How to Choose the Best Roofing for Your Home
Lee has over two decades of hands-on experience remodeling, fixing, and improving homes, and has been providing home improvement advice for over 13 years.
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Updated on 09/25/22
Reviewed byKelly Bacon
Kelly Bacon is a licensed general contractor with over 40 years of experience in construction, home building and remodeling, and commercial building. He is a member of The Spruce Home Improvement Review Board.
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Fact checked byAlexandra Kay
There are many types of roofing materials to choose from, including asphalt composite shingles, metal shingles, wood shakes, and clay tile. And rather than simply going with the option you previously had, you might want to consider a longer-lasting or more modern roofing material. Choosing the right type of roofing requires that you weigh appearance, longevity, roofing material prices, and structural issues.
Here are 12 types of roofing materials to consider when it comes time to replace your roof.
Click Play to Learn About Roofing Materials for Your House
How Much Does Replacing a Roof Cost?
The cost of a roof replacement can vary widely. The three main factors it depends on are the type of roofing material you choose, the price of labor, and the size and shape of your roof. The average cost of a roof replacement nationwide is $8,314. The typical cost range is between roughly $5,500 and $11,000.
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- Average cost of rolled roofing: $1.50 to $2.00 per square foot
Rolled roofing material is the mainstay of low-slope residential roofs as well as outbuildings like shops, sheds, and other utilitarian structures. Rolled roofing consists of long rolls of mineral-impregnated and asphalt-impregnated material topped with mineral granules. Each roll is about 100 square feet of roofing and about 3 feet wide.
Rolled roofing is one of the cheapest roofing materials, but it doesn't offer much aesthetic value. The large, thin strips offer a fast and convenient way to cover a sloped-roof building like a workshop where appearances aren't important. It can be applied either with the torch-down method or with roofing nails.
On average, rolled roofing lasts about 5 to 8 years before it needs to be replaced.
02 of 12
Built-Up Roofing (BUR)
- Average cost of built-up roofing: $2.50 to $5 per square foot
Built-up roofing (BUR) is one of the oldest types of roofing materials for flat roofs or low-pitch roofs. BUR systems are constructed with several layers of roofing felt impregnated 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 finely crushed stone is embedded in hot tar over the top to create a very durable and impenetrable roof.
A properly installed BUR roof can last 20 to 30 years.
03 of 12
- Average cost of membrane roofing: $4 to $8 per square foot
Another type of roofing material for flat roofs or very low-pitch roofs is a membrane roof. There are several types of membrane that can be used, including:
- Neoprene (polychloroprene)
- EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer)
- PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
- Chlorinated polyethylene and chlorosulfonated polyethylene sheets
- Polymer-modified bitumens
One of the best membranes is EPDM. EPDM is a synthetic roofing material often referred to as "rubber roofing." It is similar to rolled asphalt roofing in that it is applied in large sheets that limit the number of seams where water can infiltrate.
The lifespan is typically 20 to 35 years or more when the roof is properly maintained.
04 of 12
Asphalt Composite Shingles
- Average cost of asphalt composite shingles: $1.50 to $4.50 or more per square foot
Asphalt composite shingles are the most popular roofing material in North America. Made from a fiberglass base topped with asphalt and mineral granules or cellulose covered with asphalt, these three-tab shingles are an all-around good choice for most home roofing needs. The fiberglass asphalt shingles are a fairly lightweight but also durable roofing material. The organic asphalt shingles are heavier but still durable. Composite shingles excel at flexing and adapting to a roof's movements due to expansion and contraction.
They typically come with a 20- to 30-year warranty, and replacing individual shingles that are damaged is a fairly easy job. Plus, virtually every roofing company is familiar with installing these singles.
Depending on the quality of the shingles and the conditions, the lifespan of the roof can range from 12 to 30 years.
Continue to 5 of 12 below.
05 of 12
Standing Seam Metal Roofing
- Average cost of standing seam metal roofing: $10 to $16 per square foot
The most common type of metal roof is the standing seam roof—so named because the aluminum or steel roofing panels meet in raised seams that interlock to keep moisture out. Metal roofs of all kinds are increasingly popular in regions with heavy snowfall or where there is danger of wildfires, as this durable roofing material is fireproof.
Metal is also a long-lasting type of roof, and it's recyclable when it finally does wear out. But installation requires special skills, and not every roofing company is prepared to install a standing seam metal roof.
Metal roofs commonly last 30 to 50 years, but some have been known to last 75 years.
06 of 12
- Average cost of metal shingles: $8 to $16 or so per square foot
For homeowners who do not like the look of standing seam metal roofs but want the advantages of metal, there are steel or aluminum shingles or shakes available.
Made from stamped metal and finished with either a high-quality baked-on coating or mineral granules, metal shingles can be fabricated to look very much like traditional asphalt shingles, wooden shakes, or even slate or clay tiles. They are an excellent choice where appearance is a critical concern but you still want a durable and long-lasting roofing material.
Metal shingles and shakes can last 30 to 50 years.
07 of 12
- Average cost of wood shingles/shakes: $4.50 to $9 per square foot (shingles); $6.50 to $14 per square foot (shakes)
Wood roofs are very attractive, but they are also quite expensive and have limitations. They are not as long-lived as some other roofing materials, and they are a poor choice in areas that get lots of moisture or where wildfires are a danger. Still, they are among the most attractive roofing materials, which makes them a popular choice for luxury homes.
Although both are made from natural wood, usually cedar (typically found on Cape Cod-style homes) or redwood, there is a difference between wood shakes and shingles. Shingles are typically thin, wedge-shaped slabs of wood that are produced by precise sawing. Shakes are produced by splitting wood, and they are thicker wedges with a rougher texture.
Longevity depends on circumstances and maintenance. In relatively dry climates, a wood shingle or shake roof can last 60 years; in damp conditions, you might only get 20 to 30 years from the roof.(Video) 12 Roofing Materials To Consider For Your House 🛋️
08 of 12
- Average cost of clay tile: $10 to $18 per square foot (though more uncommon ceramic tiles can run as much as $30 per square foot)
Clay tile is made from earthen clays molded into rolled or interlocking shapes and fired for hardness. It is often left unglazed, with the characteristic reddish-orange color. Or it can be glazed and fired to form ceramic roofing tiles.
Clay tile is a good roofing material for hot climates or where salt air is present. This is why these roofs are often seen in Southern coastal regions or desert regions.
Clay is one type of roof that lasts the longest, thanks to it being one of the most durable roofing materials. You can get more than a century from a clay tile roof.
Continue to 9 of 12 below.
09 of 12
- Average cost of concrete tile: $10 to $20 or more per square foot
Concrete tile is an alternative to clay tile, with similar installation techniques and advantages. But you'll likely pay slightly less for a concrete tile roof.
Concrete tiles are molded from standard sand-mix concrete colored to whatever hues are desired. A variety of profiles are available, some that resemble rolled clay tiles and others that are low-profile resembling wood shakes. Concrete tile is sometimes finished with a decorative coating.
It is a very heavy and durable roofing material, making it a good choice in high-wind regions. Life expectancy is 50 years or longer.
10 of 12
- Average cost of slate shingles: $10 to $30 per square foot, depending on hard or soft slate
A slate roof is an attractive roofing material commonly seen on luxury homes. Slate is also a type of roof that lasts the longest. There are slate roofs hundreds of years old that are still functioning.
True slate roofing is just as it sounds: authentic, thin sheets of real stone. Because slate has a tendency to cleave off in thin sheets, it is easy to quarry, making it ideal for roofing. But installing slate is a highly specialized skill, and qualified installers can be hard to find.
If you opt for a slate roof, it will likely be the last roof replacement you'll ever need to do. A slate tile roof often lasts 75 to 150 years or more.
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Synthetic (Rubber) Slate Tile
- Average cost of synthetic (rubber) slate tile: $9 to $12 or so per square foot
Synthetic slate shingles are a surprisingly convincing stand-in for natural slate. But this is a more lightweight roofing material, constructed from engineered polymers combined with recycled plastic and rubber.
From the ground, it can be virtually impossible to distinguish this engineered roofing from natural slate. But the lighter synthetic material is a viable option for houses that cannot support the heavy weight of natural slate.
Although not as durable as true stone, synthetic slate usually comes with a very good warranty—up to 50 years.
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- Average cost of a living roof: Varies widely
Moss is usually regarded as a bad sign when found on your roof. But when properly planned for, moss and other living plant materials provide an effective roofing material that gives back to the earth.
A truly unorthodox type of roofing material, a green or living roof nevertheless holds much promise.It can remove pollutants from the air, provide thermal insulation to your house, absorb rainwater, and even allow you to grow plants.
To create a green roof, you first install a layer of waterproof membrane and provide adequate drainage. A green roof can be "intensive," meaning capable of supporting large plants and people, or "extensive," meaning it is thin and intended only for lightweight growth such as moss. Either way, living roofs will require regular maintenance to keep them lasting for a long time.
Some building codes may not allow this type of roof. Check with your local building department before committing to a green or living roof.
Best Roofing Companies
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
Estimating the Environmental Effects of Green Roofs: A Case Study in Kansas City, Missouri. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Using Green Roofs to Reduce Heat Islands. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
What type of roofing is cheapest? ›
The Simple Answer Is… Asphalt shingles! These are some of the lowest-cost materials on the market for roofing.How much do different types of roofs cost? ›
|Roofing Material||Cost per Square Foot (including installation)|
|Basic asphalt shingles||$4.25–$4.95|
|Architectural/premium asphalt shingles||$4.50–$8.25|
|Flat roofing materials (rubber, PVC, etc.)||$5.50–$7.50|
The most expensive type of roofing material is slate.
For labor and materials, you can expect the cost of a slate roof to start around $15.00 per square foot and has the potential to get up to around $30.00 or more per square foot.
Roofing material that lasts the longest are concrete, clay or slate tiles. These materials significantly outperform other natural products like wood shakes or any manufactured roofing materials including asphalt shingles and metal roofing. Although these materials have a good lifespan, they are not as durable.What is the easiest roofing to install? ›
Asphalt shingles are popular because they blend looks, longevity, and a reasonable price, and they're typically the easiest to install, saving you money on labor costs as well. Specialty roofing materials like slate, tile, and metal tend to cost much more, but they can also last much longer—and they look nicer.How do I estimate the cost of a new roof? ›
The cost of installing asphalt shingles on a roof ranges from approximately $4.90 to $8.40 per square foot. The average cost of installation for a cedar roof is between $2 and $3 per square foot. The average cost to install a flat roof is between $4 and $5 per square foot.What makes a roof more expensive? ›
Roofing materials aren't cheap, especially if you have a large or complex roof, but professional installation is what boosts the expense. Labor often accounts for 40% to 50% of the cost, Miller says, largely because a lack of skilled roofers has driven up rates.How much does it cost to replace 1000 sq ft of roof? ›
Average cost to replace a roof based on house size:
1,000 square feet: $4,000 to $5,500. 1,100 square feet: $4,200 to $6,000. 1,200 square feet: $4,500 to $6,500. 1,500 square feet: $5,500 to $8,000.
The most durable types of roofing are slate and clay tiles but they're more expensive than materials like metal or wood. Functional roofing alternatives like green roofs and solar shingles are among the most expensive types.What type of roof panels are best? ›
Aluminum is the most popular type of corrugated roofing due to the fact that it's less expensive than either steel or copper. While steel and copper are stronger metals, the corrugated shape strengthens the aluminum sheets and results in a durable, long-lasting and affordable roof.
What is the most popular roofing? ›
The most common residential roofing material used in the United States, asphalt shingles are popular because they are economical and easy to install. These shingles can be reinforced with fiberglass or organic materials (cellulose) without changing the appearance of the shingle.What type of roof keeps house the coolest? ›
Cool option: Wood shingles and shakes are naturally “cool colored” materials. Polymer shingles (also known as synthetic or composite shingles) are formed of polymer shaped to resemble asphalt shingles, wood shingles, wood shakes, slate, clay tiles, or concrete tiles. They are overlapped to cover the roof.What color roof lasts the longest? ›
Lighter colored shingles might be better for longevity than dark colored shingles because of the way they react to light and heat.What is the best roof material for heavy rain? ›
Metal roofs feature a system of interlocking panels that protect the house and provide full coverage from and resistance to the elements. Unlike other roofing materials, metal is installed with fewer seams, giving water and moisture less room for intrusion. That makes it the best roof for a rainy climate.What is Lifetime roof called? ›
Slate. The longest lasting roof is not manufactured at all, it's a natural material. Slate roofs are fireproof and nearly indestructible (although slate is brittle, so avoid walking on a slate roof). A hard slate roof can last up to 200 years, while soft slate will last only about a century.When roofing what goes on first? ›
Starter shingles are a pre-cut row of roofing material that goes underneath the first course of shingles before they're installed. It makes sure that there's roofing material between the joints where the shingles butt against each other on the edges of your roof.How much should I save for a new roof? ›
The national average cost to replace a roof is around $8,000, with most people spending in the range of $5,500 to $11,000. The two largest variables you'll deal with on a job like this are the square footage of your home (and thus, your roof), and the type of roofing material you choose.How much does a 17 square roof cost? ›
Know your roof replacement materials
Asphalt tends to be the contemporary go-to roofing option: It offers many benefits in that it's cost-effective (prices average around $2,500 for a roof of 17 squares — coverage for a 2,200 sq. -ft. house, the average U.S. home size), easy to install and can last for a generation.
If you're on a tight budget, asphalt shingles are going to be the most cost-effective roofing material for your upcoming roof replacement. While asphalt is the cheapest roofing material, there are 3 different types of asphalt shingles that vary in price and affect how much you'll spend on your roof replacement.How do you negotiate a roof? ›
- Request a detailed roof inspection. During a contingency period, it's important to have an inspector thoroughly examine the property. ...
- Discuss with your agent. ...
- Make your case. ...
- Research quality roofers in your area. ...
- Request an amendment to the purchase agreement.
What color roof adds value to home? ›
If you're someone who needs a more technical answer, this article explains that roofs with good resale value tend to be neutral-colored. This includes tan, brown, black, and gray.How much does it cost to shingle a 1500 square foot house? ›
|Roof Area||Cost of Shingles|
|1,000 square feet||$910 - $1,100|
|1,500 square feet||$1,400 - $1,600|
|1,750 square feet||$1,600 - $1,850|
|2,000 square feet||$1,810 - $2,110|
Without a drip edge, water may end up beneath the shingles and may cause damage to various parts of the home. Though your home may not have originally had a drip edge installed, drip edges are now required by most building codes across North America to protect homes from damage.What is the best roof for extreme weather? ›
Metal roofing is a great choice for homes in places with extreme winter weather. Snow and ice slide down metal roofs, relieving any worries about standing water on the roof. Metal roofs with standing seam panels and rib panels are among the most resilient and weather-resistant roofing systems on the market.What damages roof the most? ›
Next to wind, rain and snow lead the list of common causes of roof damage. Leaks are reportedly the most frequent issue that homeowners face, and it is usually because of extensive snow or rain.
Metal roofs might not be the most attractive choice to some homeowners, but it's the safest, most secure option available. Living in a hurricane-prone area like Florida requires being prepared for high winds. A metal roof can weather hurricane-force winds up to 160 mph, making it the most wind-resistant solution.What is the best thickness for roof? ›
O. 35 to 0.40mm thickness is best for general walling projects and medium roofings like small or medium sized factories. 0.40 to 0.47mm thickness can be used for medium-to large roofing projects such as factories and buildings with high quality constructions.What is the longest lasting metal panel roof material? ›
Considered to be the grandfather of metal roofing, copper roofs have been used for centuries around the world. Copper is an extremely long-lasting metal that in ideal environments, can last well over 200+ years.What is better than roof shingles? ›
Metal roofing is durable and routinely lasts 2-4 times longer than shingles. Homeowners like the idea of buying only one more roof in their life instead of potentially several. Metal roofing outperforms shingles in cases of hail and other severe weather events.What is the most commonly used residential roofing material? ›
Asphalt shingles are the most common roofing materials in America because they're effective in all environmental conditions.
What is the latest roofing? ›
Synthetic materials are proving to be as popular in 2022. They're a good fit for homeowners who want a more durable product that replicates the wood texture and natural color of traditional asphalt shingles or cedar shakes. Synthetic roofing material is polymer based and made from plastic and rubber.Is it cheaper to get a metal roof or shingles? ›
Not only do the metal panels themselves cost more than asphalt shingles, but a metal roof also requires more skill and labor to install. You can actually expect the cost of a metal roof to be more than double or triple the cost of an asphalt shingle roof.What is the cheapest most durable roofing material? ›
Plain and simple, the absolute cheapest roofing material based on cost alone is asphalt shingles. However, some other options are more expensive at the initial cost but will last longer, such as wood shingles, metal shingles, slate shingles, and solar glass shingles.Which is cheaper roll roofing or shingles? ›
Roll roofing is the cheapest roofing material as you'll pay less than a dollar per square foot. Each roofing has its pros and cons. For example, cedar roofing has fantastic insulating properties, but it's the most expensive of the bunch. Meanwhile, asphalt shingles are cheaper but may only last 15 years.Are shingles cheaper than metal roofing? ›
Shingle roofs are cheaper up front.
Metal roofs generally can run from $120 to $900 per 100 square feet (one 10-foot by 10-foot area, or a “square” of material), while asphalt shingles will be between $100 and $200 per 100 square feet. Its installation will also run you more for metal since it's a more specialized job.
Do Metal Roofs Leak More Than Shingles? If installed incorrectly, metal roofs have the potential to leak more than shingles. However, if you find an experienced contractor who can install it correctly, metal roofs shed snow and ice to prevent moisture buildup.Can you put a metal roof directly over shingles? ›
In almost every case, the answer is yes, you can lay down a new metal roof over an existing shingle roof. This is one of the many reasons metal roofs keep growing in popularity – their installation doesn't require completely tearing off the existing roof, which is a time-consuming and expensive job.Does metal roof decrease home value? ›
Increased Home Resale Value
A metal roof can improve a home's resale value by up to 6% compared to a home with an asphalt-shingle roof. Additionally, a report by Remodeling magazine shows a metal roof has a 61% return on investment.
The most durable types of roofing are slate and clay tiles but they're more expensive than materials like metal or wood. Functional roofing alternatives like green roofs and solar shingles are among the most expensive types. Replacing an old roof is one of the best and most profitable ways to invest in a home.Which roofing material is so durable that it can last for hundreds of years? ›
Slate. A slate roof can last between seventy-five and a hundred and fifty years. Slate is the most costly and the most durable of the durable roofing materials.
How long will roll roofing last? ›
Rolled roofing materials are popular for homeowners looking to replace their own flat roof. It's known for its ease of installation, but it's lifespan is short with an expectancy of only 5-15 years and no manufacturer warranty.Do you need underlayment for rolled roofing? ›
Roll roofing does not require underlayment, but it's well worth the added effort and cost to install. Roof underlayment is an extra layer of protection against the rain, snow and other things that lead to excessive water.How long do rolled shingles last? ›
The average lifespan of asphalt roll roofing is 5 to 10 years. With proper maintenance, you can expect to get the maximum life from your asphalt roll roof.How much does it cost to roof a 1200 sq ft house? ›
Average cost to replace a roof based on house size:
1,100 square feet: $4,200 to $6,000. 1,200 square feet: $4,500 to $6,500. 1,500 square feet: $5,500 to $8,000.
- It Is Restricted By Some Building Code.
- Problems With Shingles May Affect The New Roofing.
- Moisture Can Become Trapped.
- May Void Your Warranty.