The Top 5 Types of Roofing Materials (& How to Choose the Right One)
Choosing the type of roofing material you want for your replacement is a huge decision. You have to research and absorb so much information to choose the right one for your specific situation.
The hardest part of making this big decision is definitely the research side. There’s so much information out there, it’s honestly overwhelming.
Wouldn’t it be great to have the top types of roofing materials and how to decide which one is right for you in one place? If you answered yes, then you’re in the right place.
For over 30 years, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has helped homeowners find the right roofing material for their roof replacement. Now we want to do the same for you.
This article starts by giving you the top 5 types of roofing materials and a little information about each one. After that, we give you the 3 questions you need to ask yourself when choosing which roofing material is right for you.
The top 5 types of roofing materials
There are plenty of roofing materials to choose from for your new roof. However, there are 5 that we see homeowners from all over the country gravitate towards, especially in the Nashville area.
Below you’re going to learn a little about the types of roofing materials before moving on to figure out which one is right for you.
1. Asphalt shingle roof
An asphalt shingle roof is the most common roofing material type you see on homes today. The reason for its popularity is because it’s the most affordable type of roof on the market.
An asphalt roof is made up of primarily asphalt shingles and other asphalt roofing components. The great thing about asphalt roofs is that there are different shingles to choose from based on your budget and the look you want.
(Left to Right: 3-tab, architectural, luxury)
The types of asphalt shingles are 3-tab, dimensional, and luxury. While 3-tab used to dominate the market, dimensional shingles are the most common type installed on roofs today.
Luxury-style shingles are just as heavily marketed as dimensional but are almost double the price. For a deeper breakdown of your shingle options, check out this article on the 3 types of asphalt shingles.
2. Standing seam metal roof
While there are two types of metal roofs, a standing seam metal roof is recommended for residential roofing.
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. 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. 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.
4. 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.
(Composite cedar shake shingles)
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 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.
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.
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.
3 questions to ask yourself to find the right type of roofing material
Now you know the top 5 types of roofing materials. But how do you decide which one is right for you?
That comes down to asking yourself the 3 questions that help you find the right type of roofing material for you.
1. What look do I want my new roof to have?
You may not think about this until meeting with your local roofing contractor, but you need to think about the look you want your roof to have. All 5 types of the roofing materials offer something different to give your roof the exact look you want.
While 3-tab and dimensional asphalt shingle roofs are the most commonly seen around the country, they don’t give you a look that stands out in your neighborhood. If your roof’s look isn’t important, I would recommend going with either of these asphalt shingle roofs.
However, if you really want your roof to stand out, you should consider a luxury asphalt shingle, standing seam metal roof, synthetic roof, cedar shake roof, or slate roof.
The 5 top types of roofing materials all look good. You just need to decide what look you want your new roof to have.
2. Which type of roofing material fits my budget?
A new roof is always going to be an investment. When deciding on which type of roofing material to choose, you need to choose the one that fits your budget.
If you’re looking for the most affordable option or have a tight budget, an asphalt shingle roof might be right for you. But if budget isn’t a major deciding factor, you have more flexibility to choose metal or one of the premium roof systems.
If you’re interested in learning how much you’ll have to budget for based on the type of roofing material you choose, check out The Average Cost to Tear Off and Replace Your Roof.
3. How long do I want my new roof to last?
When investing in an important purchase like a roof, you expect to get as much out of it as possible. That’s why you need to consider the lifespans of the different types of roofing materials.
The 3 types of asphalt shingles have a lifespan range of around 25-30 years, depending on which one you choose. A cedar shake roof’s lifespan is also around 30 years, but you could possibly get up to 50 years if you invest in quality materials and live in an area with the right conditions.
If you’re looking for a little more durability, a composite shingle roof (40-50 years) and a standing seam metal roof (50 years) are the way to go. But if you’re looking for the longest-lasting roofs on the market, a slate roof is the way to go with a lifespan of 75 to 100 years.
To learn more about the lifespans of the different types of roofing materials, read this article on how long your new roof will last.
Did you decide which type of roofing material is right for you?
Now you know the 3 questions you need to ask yourself when deciding which of the different types of roofing materials is right for you. But after reading this, are you still struggling to find the right type of roofing material for your replacement?
If so, we have a guide that has all the advantages and disadvantages of the roofing materials above. But that’s not all the guide gives you.
It also gives you the cost, how to find a great roofing contractor, how to pay for a new roof, and much more. Learn everything you need to know about your upcoming roof replacement by getting The Complete Guide to Purchasing a Roof now.
Since 1990, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has helped the residents of Nashville find the perfect roof for them. We provide an experience rare in the roofing industry that’s based on education, customer service, and high-quality workmanship.
Here’s your Complete Guide to Purchasing a Roof to learn everything there’s to know about buying a new roof.