Types of Roofing Material

The roof of a house is a major aesthetic component of a home's exterior, and roof material types play a big role in the look and feel of a roof. Choosing the right type is both a matter of personal preference, as well as functionality (e.g., longevity and ease of cleaning), and homeowners have numerous options from which to choose their home's roofing material.

Options vary in terms of weight, durability, and price. Homeowners should have their residences professionally inspected to determine which kinds are best suited for the existing structure. Prices are generally calculated on a basis of 100-square-foot units known as squares.

An inspection can reveal what type of roof is best for a new home.An inspection can reveal what type of roof is best for a new home.

Asphalt Shingle
Asphalt shingles are probably the most common roofing material used on homes in the United States. They're affordable, easy to install, work with a variety of roof styles, and can be easily reinforced without significantly altering their appearance. The asphalt itself strengthens the shingle and works as a waterproofing agent. However, these shingles are also the least durable on the market.

  • The cost of asphalt shingles typically ranges from $70 to $120 per square.
  • With proper maintenance, asphalt shingles can last 20 to 25 years.

Slate Roof
Slate shingles are the high-quality version of their asphalt counterparts. Their natural stone material makes them more aesthetically pleasing. They are available in color varieties such as red, purple, green, and neutrals like gray and black. Slate shingles are also more durable than asphalt—they are completely fire- and waterproof, and can last at least 50 years.

Slate roofs are much heavier and more expensive than asphalt.

  • Each square can set a homeowner back anywhere from $600 to $8,000, depending on the supplier.
  • Their weight ranges from 600 to 1,500 pounds per each square.

Due to the significant weight, homeowners must make sure their house is structurally sound and able to withstand the heft of this roofing material.

Wood Roof
Most wood roofs are made of red cedar, which is naturally resistant to rot and other forms of water damage. Wood roofs are popular because of their natural look—they usually start as an attractive brown and weather to an eye-catching gray. Some regions, however, have fire codes that prohibit the installation of wood roofs due to their natural flammability. If you are considering the natural look and feel of a wood roof, make sure that there are no such restrictions in your neighborhood.

  • Because of their tendency to rot, mold or split, wood roofs need maintenance approximately every five years.
  • If well maintained, they can last for two or three decades.
  • Thrifty homeowners can find either at prices staring in the low $100s per square.

Clay or Concrete Tiles
Clay tiles are a popular choice for Spanish, Mission, and Mediterranean-style homes. They are also one of the oldest roofing materials—per the National Park Service, they first emerged in China during the Neolithic Age. These types of tiles either interlock with or overlap one another. While concrete tiles are similar in look to clay ones, they are less expensive and more energy efficient. Unfortunately, they're also the heavier of the two options.

  • Prices for clay and concrete tiles range from $400 to $1,000 per square.
  • Clay or concrete roofs can last between 40 and 50 years.

Metal Roof
Metal roofs offer the same durability of sturdy materials like slate and concrete along with the lightweight and less expensive than asphalt. The most common metal roofs are made of steel, but they also come in zinc, copper, and aluminum.
Metal options are popular on cabins and bungalows, and they resist fire, heavy winds, and rain. Lasting up to 75 years, metal roofs average between $300 and $650 per square.