13 Best Roof Materials for a House
The roof material you choose contributes to the look of your home and determines maintenance. While asphalt shingles remain a popular choice for their price and durability, there are 12 other options to consider.
A note about our roof materials cost estimates: Some manufacturers sell roofing materials by the square foot or the ‘square.’ A square is equal to 100 square feet. These estimates are also averages and material costs only. Your location and the specific product you choose will determine the actual price.
Popular House Roofing Materials
- Cost: $1 – $5 per square foot
Asphalt shingles feature a fiberglass base coated in asphalt and topped with ceramic-coated granules. They come in two varieties: basic three-tab and architectural.
Asphalt shingles are easy to install and affordable, making them the most common roofing material in the United States. You can get them in various colors, including gray, black, brown, red, and tan.
The average lifespan of an asphalt roof is 15 to 30 years, with some high-end products offering a 50-year warranty.
- Cost: $8 – $21 per square foot
The most common metal roof is the standing seam, which consists of large sheets of aluminum, zinc, or steel that interlock, creating a seamless look.
Metal roofs have high durability and can withstand wind, hail, and the sun’s UV rays. You can get standing seam roofs in any color imaginable.
The average metal roof lasts about 40-70 years, far exceeding the lifespan of most asphalt shingle roofs.
- Cost: $7 to $15 per square foot
Metal shingles are aluminum or steel and feature a stone coating or mineral granules to increase longevity. They provide the durability of metal standing seam roofs but offer the textured look of shingles.
You can find metal shingles in a wide array of colors and options that mimic the look of asphalt or slate.
Metal shingles can last about 40 years, sometimes much longer, depending on the location and type of metal.
- Cost: $4.50 – $14 per square foot
There are many types of wood shingles or shakes, including cedar, white oak, red oak, cypress, and Eastern white pine. Cedar is a popular choice because it’s naturally insect and rot-resistant. Wood shingles are common for cottages, bungalows, Craftsman, and Tudor-style homes.
These shingles come in two varieties: hand split and resawn or taper sawn. Hand Sawn versions offer a more rustic look, while tapersawn wood shingles have a more streamlined look.
The standard wood shingle will last about 30 years when well-maintained.
- Cost: $10-$30 per square foot
Slate shingles are a top roofing choice for longevity and durability. Slate is a naturally occurring stone that manufacturers cut into thin, small rectangles or curved shingles for use as a roofing material.
Because slate is an expensive roof cover, you’ll often see it on luxury homes. It adds a textural detail and is appropriate for many house styles. But since slate is heavy, you should only use it if the structure of your home can support the weight.
Slate shingles are the longest-lasting roof material, with a lifespan of over 100 years.
- Cost: $5-$15 per square foot
Clay tiles are a sustainable roof option made of earthen clay that’s molded to size and baked at a very high temperature. The process makes clay durable and ideal roofing for hot and coastal climates.
You can find clay tiles in an array of shapes. It’s most common for Spanish Colonial, Mediterranean, and coastal-style houses.
Clay tile roofs can exceed more than 100 years.
- Cost: $4-$7.50 per square foot
As the name suggests, concrete tile roofs are made of concrete. They provide superior performance against high winds and are impervious to rot and insect infestations.
You can find concrete tile roofing material that mimics the look of clay tile, asphalt shingles, or wooden shakes.
Cement tile roofing can add the texture you want while providing a secure solution in windy climates. A potential downside is that concrete is porous and can absorb water, so you’ll need to perform regular maintenance. Concrete roofs are also heavy.
A concrete tile roof can last 50 years or more when well maintained.
Synthetic Slate Shingles
- Cost: $4 – $12 per square foot
Synthetic slate shingles are made of rubber or plastic (sometimes recycled) and mimic the look of authentic slate. They are an excellent option for homeowners who want the look of stone without bearing the heavy load.
Synthetic slate is durable, with added sun protection. It also offers easier installation and a lower price than natural slate shingles.
A synthetic shingle roof will last 50-100 years, depending on the product and your climate.
Solar Roof Shingles
- Cost: $14-$19 per square foot
Solar shingles, or photovoltaic shingles, are small solar panels formed into the shape of a shingle. They can go over your existing shingles or directly on the roof.
Like regular roof material, solar roofing can withstand significant weather events and protect your home. They look similar to standard asphalt shingles. While expensive, they offer a convenient way to turn the sun’s rays into energy.
Solar shingles can last up to 30 years, but with new products entering the market, the lifespan has the potential to improve.
- Cost: Varies by type and size
Green roofs are sustainable but not easy to construct. They consist of living plants over a waterproof membrane.
The benefits of green roofing include managing water run-off, adding insulation to the home, and benefiting the ecosystem. But, if not well cared for, a green roof can lead to water leaks and rot.
The lifespan of a green roof depends on how well it’s maintained.
Roofing Materials for Flat and Low Sloped Houses
If you live in a home with a flat or low-sloped roof, the above options won’t work. Instead, you’ll need to explore flat roof systems like the three below.
- Cost: $4.25 – $14 per square foot
Membrane roofing consists of a thin waterproof sheet of material. Membrane roofs are most common for commercial buildings and RVS, but you could use this type of roof on a home.
The two most common types of membrane roofs are TPO and EPDM. TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin) is the least expensive and a good choice for warm regions. EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer) is a synthetic rubber membrane that works well in colder areas.
The average membrane roof lasts 7-15 years.
Built-Up Roof (BUR)
- Cost: $3.50 – $7 per square foot
A Built-Up Roof features several layers of alternating material. In a BUR system, a contractor will first lay a sheet of insulation and then add alternating layers of ply sheets and bitumen, topping the roof with aggregate.
Built-up roofs last longer than other types of flat roofing material thanks to their many layers. Expect a BUR to last 15-30 years.
- Cost: $50 per square
Rolled roofing is the equivalent of asphalt shingles for flat or low-sloped roofs on non-residential structures. Rolled roofing has an asphalt base reinforced with fiberglass and is mineral resurfaced.
While many flat-roof homes install rolled roofing, it’s not a top choice since it has a short lifespan and doesn’t add to the aesthetics.
Rolled roofing systems only last about 5-8 years.