14 Roofing Materials Every Homeowner Should Know About

August 22nd, 2019 BY First American Roofing

Whether your roof was damaged in a storm, or it’s just time to replace your old roof, there comes a time where you need to choose the material for your new roof. There are many more options for roofing materials that homeowners may not even know about, so we’re going to go through some of the best to choose from.

Long ago are the days of “do you want clay, asphalt, or concrete tiles?” While asphalt shingles are by far the most common, there are WAY more roofing materials on the market – each bringing distinct pros and cons. There are now an astounding amount of alternatives to the basic roofing materials of the olden days. Mixing function, fit, style, and durability – advanced roofing materials can give you the exact aesthetic you’re looking for while meeting every need for your home.

Navigating this process can prove difficult for the average homeowner. After all, you don’t want to spend extra money on roofing materials you don’t need. So wherever you are in the reroofing process we hope this post helps break down the different roofing materials available to you, highlighting both their distinct benefits and areas of weakness. If you’d rather watch a video on this topic, we attached one below:

There are a number of points homeowners want to find when choosing a roof for their home or business. They want long life expectancy, affordability, adding value to the property, withstand weather, eco-friendly, ease of maintenance – the list goes on. Check out the list of these 14 types of roofing, and see which ones check those important boxes for you.

List of 14 Roofing Materials Every Homeowner Should Consider

1. Asphalt Composite Shingles

One of the most common roofing materials in America, if not the most popular type of shingle, is asphalt composite. Asphalt shingles are chosen across the nation as they’re considered very effective across many climates and environmental conditions. The costs upfront are generally quite low, depending on your area, but they do have a shorter lifespan and need to be replaced after about 20 years. Homeowners who live in climates or areas that are prone to hail might want to think about getting impact-resistant shingles. You may even be able to get a discount on your insurance premium by proactively putting on impact-resistant roofing.

asphalt composite roofing materials

Asphalt shingles have been the industry standard for over 150 years, and for good reason. Asphalt resists water and can be made to resemble tile, wood, or slate shingles. Asphalt shingles are also incredibly cost-effective and easy to install, maintain, and repair making them a great shingle for your basic American first-time homebuyer. They actually come in three different styles, adding versatility as another component that makes them the best option. They come in 3 basic varieties; 3-tab shingles, dimensional shingles, and luxury shingles.

3-Tab Shingles

The most basic design of the three, 3-tab shingles are in a single layer overlapping like a regular shingle you’d see anywhere. Each shingle has slight tone variations which give it a dynamic look as they overlap one another. You’ll frequently find them in older homes built when these were most popular, or on economical homes. They are designed to last 20+ years.

Dimensional Shingles

Dimensional asphalt shingles are going to be stronger and more durable than 3-tab, and can last up to 30 years or longer. The main difference with these is they are arranged in 2 or 3 layers, as opposed to the single-layer 3-tab. Dimensional shingles are even more cost-effective as far as an investment goes. Due to their enhanced textures and patterns, the curb appeal alone makes their higher up-front cost pay off big time.

Luxury Shingles

Luxury asphalt shingles imitate the look of slate and cedar shanks, but at a fraction of the cost. They are often installed on older homes that want to maintain that natural age aesthetic but without the hefty price tag.

GAF manufacture’s one of the best asphalt shingles on the market. We at First American Roofing and Siding are proud to be a GAF Master Elite® Contractor. This preferred standing enables us to offer a lifetime warranty against material defects and up to 25 years of watertight coverage.

2. Wood Shingles and Shakes

Wood shingles have a beautiful, rustic aesthetic, but do they last?

Short answer, YES. Wood shingles properly installed can last anywhere from 25-40 years. In fact, shingles made of cedar can be treated to be fire-resistant and prevent premature decay in some climates. Pine is also available treated with preservatives to keep away pesky insects, as well as early rot and decay.

Wood roofing materials are generally manufactured from 4 types of trees: pine, cypress, red cedar, and redwood. They are sawn on both sides, giving them an even taper and thickness. It should be noted that wood shakes are different from shingles as they are split right from logs, then reshaped for manufacturing. They are going to have one end thicker than the other, kind of like a little wedge.

wood shake roofing materials

The difference between shingles and shakes is shakes are split right from the log and reshaped for manufacturing. Their rough edge gives a unique texture and rustic look many homeowners desire. Their wedge shape gives a lot more dimension, especially when they are all layered together. Meanwhile, shingles are sawn on both sides to make an even shape and thickness throughout. They will have a more even, clean look when installed overlapping each other.

Real wood shakes or shingles are a great, high-end option for roofing material. They are highly durable, and with proper installation and maintenance, will age gracefully for up to 50 years.

3. Slate Shingles

There are 4 main reasons why it’s smart to invest in a slate or shale roof.

Timeless beauty – Shale comes in many colors and hues, and the texture of it gives it such an aesthetically pleasing look, it’s chosen by many historical buildings and elegant home as the roof of choice.

Longevity – Slate roofs can last for over 100 years. A HUNDRED YEARS. It’s been called the “forever roof” because it outlives the homeowners themselves, plus many more! Its long lifespan makes it an incredibly good investment, as well as very eco-friendly. One slate roof equals 3-4 roofs being replaced and thrown in landfills in its time.

slate shingle roofing materials

Fire Resistant – Unlike many roofing materials, they are completely fireproof.

Water Resistant – Slate shingles can withstand heavy rains, snow, and high winds. It also does not rot or grow fungus or mold.

The downfalls of a slate roof include its ability to break easily when hit with force from hail or other debris. And also their expensive cost upfront. But, if you are interested in making a life-long investment in your home, the pay-off of slate shingles is a major benefit if you want to just set it and forget it.

4. Metal Roofing

As with many roofing materials, there are some pros and cons of each type. Some amazing benefits of metal roofing include;

Long Life Expectancy – Metal roof sare going to last about as long as you own the home. Many companies will stand behind a 30-50 year lifespan of metal roofs. They are resistant to fire, insects, mold, and rot, making them a great investment.

Shedding Snow and Rain – You won’t find a roof more impervious to snow and rain. The flat, seamless surface allows water to run right off, and the dark color warms easily which promotes snowmelt.

metal panel roofing materials

Heat Conduction – When it’s not winter, and temperatures are hot, the metal roof reflects sunlight which keeps midday heat to a minimum. Without the sun’s warmth permeating through the roof to your home, you can save on energy costs without having to crank the AC.

Lightweight Material – This material is incredibly lightweight compared to other roofing materials. At just 50-150 lbs per square (100 square feet) that’s quite light when compared to concrete at 900 lbs per square and tile at 750 per square.

Some downfalls include;

Noisy During Extreme Weather – The sound of rain on a metal roof can be soothing for some, but during extreme weather, it can be very loud and disrupting.

Can Dent Easily – It may not be recommended to use metal roofing in areas prone to hail. Just like a car, the metal roofing can potentially dent if large hail hits it.

Metal roofing is truly the highest-performing roofing system available. Read more about the benefits of metal roofing and how we install it for our customers here.

5. Metal Shingles

Interlocking metal shingle roofs have become the second most popular type of residential metal roofing. There is a large variety of different metal shingle styles to choose from, most commonly galvanized steel and aluminum, though you may also find zinc or copper shingles.

metal shingle roofing materials

Metal shingles will last a lot longer than many types, and you can get metal shingles that look like other kinds. For example, cedar shingles and slate impression, these metal shingles will closely resemble them but will likely costs less and last longer.

6. Stone-coated Steel

Get the look of beautiful, rustic clay tiles at the fraction of the cost, with stone-coated steel. It’s amazing how similar they look, you’ll have everyone fooled!

To decide whether a stone-coated steel roof is right for you, consider the following;

Stylish – Stone-coated steel shingles some in a wide variety of styles. Advanced technology has made it so you would never know the tiles are actually made of metal. To the untrained eye, they imitate the look of slate and clay so well, there’s no discernible difference. But, it will continue to look good as new for many years without any extra maintenance.

stone coated steel roofing materials

Durable – Stone-coated metal tiles are resistant to rain, freeze/thaw, snow, and wind. They will not break, warp, split, or absorb water. They’ve shown incredible resilience during severe weather like hail, fires, and even earthquakes.
Lightweight – A stone-coated steel roof can actually be installed over existing roofs it’s so light, at just .5 pounds per square foot. The lightweight can also ease the burden on your home. Heavy roofs can add to the structural burden on the house frame which can cause settling, cracking, and more repairs.
Adds Value – If you ever are to sell your home, having a stone-coated steel roof is going to work ever in your favor by being beautiful, long-lasting, unique, and will really draw the eye of a prospective buyer.

7. Rubber Slate Tile

Synthetic slate is considered more durable, more “green”, and safer than authentic slate material. Synthetic slates are fire-resistant and are effective against severe exposure to external fires, and will not spread the fire.
Their light weight does not need extra reinforcement, making them very practical for residential construction. During installation, synthetic slate can be trimmed and cut with a knife during installation, to make any custom adjustments. This is far from the need to make precise cuts and sizing for authentic slate shingles. Win!

8. Clay Tile

Clay roof shingles combine the rustic architectural style of shingles with the many advantages of clay tiles. Clay roof shingles are going to be a unique style that you really can’t get any other way, with such authenticity.

They can withstand very high heat and are extremely durable so you may find modern clay tile roofs in warmer climates. But you can use them in colder ones if you buy tiles made to withstand the freeze-thaw cycle. They are well suited for homes constructed with clay or concrete found in southwestern states, both functionally and aesthetically.

clay tile roofing materials

Clay shingles are much heavier than asphalt shingles or metal roofs, and you would want to make sure your home could withstand that extra weight before deciding to go with a clay tile. They also have a higher initial cost than some other types of roofing, as well as the potential for extra repair costs for damage if your home is in an area frequented by storms.

9. Concrete Tile

Concrete tile is pretty common and has been used for the last few centuries. It is beautiful, long-lasting, and economical – many roofs built over a hundred years ago still have their original, intact concrete roofs. You can get a concrete tile that has different colors, hues, textures and that resemble other, more expensive types of tiles.

Concrete roof tiles will more often than not, last the lifetime of the house, Concrete tiles are resistant to hail and high wind damage. In fact, concrete tiles have been tested to perform against 125 winds, winds that would rip off many other types of residential shingles. Their seamless design works hard to resist leaks and damage. Definitely worth the investment!

10. Green Roofs

The big win when it comes to a green roof is its contribution to stormwater management. The green roof absorbs and filters rainwater that otherwise would be running right into the sewers. They reduce runoff and improve water quality. They reduce noise and air pollution. They can be a space for urban agriculture, plus create habitats for wildlife. Not to mention, they are incredibly cool and aesthetically pleasing. Everyone will be jealous of your green roof. The long-term benefits and the payoff you and the environment will receive from this long-term, are worth the investment.

eco-friendly green roofing materials

Mitigating stormwater runoff is considered the primary benefit of a green roof, especially in urban areas. Runoff from roof surfaces increases erosion and encourages waste to flow into our sewers and inevitability the rivers.  A major benefit of green roofs is their ability to absorb stormwater and release it slowly over a period of several hours, rather than quickly down a gutter like with your average residential roof. Meaning you don’t need to invest in the best gutter guards like you would with a traditional roof.

Green roofs are protected from UV radiation and extreme fluctuations in temperature that cause other roofing materials to disintegrate and lose their lifespan. They aid in making your home incredibly energy efficient, by shading the roof and keeping your home cool in the warm months and warm in the cool months. It’s the ideal situation for everyone!

11. Built-up Roofing

For over 100 years, Built-up Roofs have been used. sometimes called tar and gravel roofs,  BUR systems are generally made up of alternating layers of bitumen and fabrics that create a membrane-style material. They can have different numbers of plies, or layers depending on what you need. Built-up roofs can be applied directly to roof decks or insulation.

built up roofing (BUR) roofing materials

The fabrics used to produce the membrane are called roofing felts or ply sheets and are reinforced with either an organic or glass-fiber mat. The bitumen in between these ply sheets is generally asphalt, tar, or cold-applied adhesive. The asphalt or coal tar must be heated first and applied by a special spreader, the cold-applied adhesive if you couldn’t tell, does not need to be heated before application.

They are generally used for low-slope or flat roofs. The material makes it perfect for walking on, without any damage so flat roofs work best with this type of roofing material. They also bode well in warmer climates, and their average lifespan is 15-30 years, but some can last upwards of 40 years.

12. Membrane Roofing

Thermoplastic roof membranes are one of the fastest-growing materials in the industry. They have a high=temperature tolerance and have a unique look. The durability of the membrane outstands a lot of competition and other roofing materials. Some major advantages are their durability and energy efficiency.

Durable – Thermoplastic membranes offer excellent durability. They are flexible, allowing them to withstand punctures, tears, chemical spills, oils, and more. They also combat bacterial growth and standing water – both of which diminish the life of the membrane over time.

Energy Efficient – Membrane roofs have a well-known ability to control energy costs, due to their heat-resistant properties. Often colored black, white or grey, they are highly reflective, repelling UV rays away from the building, which in turn can lower your cooling and energy expenses.

13. Rolled Roofing

Though it’s not used often for residential roofing, rolled roofing is a great affordable option for anything from work sheds, potting sheds, garages, barns, and other outdoor structures. It works best on low slope roofs, and is easy enough to install yourself!

rolled roofing materials

Almost all home improvement stores carry rolled roofing so it’s easy to obtain and easy to transport. They come in rolls about 36 feet long x 36 inches wide but are easy to cut and customize if needed. Each roll weighs about 75 pounds so again, easy to transport and DIY. All you need is the rolls and roofing nails.

The downfalls of a rolled roof though are plenty. There aren’t a lot of color options, it’s not very cool looking, it only lasts about 5-8 years and they are less durable than shingles. However, they are still going to be one of the easiest cheapest options for your low-incline, structure roof. It will work just fine for your shed!

14. Solar Tiles

Solar tiles are not solar panels Solar tiles are actually solar-powered shingles for your roof and they are sleek, stylish, and amazingly eco-friendly. Some immediate drawbacks of solar tiles are their expensive set-up costs and their reliance on sunlight for power. It is said though that the cost-savings from going solar will eventually match the initial cost after 7-20 years. Plus, it adds a ton of retail value to your home! People say the pros outweigh the cons tenfold.

Cost-Effective – Within the first year of installation, homeowners see a drastic reduction in utility bills. Eventually, you can achieve total independence from local utility companies, while escaping the ever-increasing rates of electricity. Also, there are some pretty sweet tax benefits for installing solar roofing.

solar tile roofing materials

Long-Lasting – Solar tiles are built to last, and the cost of maintenance and repair is nothing compared to normal roofing repairs and materials. Solar tiles are highly rated against wind, hail, and fire. Tesla solar tiles are all certified to the highest ratings a roof can get when it comes to weather.

Environmentally Friendly – Turning to solar power can help aid in our reliance on exhaustible resources. Solar power is renewable energy that doesn’t burn fossil fuels to generate electricity. It’s an incredible alternative to current methods as it is clean and green energy. No greenhouse gas emissions are released with solar power.

Back-Up Power – You may ask ‘What about cloudy days, or bad weather? How do the panels get power from the sun?’ Technological advances had been made to allow the panels and tiles to collect energy it’s gathered in the day and use it as a backup for those days where the sun is not prominent. You will always have a continuous supply of power.

Determining The Right Roofing Material For Your Home

At the end of the day, determining which roofing materials are right for you comes down to personal preference and your budget. There are times where certain roof options will provide a distinct benefit you should take advantage of, but for the most part, it boils down to what you want and what you can afford. Determining the actual cost depends on how long you plan to be in your home. For instance, a metal roof costs more per square foot than an asphalt roof. However, the metal roof will long outlast the asphalt roof, ultimately making it cost less in the long run. The upfront cost may be higher, but if you take advantage of the metal roof’s full lifespan, you’ll come out money ahead.

First American Roofing knows roofs. With our GAF Master Elite® Contractor certification, we can guarantee you will get the most knowledgeable, professional contractors you can find. We want all your questions answered and to get you the roof you want and need. For more information or to get a free quote and assessment, contact First American Roofing. Give us a call at (608) 305-2257  or email us at info@firstamericanroofing.com