Starting a new home construction project? Seeking residential re-roofing services to repair existing damage? No matter your roofing needs, it’s crucial to know which roofing materials are available and which type offers the most protection and value while delivering the look and style you deserve.
Choosing the right roofing materials is key to protecting your home and your investment. It’s also essential for achieving the roof that reflects your personal design preferences and boosts the appearance and value of your home for years to come.
Roofing Materials: Types and What to Know
There are various types of roofing materials out there to match your needs and style. Some of the more popular types include asphalt shingles, metal, clay tiles, slate tiles, synthetic/composite, solar shingles, wood shakes, and a number of eco-friendly roofing options.
Below, we take a closer look at these best roofing materials and what they offer.
Asphalt Shingle Roofs: The Traditional Roofing Option
Asphalt shingles offer easy installation and maintenance. They offer a more traditional appearance to the modern home. They also continue to be the most sought-after type of roofing material used among homeowners and many builders. Individual asphalt shingles provide an easy-to-replace roofing option. When you find a few asphalt shingles damaged by a recent weather event, you can replace those shingles individually, rather than as part of a section of the whole.
There are three main types of asphalt shingles, including 3-Tab shingles, Dimensional shingles and Premium asphalt shingles. 3-Tabs cost the least but have the shortest life span. Dimensional (also known as Architectural) shingles are pricier, come in a variety of colors, and are typically covered by extensive manufacturer warranties (up to 50 years, in some cases). Premium asphalt shingles are the costliest asphalt roofing option and come available in various thicknesses and colors. Of the three options, Premium shingles last the longest.
The asphalt shingles on today’s market are far removed from previous shingle products, as they offer much more in terms of quality, color, and durability. Modern shingles are made with such materials as reinforced fiberglass mats, advanced adhesives, and SureNail strips.
Asphalt shingles aren’t as long-lasting or energy efficient as metal roofing options, but they do offer a moderate level of functionality and savings to many homeowners across the country.
Metal Roofs: A Highly Durable, Energy Efficient, and Eco-Friendly Roofing Option
Metal roofing provides a lifespan and level of durability not commonly found in other roofing materials. Metal roofs protect homes against extreme weather conditions like high winds, never corroding, cracking, or breaking under pressure. They also offer a level of beauty that can add long-term value to your home. Metal roofing is available in anything from copper and aluminum to galvanized steel. Metal roofs come in various shapes, finishes, and colors.
What’s more: one type of metal roofing product, standing seam metal roofs, is manufactured using high-end aluminum or steel. Standing seam systems last for many years and don’t require much maintenance during their lifespan.
There are two main types of metal roofs on the market: shingles and panels. Singles are stamped out of metal templates and either coated with colored granules (also known as stone-coated steel) or painted.
Metal shingles can be customized either as interlaced shingles or to resemble other roofing materials, such as shake or tile.
Another benefit of metal roofs? They’re made of eco-friendly roofing materials, generally consisting of 25% recycled materials when they come off the manufacturer’s floor. They are also 100% recyclable and one of the most sustainable roofing materials produced by the industry.
The durability and sustainability of metal roofing tend to make it a little pricier than other roofing material options. Standing seam metal roof Installation also requires professionals with specialized equipment, tools, and training, which often makes installing metal roofs more expensive than other types of roofing.
That said, installing a high-quality metal roof on your home may be the best decision you make for your most important investment. Where an asphalt roof can crack, break or require replacement in 10, 15, or 20 years, a metal roof may last throughout the entire lifespan of your home, providing a great return on investment. Additionally, the reflective properties of a metal roof–its ability to reflect rather than absorb radiant solar heat–can result in big energy savings, helping trim monthly eclectic bills throughout the year.
Clay Tile Roofs: Low Maintenance & Energy Efficiency
Clay roofs offer a traditional and appealing roofing option for many property owners. Clay roofing tiles are available in a variety of shapes, (fluted, flat, curved, or interlocking) and styles (Riviera, French, Double Roman, Spanish, and a number of other tile types).
There are several key benefits of clay tile roofing. It is extremely durable, (some types can last more than a century) and highly resistant to such conditions as insect damage and rot. Clay tiles also provide an eco-friendly roof option that is both easy to maintain and is energy-efficient. With proper installation, a clay roof can withstand many extreme weather elements, including rain, snow, hail, and high winds.
On the whole, clay roofs come with a higher price tag than asphalt shingles, but this cost is mitigated by the roof’s lengthy lifespan.
Slate Roofs: Beautiful and Highly Durable
Slate roofs are among the longest-lasting roofing options available. A slate roof also provides a beautiful, attention-grabbing appearance from nearly any angle, instantly generating curb appeal. While slate roofs tend to be very heavy, often require home modifications to support their weight, there are modern slate roofing systems available today to help reduce that weight and mitigate the cost of traditional slates. In fact, homeowners now have access to authentic slate roof options that are lighter and more affordable than ever.
Synthetic & Composite Roofs: A Natural Look at Affordable Prices
Growing in popularity, the synthetic and composite type of roofing offers an abundance of options to meet nearly any desired style or home roofing need. Synthetic/composite roof materials are designed to look like natural roofing materials, such as cedar shake, asphalt, and slate.
For those considering synthetic and composite roofing, it’s important to weigh the product’s look with such factors as hail-impact rating, fire rating, and, of course, cost. Though many composite roofing products are rated Class 4 for hail impact, many don’t come with a high fire rating. In fact, some may only have a Class C fire rating, which may not meet the building requirements of your local area.
That said, synthetic/composite shingle roofs are at the higher end of the quality roofing materials scale, which tends to be reflected in the price tag.
Synthetic and composite shingles run the gamut in terms of types of materials. Synthetic shingles may be made of anything from plastic or polyiso to rubber, ceramic, TPO, or something else entirely. The good news is that many types of synthetic roofing include recycled materials, making them more eco-friendly.
Solar Shingle Roofs: A Sleek & Modern Design that Generates Power for Your Home
Solar shingle roofing is one of the latest types to enter the roofing material market. While early solar shingle technology quickly failed due to efficiency and maintenance issues, new solar shingles from Tesla and other innovators now provide a reliable, long-lasting solar shingle for roofs option that can deliver power and protection for years to come.
Tesla solar shingles are pretty durable, though installation and maintenance can often present a challenge. On the other hand, a recently-released solar shingle by leading roofing material manufacturer GAF is both easy to put in and maintain over time. This recent GAF release is making solar single roof system installation more accessible and affordable to homeowners. A recent GAF estimate lists their new solar shingle roof system will cost about twice as much as a modern asphalt roof.
In most cases, solar shingles are placed directly on the deck of the roof, creating a sleek, streamlined look for the homeowner’s roofing system. These shingles not only help generate solar power for the homeowner, but they also come with a Class A fire rating and a Class 4 hail-impact rating, providing a high level of protection immediately after installation. Additionally, solar shingle materials weigh less than standard shingles, making them relatively easy to install.
Wood Shake and Shingle Roofs: Warm, Natural Beauty for Your Home
Cedar wood shingles have very low fire resistance, one of the main reasons many wood shake roofs have been replaced with metal, asphalt, and tile shingles over the last few decades. And while there are ways to treat cedar shake to meet the Class A fire standard, wood shingles are also banned in many areas, immediately eliminating this roofing option for millions across the country.
Cedar shingle roofs provide timeless beauty and a level of durability many homeowners love. Still, the flammability and higher cost of cedar shingle roof installation make this product rather prohibitive, forcing many to look for other, more viable roofing options.
One such alternative is composite roofing, shingles designed to mirror the appearance of the cedar shake aesthetic. Composite products provide the look and feel of cedar shake without the extreme fire danger, come in various colors, and are eco-friendly (some are comprised of to 80% recycled material).
Eco-Friendly Roofing Options
These days, homeowners have an array of eco-friendly roofing materials to choose from, including:
White roof material. Installing a white roof on your home helps keep your home cool in the summer. It also provides a reflective roofing surface that remains cool and helps bring down costly AC bills no matter where you happen to live.
Green roof material. Green roofs are lightweight and layered roofing systems that make it easy to grow low-maintenance plants without damaging the roofing substructure.
Rubber roof material. A rubber roof provides durability and lasting protection against the elements. Made of repurposed materials, such as old tires, rubber roofing has an amazing lifespan.
Installing a clay roof or standing seam metal roof also provide environmentally friendly roofing material options to help reduce your carbon footprint.