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  • Tom Stratton

A complete guide to understanding the different materials for roofing

A complete guide to understanding the different materials for roofing


A roof plays a vital role in elevating the aesthetics and curbside appeal of your house or building. Roof replacements or roof repair is an expensive affair. It is wise and prudent to thoroughly research and analyze all the pros and cons before deciding on the material you want for your roof. We have put together a comprehensive guide that will help you understand the different materials for roofing available in the market to enable you to make an informed decision.

If you want to know about the most common roof styles and their pros and cons, click here:

Factors to consider while determining roofing materials

Once you have selected the roof style for your home, the next step is to decide the materials for the roof. After all, you want a durable, strong, and aesthetically pleasing roof. 

While selecting the materials, you need to keep in mind the following factors: 

  1. Get the cost of the material from a few vendors and manufacturers before deciding – Speak to us and we will help you with the best cost

  2. Get a few quotes from local roofing contractors on the cost of installation 

  3. Check the material is suited to the weather in your city or town

  4. Determine whether the color options available work for your home or building

  5. Check if the structure of your building can bear the weight of the material.

  6. Ensure that the materials are in alignment with the local building codes

  7. Know the fire code requirements before deciding on the roofing material.

Understanding the different materials for roofing

The sheer variety of materials and options available today can be daunting. Let’s look into the most common roofing materials available in the market today and understand the pros and cons of each.

Asphalt Shingles: 

Asphalt Shingles are one of the most popular and common roofing materials used across the United States. They can be made of fiberglass, asphalt, and composite shingles. Each comes with its unique features. 

  1. Fiberglass shingles are lightweight yet durable.

  2. Composite shingles are a combination of two materials like fiberglass and cellulose, or asphalt and minerals. They are more flexible and so can easily expand and contract.

  3. Organic asphalt shingles are heavier than the others.

  4. The cost of asphalt shingles can range from $1.50 to $5.50 per sq foot (Forbes Home, July 2022)

Asphalt shingles hold up to most weather conditions. They can withstand heavy winds, snow, and rain too. They usually last up to 20 yrs, but extreme humidity can reduce their lifespan. Asphalt shingles can also suit various architectural and roof styles and are relatively easy to install. And more importantly, it is easy and economical to replace damaged shingles. 

(Different types of asphalt shingles)


  1. Least expensive roofing materials

  2. Available in a variety of colors

  3. Can withstand extreme climates

  4. Suitable for most roof types

  5. Easier to replace a single shingle

  6. Easy to install.


  1. Not the most durable material; the average span is 20yrs

  2. It does not last long in places with high humidity and heat

  3. If the shingles are lightweight, they could lift off during high winds

Metal Roofing: 

Metal strips, panels, or tiles are common materials used in roofs. Metal roofs are fast gaining popularity across the US. 

  1. Steel, Copper, Aluminum, and Alloy are the common metals used in roofing. 

  2. Metal shingles can be fabricated to look like asphalt shingles, wood, or clay tiles. 

  3. Roofs made from metal are lightweight yet durable and fire-resistant.

The table below highlights the various metals available in the market, their main features, and their cost: 

(Different types of metals)


  1. Very durable. Depending on the type of metal, they can last from 40 to 100 yrs.

  2. Highly energy efficient as most metals reflect sunlight and hence very suitable for cities with a warm climate

  3. Eco-friendly options, as some metals can be recycled

  4. It can be fabricated to look like wood, tiles, or other materials


  1. More expensive than other materials

  2. Replacing or repairing costs are higher

  3. In case of water accumulation, metal roofs can rust over time.

  4. Needs a skilled professional for installation

Wood Shingles and Shakes: 

Roofs made from wood look attractive and are quite a popular choice for luxury homes. Wood shakes and shingles are both made from natural wood like cedar or redwood; there are some fundamental differences between the two: 

  1. Wood shakes are logs that are sawn on one side, hand-split on the other, and then given a rectangle shape. But because they are hand-split, the shakes are of different sizes and thicknesses, giving the roof a rustic elegance.

  2. Wood shingles are very precisely sawn on both sides; hence they look more uniform and smoother than shakes. 

Though wood shingles are treated with a fire-resistant coating, knowing the fire code regulations in your area or zone is important before deciding on wood for your roofing.

(Wooden shakes v/s shingles)


  1. Durable- it can last up to 60yrs in areas with dry climate

  2. Visually appealing, and it adds aesthetic value to your home

  3. Energy efficient- acts as a natural insulator.

  4. They are made from natural wood, hence they are eco friendly


  1. They cost more than asphalt and metal

  2. It needs to be regularly maintained.

  3. In wet climates, wood shingles can mold or split. 

  4. Flammable and so not a viable option in areas prone to wildfires

Clay Tiles

One of the oldest materials used for roofing, clay tiles are a great option if you want to add texture and elegance to your home. Clay tiles are usually made from terracotta clay which is molded into the desired shape and then fired at high temperatures to harden it.

  1. Clay tiles are usually reddish in color, but sometimes they are coated with a mix of chemicals to give them a glazed look.

  2. It’s most popular in coastal regions and desert areas because it can withstand high heat and humidity. 

  3. These tiles are durable but very heavy, so evaluating the strength of your building and roof structure before opting for clay is essential.

(Terracota Clay tiles)


  1. Clay tiles are highly durable and are low maintenance.

  2. Since they are made from natural materials, clay tiles make for an eco-friendly alternative.

  3. It keeps your home cool during summers and provides insulation from cold during winters.

  4. They are resistant to fire, rot, mold, and insects.

  5. They can withstand extremely high winds.


  1. They cost much more than other roofing materials.

  2. They are heavy; if you are replacing your existing roof with clay tiles, you must get the structure of the existing roof evaluated before opting for clay.

  3. They are not easy to install and will need skilled and professional roofers.

Concrete Tiles

Concrete tiles can be an alternative to clay tiles if you are looking for texture and elegance. Concrete tiles are made by mixing sand, cement, and water and iron- oxide and heating them. Usually, the desired color is added to the cement mixture before molding them.

They are very versatile and can be given any shape and color. They are also less expensive than clay but as heavy.

(Concrete tiles )


  1. They are very versatile and durable; they usually last for 30 to 50yrs

  2. Like clay, concrete tiles are also resistant to fire.

  3. They can stay put even during high winds.

  4. Energy efficient- helps to keep the house warm in winter and cool in summers

  5. They are eco friendly


  1. Concrete tiles are heavy

  2. Its color can fade over time

  3. You will need a skilled roofer to fix or replace these tiles 

Rolled Roofing

Rolled roofing, or mineral surface roofing (MSR), is an oil-based asphalt product with a mineral surface. As the name suggests, this material comes in rolls. Each roll is 100 sq feet long and weighs about 75 pounds. MSR is typically common atop shops, sheds, or low-lying residential buildings. It is one of the cheapest roofing options and can be easily installed by cutting strips of the material and can either be nailed down or glued with cement. 

(Rolled roofing or MSR)


  1. A very inexpensive roofing option

  2. Easy and quick to install

  3. It is pretty versatile and can be used for different styles of homes or buildings

  4. An excellent choice for low-sloped roofs


  1.  Not too many colors or designs available

  2. It is less durable than other materials.

  3. The material is fragile and can easily tear.


We hope the above article will help you decide on the ideal roofing material for your home. If you want to know about the most common roof types, you can check it out here

If you need any help or information regarding  installing/ repairing or re-roofing, you can schedule a free consultation with Tom and Jerry’s Roofing. You can contact them at:   

Or you can even visit their website at


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