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What are the best materials for repairing or replacing a roof?

The type of roofing material a homeowner chooses has a significant impact on the overall appearance and character of their home. When a home receives an updated roof, it can add value to the home and contribute to the style of the home. The material a homeowner chooses for their roof can raise a home’s status and relies on proper roof framing, expert preparation and professional installation to provide optimal function and appearance.

Choosing roofing materials

A new roof can upgrade a home’s style, color and overall appearance. There are important considerations homeowners need to make when selecting roofing materials including:

  • The weight as it may require special framing
  • Available colors and styles available to complement the home
  • Whether it meets the local fire codes
  • Possible special installation and maintenance issues
  • Good performance in extreme weather conditions of the area
  • Cost, lifetime and warranty

Keeping those considerations in mind when searching for new roofing material can help homeowners make an educated choice. Roofing materials today come in numerous options but knowing more about the most popular types is a good place to start.

Asphalt shingles

Asphalt shingles are the most common residential roofing material in use today in the United States because of their economical cost and the ease of installation. Reinforcing asphalt shingles with organic materials or fiberglass can increase their effectiveness without altering their appearance.

Benefits – Various colors, widely available, affordable

Drawbacks – Shorter life span, less insulation, varying quality

Style of home – Most architectural styles, especially suburban

Cost – Range from $70+ a square

Lifespan – 20-25 years with proper maintenance

Metal roofing

Metal roofing comes in shingles or panels and resists extreme weather conditions. Metal roofing materials include copper, stainless steel, zinc and aluminum.

Benefits – Durable, high solar reflectance, lightweight, recyclable, long-lasting, aid in rainwater harvesting,

Drawbacks – Relatively expensive

Style of home – Cabins, contemporary, cottage, bungalow

Cost – Start at approximately $100 to $600 a square

Lifespan – 40-75 years

Concrete and clay tiles

Concrete and clay tiles are a good way to add elegance and texture to a new roof but they’re heavy and require professional installation. Concrete and clay tiles come in flat, scalloped or ribbed that mimic genuine clay tiles but are less expensive and more versatile.

Benefits- Long lasting, energy efficient, non-combustible

Drawbacks – Heavy, expensive, may require additional roof framing

Style of home – Southwestern, Mission, Mediterranean, Spanish-style

Cost – Start at $300 a square

Lifespan – 40-50 years with proper maintenance

Wood shingles and shakes

Wood shingles and shakes have been a popular choice for hundreds of years for homeowners who appreciate the look of wood. Wood shakes have a rougher appearance than wood shingles, are usually cut by machine, are handmade and weather to a shade of gray. Fire-prone regions require Class A fire-rated wood roofing products treated with fire resistant coating.

Benefits – Natural cedar, redwood, southern pine, rustic look

Drawbacks – Can mold, rot or split in wet climates, prohibited by fire codes in some areas

Style of home – Cape Cod, Craftsman, Tudor, cottage

Cost – Start at around $100 a square

Lifespan – 25-30 years

Slate roofing

Slate provides an elegant, beautiful and distinct appearance and is available in shades of black, grey, red, purple and green.

Benefits – Highly durable, recyclable, fire-resistant

Drawbacks – Heavy, expensive, requires additional framing, need professional installation, varying quality when imported

Style of home – European, French chateau, Colonial

Cost – Starts at $600+ a square

Lifespan – 50-100+ years

Synthetic roofing materials

Synthetic roofing materials include plastic, polymer and rubber roofing that give homeowners the texture, appearance and color of natural materials such as wood or slate. The design of synthetic roofing materials makes them strong, easier to maintain and sometimes fire-resistant.

Homeowners should check warranty information before purchasing and look at full-size samples to get the best idea of appearance. Seeing the product on an existing home gives an idea of how it wears in that specific area of the country.

Benefits – Lighter, more affordable and more durable than natural roofing materials

Drawbacks – Some materials absorb water, not time-tested, varying quality

Style of home – Various architectural styles

Cost – Start at $300 a square

Lifespan – up to 50 years