due to their low fire resistance, roofing comprised of cedar wood shingles has been replaced over the years by metal, tile, and asphalt shingle roofs. In addition, wood shingle roofs are prohibited in certain jurisdictions. Homeowners have loved the beauty and timeless look along with the durability and energy efficiency that comes with a cedar shingle roof. But wood shingles are more costly than asphalt roofing to install and flammability is indeed an issue.
This is where composite roofing shingles that mimic the look of cedar shakes step in. You get the look and feel of a cedar shake roof with Class A fire ratings. The shingles come in any color or custom color combination and are environmentally friendly with some shingles using up to 80% recycled materials including post-industrial rubber and plastic.
Composite and Synthetic Roofing: Natural Beauty Without All the Cost
This is type of roofing materials is the area we have seen the most growth in new options. These roof shingles are made from composite and synthetic materials to resemble other natural materials like slate and cedar shake. When deciding on composite/synthetic shingles, the buyer needs to balance the aesthetics of the product, the fire rating, hail-impact rating and price. While many of the products in this range offer Class 4 hail-impact rating, many do not have the same fire class rating with some only have a class “C” fire rating. Class “A” fire rating is usually required in forest fire-prone areas. Composite/synthetic shingles are considered a premium product and the price of these products reflects this.
Composite/synthetic shingles are made from many different types of materials including rubber, TPO, plastic, polyiso, ceramic and more. Many also include recycled material which makes them more environmentally friendly.
Solar Shingles: Modern Sleek Look With the Benefit of Generating Solar Power
Solar shingles are one of the newest entries in this material lineup. Early systems in this category failed because of the efficiency of the solar panel and serviceability over time. Tesla was one of the first to offer a durable and reliable solar shingle for roofs that can provide solar power from your home for years. While Tesla’s shingles are durable, installation is very intensive and maintenance can be difficult. GAF, the world’s largest roofing material manufacturer, recently released its solar shingle, which is easy to install and maintain bringing down the cost of a new solar shingle roof system. GAF estimates that their solar shingle roof system will cost about double the price of a standard asphalt roof.
These solar shingles are installed directly to the roof deck providing a modern sleek look for the roofing system. Not only do they provide solar power for your house but they also provide Class 4 hail- impact ratings and Class “A” fire ratings. The solar shingles weigh slightly less than a standard shingle and should be just as easy for roofers to handle.
It does take more solar shingles than solar panels to form a roof but it’s not less efficient or more costly.
Eco Friendly Roofing Options
You have many eco-friendly roofing materials available today to help reduce your carbon footprint, including:
- Rubber roofing: Worn-out tires have been repurposed and used as roofing material. A rubber roof is durable against natural elements and has a lengthy life span.
- Green roof: A green roof is a lightweight, layered roofing system that allows virtually maintenance-free plants to top a waterproofed substructure.
- White roof: A white roof can help keep your home cool. White roofs (or any lighter colored roof) are more reflective and don’t retain heat as well. As a result, your home will remain cool and you can cut down on air conditioning bills.
In addition, as mentioned above, a standing seam metal roof and clay roof are also eco-friendly roofing material options.
There are many factors that go into choosing the right roofing materials, including whether you’re doing roof replacement or new construction, the durability and longevity of the roof, its resiliency to natural disasters and local conditions, its energy efficiency, the cost, maintenance, and weight of the roof, and whether the materials used will complement the style of your house.