Most Popular Roofing Materials for Your Home

Most people default to asphalt roofs because they are the most common and relatively inexpensive compared to other roofing materials. But, aside from the traditional asphalt, there are several other popular roofing material options.

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Rachel Polant

Dec 2

Which Most Popular Roofing Material Is Best for Your Home?

A roof that’s in good shape is rarely given a thought, but when a home’s roof starts to fail, it’s time to start thinking about a replacement. Most people default to asphalt roofs because they are the most common and relatively inexpensive compared to other roofing materials. But, aside from the traditional asphalt, there are several other popular roofing material options.

Each has their pros and cons. It’s best to learn about what’s available to you and discuss it with a qualified roofing contractor to see how feasible the option you prefer is.

To help you get started on your research, here are the most popular roofing materials on the market.

Asphalt Shingles

Pros of asphalt shingles:

  • Affordable!
  • Variety: Many styles and colors to chose from. Laminated, premium, 3-tab and nearly any color — brown, beige, red, blue, grey, etc.
  • Simple installation: Easy and fast to install!

Cons of asphalt shingles:

  • Asphalt shingles can be damaged by high winds fairly easily.
  • Asphalt shingles can crack by extreme temperature changes.
  • Asphalt shingles are not environmentally friendly.

Architectural shingles are amongst the most popular roofing materials. If you’re in the market for premium asphalt shingles, you can’t go wrong with architectural roofing. They are more visually interesting, they last longer, are thicker, and are of better quality than standard 3-Tab shingles.

Architectural shingle products are as multifaceted as standard 3-Tab asphalt shingles. They go well with a wide style of homes; however, their higher durability ratings and higher aesthetic appeal make them more desirable. Whether you have a modern home, a rustic lodge, or a true-to-era Tudor style house, you can give any home an instant facelift with architectural shingle roofing.

Generally, architectural asphalt shingles are rated for wind resistance up to 120 miles per hour, and will routinely come with warranties up to 30 years. They are slightly more energy efficient than traditional 3-Tab shingles too.

Despite the extra durability that architectural shingles comprise, they still require the same maintenance as traditional 3-Tabs and are just as susceptible to mildew and ice damage. Any type of asphalt shingle is one of the least energy-efficient and environmentally unfriendly roofing materials. It is rarely recycled and gets tossed into landfills at the end of their service life.

The extra beauty and durability or architectural shingles a have higher price tag than classic asphalt 3-tab shingles. You can expect to pay $3.50-$6.00 / sq. ft. with materials and installation.

Clay and Concrete Tile Roofing Materials

Pros of clay or concrete tiles:

  • Long lasting! Clay roofing and concrete roofing tiles can last up to 100 years.
  • Wide choice: Clay and concrete roofing tiles come in many choices of color.
  • Fireproof: Clay roofing tiles and concrete roofing tiles are fireproof. This is great if you live in a state that is prone to wildfires, like Idaho, Oregon, California, and Washington.
  • Sturdy: Clay and roofing tiles and concrete roofing tiles are resilient to damage from physical impact.
  • Environmentally friendly!
  • Nearly maintenance free!

Cons of clay and concrete tiles:

  • Expensive.
  • Not DIY: Installing clay and concrete roofing is not a DIY job. It takes qualified roofing professionals skilled in clay roofing installation. Otherwise, you will have a roofing nightmare on your hands.
  • Heavy: Clay and concrete tile roofing is very heavy. Your home must have the structure to support the extreme weight of the tiles.
  • Fragile: You can’t walk on the tiles or you will crush them with just your normal shoes. Professionals have the proper tools to access the tiles for repairs if necessary.

There are a few drawbacks to clay tile roofing. Clay and concrete roofing is heavy. Make sure your roof can bear the weight of the tile. If it can’t, you’ll need to invest in reinforcing the structure of your roof so that it will be able to support the tiles. Also, you can’t just pop up on your roof and walk around. You’ll break the clay tiles under your weight. Another thing to consider is the slope of your roof. It must be below 4:12 in order to install clay roofing tiles.

Concrete tiles come in three main appearances: 1. Flat profile — no curves. 2. Low Profile — small curves and has a rise to width ratio equal to 1:5 or less. 3. High Profile — large curves and has a rise to width ratio greater than 1:5. Concrete tiles can simulate the appearance of traditional clay tiles, wood shake, slate and stone. Concrete absorb more water than clay, making them heavier and also more prone to mildew and mold.

When it comes to pricing, clay tile is one of the most expensive roofing options on the market. You’ll shell out about $9-$15 / sq. ft. for materials and installation but can rise to $30 for a premium product.

Slate Roofing

Pros of slate roofing tiles:

  • Beauty: Hands down, slate roofing is elegant and stately. The beautiful earth tones of the stone can enhance the aesthetics of the surroundings.
  • Longevity: Slate roofing tiles last for generations. If installed correctly, a homeowner can easily get 100+ years of use out of their roof.
  • Fireproof: Slate is stone, so a slate tile won’t catch fire if it should happen to come into contact with a spark or ember.
  • Environmentally friendly: It’s a natural product that isn’t made from chemicals or man-made substances. Plus, it’s not being dumped into a landfill every 20 years.

Cons of a slate tile roof:

  • Heavy: Slate tile roofs weigh a ton and require a home with a structure that can support the extreme weight.
  • Installation: It takes a highly skilled slate roofing contractor to do the job right. Slate will be with you a very long time. If it’s installed incorrectly, it is an exceptional nightmare.
  • Durability: They can be fragile and break easily. You can’t just have your chimney or HVAC pro go walking up on your roof. He will break tiles. And broken slate roofing tiles are no easy thing to replace.

A slate roof will easily last over 100 years, and if you’ve done your research, you’ll know that’s well over twice as long as the best residential roofing materials on the market. 

Many slate roofing manufacturers offer a 100-year warranty on their slate roofing systems. For people who plan to stay in their home without ever selling it, you couldn’t ask for better durability and maintenance-free roofing

The high density of slate makes it waterproof. Slate is also completely non-flammable, helping to protect your home in the event of a fire. The stone is also highly resistant to severe weather and temperature fluctuations which makes it ideal in areas prone to heavy rain, snow, and wind. And, a slate roof won’t be affected by fungus and mold. These exceptional properties make slate roofing, for all intents and purposes, maintenance-free, which allows you, after the initial investment, to save money on replacement, maintenance, and repairs.

Installing a slate roof on a house can greatly increase its resale value. Moreover, slate tile roofing’s longevity, durability, and beauty will appeal to prospective buyers if a homeowner does decide to sell.

A slate roof’s longevity makes it an environmentally friendly roofing choice. Waste from roofing material that gets replaced every 20 years or so currently accounts for 5 percent of all construction waste in our landfills. A slate roof will make you an environmental hero in this regard.

Although, slate roofing is a very durable roofing material, is does have some issues with fragility. Do not walk on slate tiles unless you know what you are doing! You will damage them. This is an issue because, once a tile is broken, replacing it is a complicated task. Slate runs by lots, and each lot is different. It becomes almost impossible to find replacement tiles that are a perfect match.

Another downside of slate for some homeowners is the heaviness of the tiles and the burden it puts on your roofing structure, which can weigh between 800–1,500 pounds per square (100 square feet). Unfortunately, many homes don’t have the structural support necessary to take the weight of a slate roof.

Often stronger, additional structural reinforcement needs to be completed first. Before you begin a slate roof installation, make sure you have a professional roofing contractor evaluate your home structurally to ensure it can withstand the extra weight. You don’t want any complications once the installation has already started.

Proper installation is key to a slate roof’s longevity. If a slate roof isn’t properly installed, could easily cause major roofing problems. Slate roofing is a highly specialized system, and installing it properly requires skill and appropriate training.

In reality, most roofers don’t have experience installing slate roofing systems. If an asphalt roofing contractor eagerly agrees to install your slate roof, don’t be seduced by their promises; only hire an experienced contractor who specializes in slate roofing. Make absolutely sure to ask the contractor for references! The cost of a slate tile roof is about $12 $20 / sq. ft. with installation.

Wood Shake and Wood Shingle Roofing Materials

Pros of wood shingles:

  • Beauty: The natural beauty of wood roofing shingles can’t be beaten!
  • Durability: Wood shingles can withstand very heavy gusts of wind. Upward of 200 mph!
  • Energy efficient: Wood shingles provide up to two times the insulations of asphalt shingles.

Cons of wood shingles:

  • Cost: Wood shingle roofing is expensive. It is truly a premium roofing material.
  • Maintenance: Wood shingle roofing requires regular maintenance to keep mold, mildew, and algae growth at bay.
  • Not fireproof: Wood shingles should not be used and, in fact, may be against code in certain areas of the country where forest fires are prevalent.

Most wood shingle and shake roofs are made from western red cedar (Thuja plicata), but other wood species are used as well.

Because the roofing is wood, the sun’s rays will fade the original color from the shingles. Eventually, you will end up with a graphite gray color roofing, so don’t have your heart set on the natural color the wood shingle or shake roofing started out as.

The Difference Between Wood Shingle and Wood Shake

Wood shingle roofing is machine cut from blocks of wood; whereas, wood shake roofing is hand split with special tools. Wood shingle roofing is thinner and smoother compared to the thicker and uneven appearance of wood shake roofing. Installation between the two differ. And as far as longevity goes, if you follow proper maintenance and care of your cedar shake or shingle roof, you can expect to see up to 50 years of life from your roof.

The downside of wood shake or shingle roofing is the cost and, in some areas of the country that are prone to forest fires, it does not meet code and is banned from use. In the industry lingo, an 18-inch wide wood shingle is known as “perfection” and a 24-inch wide shingle is known as “royal.” On average, wood shake, being the more premium product of the two wood roofing materials, costs around $6–$9 / sq. ft., whereas wood shingles will set you back $4–$7 / sq. ft.

Wood shake and wood shingle roofing are great if you live in an area that’s frequently hit by high winds. What would normally tear apart asphalt roofing during a storm won’t touch wood shake or shingle roofs as they can withstand winds of up to 245 mph.

Hire licensed and insurance roofing contractors to do the job right

Don’t put your home’s roof into the wrong hands. It’s an expensive investment and needs to be installed by a skilled and knowledgeable pro.

If you want to explore the most popular roofing material options, contact service.com to connect with the most qualified roofing contractors. Get your free quote today!

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