Besides hiring a roofing contractor, choosing your roofing material for your replacement is the biggest decision you’ll have to make. So, of course, you want to know the best material available. 

I can sit here and tout one as the “best.” But the truth is, that would be an objective opinion about a single material.

How can learning about just one roofing material help you make the right decision for you and your roof?

For over 30 years, Bill Ragan Roofing has educated and helped homeowners just like you find the right roofing material. That’s why we’ll be giving you an honest look at the 5 best roofing materials for residential homes. 

While this article gives you the basic information you need to know about each roofing material, it doesn’t go as in-depth as we would like. That’s why I provided links throughout, so you’re able to dive deeper. 

But if you want to save time and avoid going down the rabbit hole, there’s a buyer’s guide at the end of this article that gives you everything (pros/cons, cost, lifespan, warranties) you need to know about each roofing material.

Let’s get to the 5 best roofing materials for your roof replacement. 

1. Asphalt shingle roof

The first roofing material (and most commonly used in the United States) is an asphalt shingle roof. An asphalt roof is made up of primarily asphalt shingles and other asphalt roofing components

There are three types of asphalt shingles to choose from: 3-tab, dimensional, and luxury. Each type of shingle has a specific look, and they all come at different price points. 

3 tab asphalt shingles

3-tab asphalt shingles lay flat and get their name from the 3 tabs on each shingle strip.

architectural asphalt shingles

Architectural (dimensional) shingles give you a good-looking random pattern or simulate the look of a wood shake roof.

luxury asphalt shingles

Luxury or premium shingles are designed to mimic a slate look. They are also larger and more durable than the two other asphalt shingles.

While 3-tab used to dominate the market, architectural shingles are the most common type installed on roofs today. While not as common, luxury style shingles are just as heavily marketed as architectural but are almost double the price.

If you’re looking for an affordable and good-quality roof, an architectural asphalt shingle roof is a great option. But if you have the budget to raise your home’s curb appeal and get extra life, a luxury asphalt shingle roof is worth the extra price. 

2. Standing seam metal roof

The next roofing material is metal roofing. While there are two types of metal roofs, a standing seam metal roof is recommended for residential roofing. 

standing seam metal roof

A standing seam metal roof system is a series of metal panels that are locked together at the seams or seamed mechanically. This allows for the metal panels to expand and contract freely when the metal heats up.

While not as common as asphalt, standing seam metal roofing is becoming more and more popular in the roofing industry. However, it’ll be two to three times more expensive than an asphalt shingle roof

The great thing about a metal roof is that it’s a versatile material. While you can get it as a full roof system, homeowners also add a standing seam metal roof accent to their asphalt roof replacement for a covered porch, dormers, flat roof facets, and more. 

3. Composite (synthetic) shingle roof

Composite shingles are a newcomer to the roofing industry but are becoming more and more popular daily. Composite (also known as synthetic) roof shingles are made of recycled materials, like rubber and plastics. 

However, some composite shingles, like DaVinci shingles, are made out of an engineered polymer instead of recycled materials. Composite shingles are unique because they’re designed to look exactly like a cedar shake roof or slate roof. 

composite cedar shake shingles(Composite cedar shake shingles)

composite slate shingles(Composite slate shingles)

To do this, they use molds of actual cedar shake shingles and slate tiles to make them look as authentic as possible. If you work in the roofing industry, you might be able to tell the difference between the composite shingles and the roofing material it mimics. 

However, you, your neighbors, or anyone walking by won’t be able to tell the difference from the ground. If you have the budget, a composite shingle roof is a great and durable roofing material. 

4. Cedar shake roof

Next on the list (and the first of the natural roofing materials) is a cedar shake roof. A cedar shake roof is a premium roof system made of natural wood (cedar) materials and is one of the most aesthetically pleasing roofing materials on the market.

cedar shake roof

To make the actual shingles, cedar trees are cut into 2-foot sections and hand split or sawed into a tapered thickness (tapersawn). Hand split gives you a more rugged look, while tapersawn is a much smoother look. 

Because cedar shake shingles are naturally made, there’s no manufacturer warranty on the materials if they fail prematurely. This only leaves you with your roofing contractor’s workmanship warranty to protect your investment. 

You also need to be aware, cedar shake shingles lose their color, rot, crack, and curl as they age, depending on the climate they’re exposed to. Before investing in a cedar shake roof, ask your roofing contractor about how the climate in your area impacts cedar shake shingles. 

5. Slate roof

The last roofing material on this list is a slate roof. A slate roof is a premium roof system made primarily out of natural slate tiles and other slate roofing materials.

slate roof

The slate itself is mined (mostly in Italy) and cut into square tiles. The slate tiles themselves have to be installed one at a time, unlike other roofing materials that come in 3 foot wide strips or metal panels. 

This makes replacing your old roof with a new slate roof a very slow and expensive process. Your home also has to be built, framed, or retrofitted to carry the weight of the slate tiles because they’re so heavy. 

A slate roof is one of the most beautiful and long-lasting roof systems on the market, but it’s also one of (if not the most) expensive. However, if you can afford the premium price, it’ll be the last roof you ever put on your home.  

Just be aware, there’s no manufacturer warranty on the materials if the slate tiles break or fail prematurely. 

Choose the right roofing material with this buyer’s guide

Now you know the 5 best roofing materials for residential roofing. Remember, you can click on the links to learn more about every individual material. 

While this is great, it’s also time-consuming. That’s why we created a buyer’s guide to save you time but give you all the information needed to make the right roofing material decision. 

The Complete Guide to Purchasing a Roof gives you the advantages and disadvantages of all the roofing materials, plus their cost, lifespan, and warranty options. It also helps you hire a great roofing contractor, how to pay for a new roof, and more. 

Go into the roof replacement process with all the knowledge you need. Keep going to get your free buyer’s guide now.

Since 1990, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has provided high-quality roof replacements to homeowners in Nashville, Tennessee, and surrounding Tennessee areas. We want you and every other homeowner to get a beautiful new roof that will last for decades. 

If you’re local to Nashville, Tennessee, don’t hesitate to contact us today for any of your roofing needs. 

Whether you’re local or not, here’s Your Complete Guide to Purchasing a Roof to make all the right decisions for your upcoming roof replacement.

the complete guide to purchasing a roof