Types of Roofing To Consider – Forbes Advisor – Forbes Advisor

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Most homeowners in the US choose asphalt shingles because they are the easiest to find, most affordable and versatile roofing material. The most durable types of roofing are slate and clay tile, but they are more expensive than materials such as metal or wood. Functional roofing alternatives such as green roofs and solar shingles are among the most expensive types.

Replacing an old roof is one of the best and most profitable ways to invest in a home. Choose the type of roof that suits your home, climate and budget and make sure you find the right roofer when installing a new roof.

Shingles (asphalt, fiberglass, composite)

Nearly 90% of homes in the US use composite asphalt shingles because they are affordable, durable and easy to install. Asphalt shingles only cost $1.50 to $5.50 per square foot or about $8,000 per roof installation. They can last up to 30 years and can be recycled to make pavement.

Manufacturers mix fiberglass, asphalt and mineral composite to create different colors, such as gray, brown, red, green or blue. However, their color will fade over time due to sun exposure. The color and quality will look different depending on whether you choose architectural or three-piece shingles.


  • Affordable
  • Low maintenance
  • Easy to find
  • Works well in most climates
  • Available in different colors
  • recyclable


  • Color fades due to sun exposure
  • 3 tab style prone to wind damage
  • Short life

Architectural and Three-Tab

Architectural asphalt shingles are individual tiles that are thicker than three tabs to create a layered, durable texture on your roof. The higher quality material and longer installation make architectural shingles more expensive. However, they can last 15 to 30 years and are more weather resistant.

Three-tab asphalt shingles are thinner and cut to look like three shingles. This allows for faster installation and creates a uniform, brick-like pattern. They are sensitive to high winds and generally last 7 to 15 years. These are usually the most affordable roofing options.

Metal roofing

Metal roofing feels like a modern choice, but they’ve been around since the 1800s. Metal sheeting and clapboards remain a popular choice today because materials like aluminum and zinc are affordable, easy to transport, low-maintenance, and beautiful even with age. They can last up to 80 years and cost between $6 to $14 per square foot depending on design and material.

There are two types to choose from: shingles and plates (also called panels) which are joined by a “standing seam”. You can also have the metal pre-treated with sealant. While metal roofing can come in a variety of colors, you can also paint some styles.

Did you know? The blue-gray roofs of Paris get their color from zinc panels first installed in the 1830s.


  • Low maintenance
  • Sustainable
  • Can mimic slate, asphalt or wood
  • Variety of colors
  • lightweight
  • recyclable


  • Needs soundproofing to reduce noise
  • May warp or develop wrinkles if installed incorrectly
  • Requires specialized labor to install and repair

Standing seam and shingles

Standing seam metal roofing requires careful installation to prevent the panels from wrinkling to create clean vertical lines. Installing such metal sheets is usually more expensive, prices between $9 and $14 per square foot.

Metal shingles are manufactured to mimic slate, asphalt, or wood roofing. These are on average about $1 to $3 cheaper per square foot then standing seam.

Wooden roofing

Wood roofing goes well with charming Cape Cod cottages, cozy craftsman- and Tudor-style homes. They start out sandy brown and silver with age. Wooden roofs can last 50 years in arid climates, but must be treated in fire-prone areas such as California. Wet climates, such as the East Coast, go through wooden roofs more quickly due to water damage.

Cedar, redwood and pine are common building materials because they each repel insects. Cedar shake roofing is the most popular choice and averages $5 to $7 per square foot.


  • Curb profession
  • Natural material


  • Susceptible to water damage, mold, mildew and rot
  • May need to be treated with flame retardants and chemical preservatives
  • Maintenance friendly

Shakes and shingles

There are two ways to shape wooden roofing:

  • Shakes are split into wedges to get a more natural, shaggy look. These are the more expensive options, prices around $3.50 per square foot and $7 to $13 to install.
  • Shingles are cut to a uniform length, width and thickness to create clean lines. These are on average about $1 to $2 less expensive then shakes.

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clay tiles

Clay tiles are one of the most popular roofing materials in the world, dating back 5000 years to glazed earthenware roofs in China. They cost $10 to $18 per square foot and last 50 to 100 years or more. You can choose from different styles such as Spanish, French, Scania and more.

While expensive to install and repair, clay tile lasts longer than almost all other types of roofing material. It is common in places like Southern California and Florida because clay roofing is perfect for warm climates, can withstand winds of up to 240 miles per hour, and is incredibly fire resistant.


  • Low maintenance
  • Great attraction
  • Colors include terracotta, red, brown and gray
  • Made from natural materials
  • Controls the temperature in the house


  • Vulnerable to impact
  • May need additional structural support due to its weight
  • May require specialized labor to install and repair

Slate roofing

Slate is one of the most durable types of roofing material and is comparable in cost to clay tiles ranging from $9 to $20 per square foot. This material can last 50 to 200 years. In addition to being fireproof and resistant to high winds and extreme temperatures, it can also withstand impacts from hail and small branches.

You can choose from natural, mined slate or synthetic alternatives such as fiber cement slate or bituminous styles. Synthetic slate is much more affordable and has many of the same benefits as natural.


  • Long lifespan
  • Low maintenance
  • Sustainable
  • Colors include grey, blue, green, brown and red


  • Cost
  • May need additional structural support due to its weight

Green roofing

Green roofs (or living roofs) cover your home with vegetation such as grasses or native wildflowers that support pollinators. They cost between $10 and $25 per square foot to install and has many benefits, such as fighting excessive outdoor heat and reducing rainwater runoff. Green roofs often last 30 to 50 years.

Once you know the truth about green roofs, it may be at the top of your list.


  • Sustainable
  • Supports the environment


  • Gardening and water maintenance
  • Needs extra structural support for weight and water.
  • Requires specialized labor

sun shingles

Solar shingles are one of the newest types of roofing materials. You will need to hire a roofer who specializes in building integrated photovoltaics (BIPV) to install it.

While solar shingles can run efficiently for 20 to 30 years, this renewable energy solution is an expensive investment. Installation ranges from $21 to $25 per square foot. However, they can increase the value of your home by: $15,000 or more. The future of US solar energy looks bright.


  • Produces usable, renewable energy for your home
  • Improves resale value


  • Requires specialized labor to install and repair
  • Moderate maintenance
  • Needs extra structural support for weight and wiring

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