Roofing Material Types: Roofing Materials to Consider for Your Home

September 22, 2021

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There are many roofing material types available for homeowners today, in addition to standard asphalt shingles. Different roofing materials might mean improved curb appeal for your house, while some materials are so durable that they can be the last roof you’ll ever need to have installed!

Popular roofing material types for homes include:

  •   Asphalt shingles
  •   Metal
  •   Slate
  •   Clay tiles
  •   Wood shakes
  •   Cement fiber
  •   Plastic

There is no right or wrong answer as to which roofing material types are right for your home, as every material has its own pros and cons. The best way to choose a roofing material is to research each option and then decide what fits your home’s style as well as your needs and budget.

roofing material types

You can also discuss your choices with a roofing contractor near you, as he or she can offer some specific advice about roof materials for your home. Their advice will help you choose a material that you’ll appreciate for many years to come!

The Best Roofing Material Types for Homes

Check out some added details about various roofing material types for homes so you can choose the right option for your property. As with any building material or update, remember that you shouldn’t choose based on price alone! Investing in costlier yet more durable roofing can mean fewer repairs and installations over the life of homeownership.

Asphalt shingles

Asphalt shingles are a popular choice with homeowners, no doubt because they’re one of the most affordable roofing materials on the market. Most if not all roofing contractors are also qualified to install asphalt shingles, while certain other roofing materials might require special skills and tools.

Homeowners might also replace a few missing shingles on their own, while damage to metal, slate, and other such tiles often requires the services of a professional roofer. Asphalt shingles also work well with just about any home style and décor, and today they are available in a wider range of colors than ever before.

The downside of asphalt shingles is that they might be the least durable option! While many manufacturers warranty their shingles to last 30 years, excessive weather conditions, branches scraping on the roof, DIY power washing, and other extremes can shorten shingle lifespan to 20 years or even less.

The smaller size of asphalt shingles can also make them more likely to blow away in a storm or high winds. Asphalt shingles are also quite heavy, making them a poor option for installing a new roof over an existing roof.

Metal residential roofing

Metal is quickly becoming a popular roofing option for residential homes since the material is very durable and fire-resistant. Long metal panels bolted to a roof are also less likely to fly away in a storm than other materials.

Metal roofing also doesn’t get brittle and then crumble or crack, as do asphalt shingles and some clay tiles. The slick surface of metal also encourages water, snow, and ice runoff, reducing the risk of roof damage caused by the weight of heavy snow and ice.

metal roofing

Homeowners also appreciate that metal is easily recyclable, making this a very eco-friendly roofing option! Many roofers also suggest upgrading to metal if you want to add a roofing layer over existing shingles since metal is lightweight and easy to fabricate.

While metal roofing is typically one of the most expensive options for homeowners, it can also last 50 to 60 years if not even indefinitely! Some historic homes and other structures around the world boast metal roofs that are well over 100 years old. While your metal roof installation might not last that long, a metal roof can sometimes outlast a homeowner, making it quite possibly the last roof you’ll ever need to purchase.

Slate roofing

Slate is a natural stone so that every individual tile will offer a slight variation in color, giving a home a stunning appearance many homeowners love. Natural slate stone is also very fire-resistant, and the heavyweight means that slate tiles are not likely to blow away in a storm.

Since slate is a natural stone, it is also very durable and can last some 50 to 60 years if not longer. However, it is very heavy and not meant for adding over another roofing layer.

Your home’s roof rafters and framing might also need added bracing to hold up the weight of a slate roof. Not every roofer is experienced with slate repairs and installation, so you might also need to pay added costs for a specialty roofer if you choose slate.

Clay tiles

Natural clay is very water-resistant, which is why clay tile roofing is often found in tropical areas or for homes close to a water feature. Clay is also an excellent roofing material choice if your house is in an area with lots of heavy rainfall.

While clay is also very durable, it might not blend well with modern homes or those with a strong exterior wall color. The heavy material might also need added bracing before installation and isn’t typically a good choice for adding over an existing roof.

Wood shakes

Split wood tiles are more durable than homeowners might realize and offer a rustic look that works well with many homes. One downside to wood is that it’s not as fire-resistant as other materials, so it’s not often recommended in areas where lightning strikes are a risk.

Many wood materials are lightweight so they’re an excellent choice for older homes that cannot support heavier roofing types. Wood is also very eco-friendly and easy to recycle, and can also help improve overall air quality!

Cement fiber

Cement fiber roofing is created from a mixture of sand, cellulose fibers, and Portland cement. Rather than looking like concrete walkways, fiber cement is often stamped and stained so that it mimics shingles, metal, slate, and many other high-end materials.

Fiber cement mixtures are very fire resistant and lightweight and are typically one of the most affordable roofing material types on the market. However, the material is somewhat brittle so that homeowners should avoid walking on its surface, and roofers should use crawl boards, ladders, and other tools for repairs and replacement.


Plastic roofing is relatively new to the residential roofing market so it’s difficult to note how long it might last! The material is very lightweight and durable, and water-resistant. Plastic roofing is also cheaper than many other roofing options, but not all roofers know how to install or repair plastic roofs.

What Is the Cheapest Roof Material?

asphalt roofing shingles

Typically asphalt shingles are the cheapest roof material for an installation. However, this doesn’t mean that they’re the most cost-effective choice over time. What does this mean?

Consider that asphalt shingles might last around 20 to 25 years before they need full replacing, while a costlier option such as metal usually lasts around 50 to 60 years at a minimum. If you were to invest in new shingles now, you would probably need a new roof 25 years from now, and then another new roof 50 years from now.

If you were to purchase a metal roof now instead of asphalt shingles, you probably wouldn’t need another new roof for 50 years. In other words, you might pay for 3 or 4 asphalt shingle roofs over the lifetime of just one or two metal roofs! Since asphalt shingles are also more likely to blow away in a storm or high winds or suffer damage from inclement weather and tree branches, roof repairs can also be more costly over time.

Expensive Roofing Materials

Slate is typically the most expensive roofing material, often costing up to 10 times the price of mid-range asphalt shingles. Slate typically also requires a specialty roofing contractor for installation and repairs and added bracing to hold its weight, which then adds to your overall roofing costs.

While slate might be the most expensive roofing material on the market, note that it can last 50 to 60 years if not even 100 years or more! Many historic buildings have slate roofs that are decades old, including:

  • Cambridge University
  • Oxford University
  • The Cobh Cathedral in Ireland
  • The Walt Disney residence in Los Angeles
  • The Rockefeller Mansion in New York

Slate is an excellent choice for gothic or renaissance style architecture, and for adding some stately style to a property. Natural slate is also fully recyclable and also needs few if any specialty coatings, making it a very eco-friendly roofing material type.

Durable Roofing Material Types

Metal and slate are typically considered the most durable roofing materials, as both are fire-resistant, water-resistant, and not likely to blow away in a storm. Metal and slate can also last 50 to 60 years if not indefinitely, as said.

While both metal and slate offer stunning visual appeal, note that metal can be powder coated, a process similar to painting. If your home is painted a unique color or the natural gray tone of slate won’t compliment your property for some reason, consider metal. You might find metal panels in shades of blue, red, white, or any other color that will more readily blend with your home’s overall appearance.

The Top 5 Roofing Shingle Brands

roofing contractor assessing for roofing type

When choosing asphalt shingles, it’s vital that you ask your roofing contractor about name-brand materials with long warranties. Investing in high-quality shingles designed and built to last will mean a longer roof lifespan, with fewer repairs and replacements needed over the years.

  1. CertainTeed specializes in a variety of building materials including roofing shingles, insulation, fencing, trim, and more.
  2. GAF offers 3-ply asphalt shingles known for quality and durability. However, their shingle line might not offer as many color options as other companies.
  3. Owens Corning is known for its high-quality roofing shingles as well as fiberglass insulation, roof underlayment, and decking.
  4. Atlas shingles are high-quality and durable, although they also don’t tend to carry as many color options as other manufacturers.
  5. TAMKO provides a full line of roofing products as well as waterproof coatings.

When deciding on any roofing installation option, remember to consider warranties as well as price. A longer warranty can mean fewer repairs over the years, which can help offset any higher cost for your new roofing.

The Best Material to Use for Roofing

There is no “best” material to use for roofing since they all have pros and cons, as said. To help you decide on the right option for your home, note a few added considerations to keep in mind.

How long do you plan on owning your home?

If you plan on staying in your home indefinitely, you might invest in a roofing material with the longest lifespan, such as metal or clay tile. These materials can last 50 years or more, so they could realistically be the last roof you ever need to buy!

On the other hand, if you might put your home on the market sometime in the future, you might not want to spend so much money on roofing material. A high-quality asphalt shingle roof can be sufficient for however many years you plan on keeping your home.

Your home’s architectural style

While asphalt shingles are the most popular roofing material on the market today, they might detract from a Mediterranean or gothic style home. Clay tile or fiber cement stamped to mimic slate are sometimes more fitting for certain architectural home styles.

Shingles and tiles can also look a bit busy on a brick home, creating a cluttered and crowded look. Long metal panels might complement a brick façade more readily, enhancing your home’s overall curb appeal.

On the other hand, if you own a small or nondescript home, you might not want a clay, slate, or metal roof that would stand out or seem out of place! Standard asphalt shingles might blend more easily with traditional home styles or neutral exterior wall colors.

home with new type of roofing

The Waltham Roofers is happy to provide this information about roofing material types for homes to our readers, and hopefully, it offers some valuable insights you can share with a roofing contractor. For expert roof fixes and installation, call our Waltham roof repair contractors. We offer FREE price quotes and guaranteed services, so give us a call!

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