Top 10 Roofing Materials: Costs Installed, Pros & Cons, ROI

Roofing for your home is available in an attractive and durable range of materials for all budgets.

This buying guide discusses the top 10 roofing materials in detail – pros, cons, prices for each and the value it will add to your home.

Today’s top 10 roofing materials are:

  1. Composition Asphalt Shingles
  2. Metal Roofing (steel, aluminum)
  3. Zinc Roofing
  4. Copper Roofing
  5. Natural Slate
  6. Clay Tiles
  7. Concrete Tiles
  8. Cedar Shingles and Shakes
  9. Composite Shingles
  10. Rubber Shingles

The information will help you select roofing with the appearance and performance you expect.

  1. Composition Shingles

Composition shingles, aka asphalt shingles, are made from layers of fiberglass mat saturated with asphalt, topped with granules that provide UV reflection and color.

A CertainTeed XT 25 strip shingle in the color Evergreen

Did you know? Composition shingles remain the best-selling roofing material in the US, currently with about 75% of the market share. But its dominance is shrinking.

The pros and cons below tell you why asphalt shingles are popular and why other materials are gaining ground.

What we like:

Composition shingles are an affordable roofing choice with prices ranging from cheap to middle of the pack when compared with your other option.

Composition shingles offer the largest selection: The color spectrum is from white to black with many hues of tan, red, blue, green, brown and charcoal. That’s just the start of your choices.

Most fiberglass composition shingle manufacturers make three styles:

  1. 3-Tab Shingles have a flat profile divided into three sections or tabs. The term strip shingles is also used for shingles like the CertainTeed XT30 and Owens Corning Supreme. They’re cheap asphalt shingles backed by warranties of 20-30 years.
  2. Architectural aka Dimensional Shingles have a thicker profile due to layers of overlapping material. Architectural asphalt shingles are the best-selling type from leading brands. Warranties range from 30 years to lifetime on lines such as GAF Timberline and CertainTeed Landmark Premium.
  3. Premium Shingles are the beefiest architectural shingles. Their thicker profile produces the kind of depth and shadowing you get with genuine wood shakes and slate tiles. Most have a 50-year to lifetime warranty. Some of the top-selling shingles in this category are GAF Woodland, CertainTeed Grand Manor and Atlas StormMaster Shake.

Several specialty shingle types are also available:

Impact resistant composition shingles, labeled with IR, are modified with SBS (styrene-butadiene-styrene), so they don’t easily crack or dent.

Most IR shingles are architectural style. Best-selling impact resistant shingles include Atlas StormMaster, IKO Armourshake and GAF ArmourShield II.

GAF Timberline® ArmorShield™ II Roof shingles on a House Photo

CertainTeed XT30 IR are one of the few 3-tab impact resistant shingles.

Algae-resistant shingles resist algae growth that eventually causes staining. A portion of the granules contain algae-killing copper.

Atlas makes shingles with the best algae-resistant warranties in the industry – Lifetime or 40 years on 7 different lines including Legend, Pinnacle Pristine and the StormMaster lines. Atlas uses a proprietary ScotchGard coating to improve resistant to algae growth and staining.

Cool roof shingles have better solar reflectivity than standard shingles. Some are certified by the Cool Roofing Rating Council (CRRC) to reduce heat gain by up to 40%.

CertainTeed Presidential Solaris and Landmark Solaris are top-rated cool roof shingle lines. Malarkey 3-tab Dura-Seal lines are also CRRC shingles.

Installation is quick and easy: This reduces labor cost, and if you’re a handy homeowner, DIY is possible.

What we don’t like:

They don’t last as long as many roofing types: Expect 15-30 years from asphalt shingles based on their quality and your climate. Longevity is worst in hot, sunny climates that cause the shingles to dry out and crack.

Warranty claims are difficult to prove: Many claims are denied on the basis that the shingles were not installed properly. The warranty covers manufacturing defects, not faulty installation.

Did you know? Many major manufacturers including CertainTeed, Owens Corning and GAF, have settled class action lawsuits over failure to pay legitimate claims.

Most composition shingles are land-filled: Shingles can be recycled, but there are very few facilities doing it.

Did you know? Our research found that shingle recycling facilities receive far more shingles than they can handle. Those that can’t be recycled in a timely fashion are shipped to a landfill.

Composition Shingle Cost

Asphalt shingles cost starts at about $250 per square (100 square feet) and can exceed $550 per square installed. Here are some examples of installed costs.

3-tab shingles: $250-$450 per square installed

Architectural shingles: $275-$550 per square installed

Premium architectural shingles: $350-$750 per square installed

Installation cost factors include the specific shingle product and the slope and complexity of the roof.

Install Roof Shingles

$7,500
Average price
Install Metal Roof

$15,000
Average price
Install Flat Roof

$9,000
Average price

See costs in your area Start Here - Enter Your Zip Code

ROI

A fresh set of asphalt shingles gives you a return of about 68% according to Remodeling Magazine, the leading source for ROI data.

The best return is realized when the shingles used fit the neighborhood. In other words, if homes in your area use architectural and premium shingles, you should too, or ROI will suffer.

On the other hand, return will be lower if you use high-end shingles on a home in a low-cost neighborhood.

  1. Metal Roofing – Steel & Aluminum

Metal roofing has come a long way in the last few decades, and the options are impressive for both appearance and performance.

Did you know? Most of the market share lost by asphalt composition shingles is gained by metal, which now accounts for about 15% of new roofs.

What we like about Metal:

Let’s take a look at metal roofing pros and cons, starting with its advantages.

Your options have multiplied: There are four steel and aluminum roofing materials to consider.

  1. Corrugated Metal Roofing panels are the most traditional and affordable. They are produced in affordable galvanized and longer-lasting Galvalume, both in a range of thickness/cost options.
  2. Standing Seam Metal Panels available in many different designs raise the seam 1-2 inches to keep it out of the flow of rainwater running down the roof. It is today’s most popular metal roofing styles.

Both galvanized steel and Galvalume are used in metal roofing.

  1. Metal Shingles and Tiles are available in steel and aluminum. The tiles are stamped to look like natural slate tiles, clay tiles and wood shakes.

CertainTeed and Tamko are now making metal shingles! The products are CertainTeed Matterhorn and Tamko MetalWorks.

  1. Stone-coated Steel Shingles and Tiles are stamped steel or aluminum. Stone granules in a resin blend cover the roofing.

Decra is the leading brand of stone-coated steel roofing, but there are several others.

Here are additional benefits and advantages of metal:

Metal offers superior durability: Galvanized steel lasts 50+ years when maintained. Galvalume has been in use since the 1970s but is expected to last 70+ years. Aluminum lasts 60-100 years.

Lifetime cost is low: When initial and maintenance costs are spread over the lifetime of the roof, total cost is lower than that of most other materials.

Steel and Aluminum are Eco-friendly: Recycled metal makes up about 40% of steel and more than 80% of aluminum roofing. Both are easily recycled.

Aluminum is lightweight and easy to work with: Aluminum shingles and tiles 50-80 pounds per square. Steel roofs weigh 100-150 pounds per square. For comparison, the heaviest asphalt shingles weigh 250-400+ pounds per square! 😉

Clay and concrete tile and slate weigh far more. To give you an idea of the value of aluminum shingles, Classic Roofing shingles offers a lifetime, non-prorated warranty. That’s something no asphalt shingle brand would consider.

What we don’t like:

There are a few drawbacks to steel and aluminum metal roofs.

Metal costs more than composition shingles: Initial cost is 2-4 times that of asphalt shingles, and if you sell your home, you won’t get the full value from your investment.

They can be noisy, if your roof doesn’t have the attic space: While sound-dampening underlayment is used, metal roofs are still loud in heavy rain, hail and when hit by objects as light as falling acorns.

Steel can rust: If the paint or coating is severely damaged, beyond the self-healing layer of zinc, then corrosion can begins quickly if not repaired.

Dents can happen: Large hail and heavy debris can damage metal roofing. In fairness, the kind of hail that would damage a hail-rated metal roof, would probably cause an even greater damage to an asphalt roof.

Steel and Aluminum Roofing Cost

Here are the installed prices for the top four metal roof types discussed:

Corrugated and Ribbed steel panels: $350-$550 per square installed

Standing seam steel or aluminum panels: $700-$1,400 per square installed

Aluminum shingles and tiles: $850-$1,300 per square installed

Stone coated steel: $700-$1,200 per square installed

Estimated Roof Costs (1620 s.f.)
Asphalt Shingles
Metal Roofing
Flat Roof
$7,500
$15,000
$9,000
See Roof Costs in Your Area

ROI

Due to its durability and longevity, metal has an 80% to 85% return. Be sure to choose a style consistent with what is used in your area.

  1. Zinc Roofing

Zinc has natural corrosion resistance.

In fact, galvanized steel is steel hot-dipped in zinc. Galvalume is steel dipped in a zinc aluminum alloy.

Did you know? Across Europe, about 70% of homes have zinc roofs! It is chosen for its long-lasting performance.

In the US, Rheinzink is the leading manufacturer of quality zinc roofing.

What we like:

These zinc roofing pros show why it is so popular in Europe.

Zinc is durable and self-healing: Zinc roofs commonly last 100+ years. The material develops a patina that fights corrosion. In fact, when scratched, the damaged area develops patina that fills in the scratch, so it disappears.

It requires little maintenance: Dirt and debris are easily washed away in a heavy rain to with a hose.

Zinc can be painted or left bare: Quality coatings will last 10-20 years before the roof requires repainting. Bare zinc has a classic appearance.

Zinc is green: Less energy is needed to produce zinc than other metal roofing, and it is recyclable.

You have panel and shingle options: Most zinc roofs are formed with panels, but shingles are produced too.

It shares other metal roof benefits: It won’t burn and resists insects.

What we don’t like:

Initial cost is high: The higher upfront cost compared to asphalt and cedar shingles is offset by a lower lifetime cost, since zinc lasts “forever.”

Zinc Roofing Cost

Expect to pay $875 to $1,500 per square for a zinc roof installed.

Zinc shingles and tiles: $875-$1,400 per square.

Zinc standing seam panels: $1,100-$1,500 per square.

Cost factors are the thickness (gauge) of the zinc, whether it is coated and the complexity of the roof structure.

ROI

Because of zinc’s durability and low lifetime cost, its return is 72% to 80%.

  1. Copper Roofing

Copper is metal roofing with unsurpassed beauty. It is used as primary roofing and as accent roofing on dormers or other portions of a roof.

What we like:

Copper looks great: Whether kept polished or allowed to develop patina, copper offers classic beauty.

It’s metal qualities: It resists fire and insects, lasts 100+ years and can be recycled.

What we don’t like:

The initial cost is very high: It’s one of the most expensive roof materials, but has a reasonable lifetime cost.

It is soft: Copper isn’t as rugged as steel, so is more easily damaged.

Copper Roofing Cost

The installed cost of copper is $1,200 to $2,400 per square.

Cost factors are the copper gauge and whether it is coated to slow the patina.

ROI

In an upscale neighborhood, copper’s return is 68% to 74%. It is lower where it is out of place.

  1. Natural Slate

Slate is a classic roofing materials mimicked by asphalt, composite and metal shingles. Its luxury and sustainability are second to none.

Much of the US-produced slate is mined and sold by Vermont companies like the Vermont Slate Company and Greenstone Slate.

What we like:

Slate is beautiful: It exudes elegance and traditional good looks in a range of greens, grays, reds, browns, blues and purples.

Durability is outstanding: Slate roof longevity is measured in centuries.

Slate handles the elements: A properly installed slate roof withstands all kinds of weather.

Maintenance is minimal: Rain takes care of most cleaning. Some slate must be washed every decade or so.

What we don’t like:

Slate is costly: The lifetime cost is low, but the upfront cost is the highest on this list. Repair is expensive too, though rarely needed.

Slate Roofing Cost

Expect to pay $1,200 to $2,400 per roofing square installed.

Cost factors are the type of slate used, how far it is shipped and the complexity of the roof.

ROI

As with other expensive materials, ROI is best in upscale neighborhoods. Where slate is used, its beauty and durability produce a return of 67% to 75%.

  1. Clay Tiles

Here’s another long-lasting, traditional roofing material for use on mid-range to upscale homes.

Standard clay tiles are most common, but lightweight mixes are available at a 40% weight reduction.

What we like:

You have style and options: Traditional barrel styles with a high profile remain the most popular. But the many other styles include domed, tapered, shingle & shake looks and those with fairly flat profiles. An appealing range of colors and blended hues are produced.

Durability is very good: Expect a minimum of 50 years durability. Many profiles last twice that long. Warranties are 50-75 years.

Clay resists the elements and more: It has a Class A fire rating, 2-inch hail rating and 150mph wind rating.

It provides good lifetime value: Over the course of 75 years, a home will need 3-5 asphalt shingle roofs but just one clay roof.

Clay is sustainable: The material is readily available, doesn’t require excessive energy to produce tiles and tiles are reusable and recyclable.

Boral is a leading US producer of classic clay tile. It also makes concrete roofing tile. Ludowici has made high-end, very attractive clay roofing tile for more than 125 years.

What we don’t like:

High upfront cost: It costs more than most other options.

Standard tiles are heavy: They last longer than lightweight clay tiles, but traditional clay tiles might require structural upgrades to the roof to support their weight.

Proper installation is essential: When the job is done incorrectly, water leaks and damage occur.

Clay Tile Cost

The range is about $800 to $2,400 per square. Most clay tile cost falls in the range of $1,100-$1500 per square installed.

Cost factors are the tile composition and profile and roof factors such as its slope and the number of obstacles like dormers and chimneys to work around.

ROI

In the South, Southwest and California, clay roofing brings a return averaging about 70%. Where it is little used, ROI drops to about 60%.

  1. Concrete Tiles

Concrete tiles were developed as a lower-cost alternative to clay. Price is lower, but so is longevity.

The pros and cons are similar, such as a good range of styles and colors, so we can be brief here.

What we like:

Affordability vs. clay: Cost is 20% to 40% lower than clay tiles.

Resistance to the elements: Concrete has the same ratings as clay.

Sustainability is fair: Concrete takes more energy to produce than clay, but it can be recycled too.

Durability is good: Concrete tiles last 40-70 years depending on the specific product and maintenance.

Eagle Roofing Products is the largest US. manufacturer of concrete roofing tiles.

What we don’t like:

Concrete requires more maintenance: The material absorbs moisture more readily than clay, so concrete tiles must be sealed every 2-5 years at a cost of $1.50-$2.50 per square foot.

Concrete Tile Roofing Cost

The range is $800 to $1,600 per square with an average cost of about $1,000 per square installed.

Cost factors are the specific tile used and roof factors.

ROI

The return is about the same as for clay. Expect an ROI of 60% to 70% based on your location.

  1. Cedar Shingles and Shakes

Sawed cedar shingles with uniform appearance and split cedar shakes beautify any home.

What we like:

Versatile good looks: Genuine wood is tough to beat for natural good looks. Cedar shakes and shingles are versatile enough for use on any style home from rustic and traditional to contemporary and modern.

Good value: Cost is reasonable, and they last up to twice as long as asphalt shingles when properly maintained.

They resist most elements: Cedar naturally resists moisture and insects. Wind resistance is better than that for asphalt composition shingles.

Sustainability: Most cedar comes from managed forests. The wood can be recycled or reused.

What we don’t like:

Wood is flammable: While the wood can be treated to slow the spread of fire, it is more susceptible than other roofing materials.

Repair is difficult: Replacing a few cedar shingles is time-consuming, so it’s costly, and the new shingles will affect aesthetics by being brighter than those surrounding them.

Maintenance demand is high: The roof must be cleared of leaves and other debris that will trap moisture against it and cause rot and staining. For best durability, the wood should be periodically sealed.

The weathering of wood: Some consider the graying to be part of the character of cedar shakes and shingles, but not everyone likes it.

Cedar Shake and Shingle Roofing Cost

Cedar shakes cost more than shingles.

Cedar shingle cost: $700 to $1,100 per square installed.

Cedar shake cost: $800 to $1,300 per square installed.

ROI

Curb appeal is outstanding with this natural wood roofing, and that boosts return to 68% to 72%.

  1. Composite Shingles (Fake Slate, Fake Shakes)

Composite shingles and shakes are made from synthetic materials including plastics, polymers, fiberglass and calcium carbonate. Blends vary significantly among manufacturers.

Did you know? Composite roofing uses up to 100% recycled, post-consumer content.

What we like:

They look very real: When installed on a roof, these products look very much like real wood and slate.

Excellent durability: Composite roofing isn’t susceptible to mildew and rot like genuine wood. Longevity is up to three times greater than asphalt shingles.

50% savings over slate: You’ll pay much less and have a roof that lasts 40-60 years.

Lightweight design: At 200-400 pounds per square, they weigh about the same as composition shingles.

Class A fire and Class 4 impact ratings: These are the highest ratings given to residential roofing materials.

Easy to install and maintain: They are installed similarly to asphalt shingles, and a light wash might be all they occasionally need for cleaning.

Best sellers include EnviroShake and DaVinci Roofscapes composite shingles, but there are several other brands we discuss that are worth considering.

What we don’t like:

Higher upfront cost compared to wood and asphalt You’ll pay two to three times more for composite than for composition shingles and about 50% more than you would for cedar shingles and shakes.

Composite Roofing Cost

The cheapest composite starts at about $800 per square. The most expensive is $1,300 per square. Most homeowners pay between $800 and $1,000 per square.

ROI

A good combination of affordability, durability and looks produces a return of 64% to 70%.

  1. Rubber Shingles

Rubber roof shingles are produced to look like slate and cedar shakes and shingles. The most common formulations are recycled tires.

What we like:

Cost is lower than slate: You’ll get a slate-look roof for less than half the price, and it will still last 30-50 years.

Durability is better than cedar: If you choose a wood look, you’ll get 10-15 more years from premium rubber roofing for about the same cost.

Recycled and reclaimed material is used: Content in most rubber shingles like those from EuroShield is 75% to 95% post-consumer waste.

Excellent weather resistance: Rubber resists moisture, heat, insects, high winds, impact and even fire.

Low maintenance requirements: The roof might need periodic washing if algae or mold develop.

Energy efficiency: Rubber is a good insulator.

The leading US seller of rubber shingles is EuroShield.

What we don’t like:

Odor is an issue: Rubber shingles have an initial odor that can be quite strong. It dissipates gradually.

Appearance doesn’t appeal to all: Look at a few homes with rubber shingles before you choose them. Homeowners are divided on how well they replicate genuine slate and shakes.

Rubber Shingles Cost

Installed cost is $700 to $1,100 per square.

Cost varies by manufacturer. Installation factors such as the slope and shape of the roof affect cost too.

Rubber Shingles ROI

Because many homeowners aren’t familiar with this material, it is difficult to evaluate its return value. Expect about a 70% return where rubber shingles are used in area homes, and a lower return where rarely used.

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