When considering roofing materials, take into account the climate and weather in your area. What works for one house in sunny Texas might not work as well for a home in Chicago, where the winters are usually wet and freezing. You’ll also want to consider the size of your budget and the size of the roof before making a final decision.

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt Shingles

The standard in roofing material, asphalt shingles are made either of fiberglass or organic materials. Fiberglass asphalt shingles aren’t very environmentally friendly, and in areas with heavy wind and rain, these shingles might need replacing every few years. However, the availability and ease of installation of these shingles are exceptional. Organic shingles are more environmentally friendly, but they are also heavier and less durable than fiberglass shingles.

Pros: most common roofing material; good insulator; available in a huge array of styles, colors, and sizes.

Cons: environmentally unfriendly; will need replacement every 15 to 30 years; can be high maintenance in harsher climates.


Metal Roof

Metal roofs are increasing in popularity because of their durability and environmental benefits—they’re often made of recycled materials and are recyclable as well. Though they can be more expensive to install than a standard asphalt shingle roof, they last much longer, saving money in the long run. This style of roof is an excellent choice if you’re looking for a long-term roofing solution, but keep in mind their lifespan may decrease near coastal areas where salt water may corrode the metal.

Pros: environmentally friendly; fire resistant; durable and long lasting; available in many colors and styles.

Cons: expensive initially to install; some find metal roofs noisy in the rain; might not last as long in areas with salt water.

Wood Shakes and Shingles

Wood Shakes and Shingles

Many love the natural look of wood shakes and shingles, and they tend to look better with age. These roofing materials are made from many different woods, usually depending on the home’s location, and include cedar, yellow pine, redwood, and others. Wood shakes and shingles are almost always treated for fire retardation; however, since they’re made of wood, they do still present a higher fire danger than asphalt shingles, tile, slate, or metal roofing.

Pros: Good insulation properties; many love its natural, aesthetic look.

Cons: Requires regular maintenance; expensive to make and install; higher susceptibility to fire.

Natural and Man-made Slate


Natural slate roofs are heavy and expensive, but they’re also highly prized. While not very common these days, man-made slate tiles—made from rubber and other materials—are a fraction of the price and weight of the real thing.

Pros: many love the look of natural and man-made slate shingles; lasts much longer than many other roofing materials.

Cons: natural slate is very heavy, so extra roof support might be required; one of the most expensive roofing materials to buy and install; man-made slate’s appearance might not fool everyone.

Ceramic Tile

Ceramic Tile

Most people think of Italian villas when they picture tile roofs. These tiles, usually made from ceramic, bring a specific aesthetic look to a house that many homeowners find appealing. Though they’re expensive and can be difficult to install, roofing experts claim ceramic tiles can last upwards of 80 years.

Pros: long lasting; visually appealing; less expensive than slate roofing.

Cons: expensive; difficult installation; sometimes difficult to find replacements in case of damage.

The roofing materials listed above are just a sampling of your available options. If you still have questions, you’ll want to call a professional roofing company to help guide you through the process of choosing the right roof for you.

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Sources: Associated Roofing Contractors of the Bay Area Counties; GAF; Mother Earth News; This Old House.

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