Your roof is undoubtedly one of the biggest investments you can make in your home— so you want to get it right. The thing is, there are so many more roofing material options than ever before. While asphalt shingles remain the most popular roofing material in America, you can also consider these types of roofing materials;

  • Metal
  • Clay tiles
  • Concrete tiles
  • Slate
  • Slate composite
  • Wood shakes

Of course, to decide which roof material works best for your home, you want to compare their pros and cons, cost, and style options. Our guide should help you do that! By the end, you’ll be able to see the benefits (and downfalls) of the most common roofing materials used today.

1) Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are a very basic roofing material, but still claim the throne as the top roofing material used today. They’re made of an asphalt material coated with a thick layer of granules that help protect against UV rays, temperature shifts, and weather elements. As asphalt roof is relatively inexpensive, easy to install, and comes in a variety of colors and styles.

Pros of Asphalt Shingles

  • Inexpensive
  • Many color and style options
  • Easy to install
  • Low-maintenance
  • DIY-friendly
  • It can be manufactured to be impact resistant
  • Fit any style of home
  • Easy to replace

Cons of Asphalt Shingles

  • Susceptible to wind uplifts and hail damage
  • Won’t install properly in cold weather
  • Shortest lifespan of the top roofing materials (15-20 years)
  • Less unique look
  • Can crack in extreme temperature shifts

2) Metal

roofing materials metal

Metal roofing has been quickly climbing the ladder as another very viable option for residential homes. Metal roofs used to be just standing seam metal roofs— something you might see on a barn or shed. But now, with the manufacturing of high-end metal shingles, homeowners are jumping at the opportunity to upgrade their roof to a more durable version of a shingle.

Pros of Metal Roofs

  • Extremely durable (50-70 year lifespan)
  • Resistant to fire, wind, insects, and rot
  • Energy efficient— can reflect solar rays
  • Recyclable
  • Low-maintenance
  • Can be installed over existing roofs

Cons of Metal Roofs

  • More expensive than other roofing materials
  • It can be louder in rain and hail storms (especially if not adequately insulated)
  • Can dent from large hail

3) Clay Tile

Clay tiles have been around for a long time and are often more prevalent in southern desert regions. People choose clay tiles for their longevity, durability, and 100+ year lifespan. Some other benefits include the following:

Pros of Clay Tile

  • It lasts a very long time (50-100 years)
  • Durable and withstands severe weather conditions
  • Resistant to fire, rot, and insects
  • Natural insulator

Cons of Clay Tile

  • Expensive
  • Heavier than other roofing materials— requires a stronger roof deck
  • Can crack in freezing temperatures
  • Installation is complex and requires a professional

4) Concrete Tile

Concrete tiles are very similar to clay tiles in many ways, but they’re made of cement instead of clay. This difference means they’re a bit more flexible, which helps them withstand freeze-thaw cycles better (though they can still crack). They have all the same pros as clay tiles but with a few added benefits:

Pros of Concrete Tiles

  • More flexible than clay tiles (less likely to crack)
  • Long lifespan (50-100+ years)
  • Very versatile and unique style options
  • Eco-friendly
  • Highly durable

Cons of Concrete Tiles

  • Very heavy material
  • Susceptible to cracks from large debris, foot traffic, or hail
  • High upfront costs (but a long-term investment)
  • Tend to fade over time
  • Require a lot of maintenance to keep clean and free of algae and moss

5) Slate

roofing materials slate

A slate roof is often called the “forever roof” because it lasts well over 100 years and even into the 200s. Slate roofs are some of the oldest roofs on record— take a trip to Europe, and you’ll see what we mean. While slate is not a common choice for standard residential homes, for those who do, they are making an investment that lasts long beyond their lifetime. Slate roofs can be ideal for churches or other structures that are meant to last for a long time.

Pros of Slate

  • Lasts an extremely long time (100-200 years)
  • Highly water resistant
  • Fire resistant
  • Beautiful and timeless aesthetic
  • Very low maintenance
  • Big increase in home value

Cons of Slate

  • It’s very, very expensive averaging $20,000 – $38,000
  • It weighs up to 4 times that of a standard asphalt shingle roof
  • Heavy on the structure— requires reinforcing the roof trusses, most likely

6) Synthetic Slate Shingles

For a less expensive but just as long-lasting material comparable to slate, homeowners may choose synthetic slate or slate composite. This material has the beautiful look and the durability of slate but with a much lower price tag.

Pros of Synthetic Slate

  • Both the material and the installation are cheaper than natural slate
  • Made of recyclable material
  • Easier to find in stock
  • More contractors can install synthetic slate vs. the real thing

Cons of Synthetic Slate

  • Depending on the quality of the manufacturer, some synthetic slate may not look as close to slate as others
  • Can’t compare to natural slate’s resistance to water, fire, or rot

7) Wood Shakes

Lastly, wood shakes are an attractive option for your home’s roof. The aesthetic of a wood shake roof is so stunning and timeless— and it works great on most home styles, but especially something with a woodsy feel.

Pros of Wood Shakes

  • A natural insulator
  • Resistant to pests and high winds
  • Cedar shakes hold firm against UV rays

Cons of Wood Shakes

  • They fade into a grayish color that, for many, is beautiful, but some people may not like it
  • It’s expensive for how short its lifespan is (15-30 years)
  • It can be hard to notice cracks
  • Require diligent upkeep and maintenance

As you can see, there is much to be said of these unique roofing materials. While comparing the pros and cons is very important to choose the best for your home, ultimately, people often choose based on price and style. But your contractor can help you in that decision-making process!

Choosing a Reputable Contractor for the Job

When you find yourself seeking a new roof and want to upgrade your roofing material, talk to the pros at Mars Restoration. Our roofing professionals have seen all kinds of roofing issues and situations. And no matter how big or small your roofing project is, our goal is to ensure you get a roof that protects you and your family for years to come. Get in touch to get started on your dream roof.