Types of roofing materials

Once upon a time, humanity’s best bets for shelter were caves and trees. Today, we’ve got whole catalogues full of roof options. Asphalt shingles, slate, metal, wood, clay or concrete tiles – homeowners have their pick of a huge array.

Whatever your choice of material, a new roof is an immensely important investment. Any signs of damage to your roof and you could be looking at costly leak mitigation in the very near future. Pick the right roof and you and your home will be protected for years to come. Here are nine different types of roofing material to consider:

Roof shapes and designs

It’s just a roof, right? Surely there aren’t that many ways to do it?

You’d be surprised. For every uniquely designed building people have ever built, they’ve needed to come up with a roof to fit it. From one of the multiple styles of gable roofs you commonly see on homes to domed designs like that of the Capitol Building, many of those unique roof designs have continued to be used over the years.1 Different roof shapes sometimes support particular roof materials better, so consider your shape when you pick your material.

Roofing types

1. Solar roof tiles

Advanced solar collectors integrate seamlessly into existing shingles, generating 13-63 watts of energy per tile.2 They’re particularly good for sunny roofs in homeowners’ associations that forbid typical solar panels. While they may help offset energy costs with solar power, they also cost more than traditional solar options.

How much do solar roof tiles cost?

Solar energy is still a relatively new technology and integrating it into your roof can be pricey. On average, solar roof shingle roofs cost $60,000-75,000 for a standard-sized home.2

2. Asphalt shingles

Asphalt shingles are the most common roofing materials in America because they’re effective in all environmental conditions. Quality varies widely, so ask whether your shingles pass the ASTM D3161, Class F (110 mph) or ASTM D7158, Class H (150 mph) wind tests and are rated class 3 or 4 impact rating.3

How much are asphalt shingles per square foot?

Asphalt shingles aren’t just common because of their effectiveness – they’re also quite inexpensive. The average replacement cost of an asphalt shingle roof ranges from $4,286-6,429, at a price of roughly $1.50-4.50 per square foot.4

3. Metal roofing

Metal roofing comes in vertical panels or shingles resembling slate, tile and shake – and can last 50-70 years. Metal excels at sloughing off heavy snow and rain, won’t burn and resists high winds. It is lightweight and low maintenance compared to roofs of other materials. However, metal can be noisy during rainstorms.5Learn more about the pros and cons of metal roofs.

How much does a metal roof cost?

Metal roofs vary in quality of material and cost. On average, a metal roof can cost anywhere from $9,750-42,750.6

4. Stone-coated steel

Interlocking tiles mimic slate, clay or shingles and resist damage caused by heavy rains (up to 8.8 inches per hour), winds of 120 miles per hour, uplifting, hail and freeze-thaw cycles. Consequently, they’re an economical, effective choice for wet, windy regions or areas prone to wildfires.7

How much does stone coated steel roofing cost?

Stone coated steel is considered a more economic choice when it comes to roofing, with a per square foot cost of $5.40-10.37.7

5. Slate

Slate roofing can last more than 100 years. It won’t burn, is waterproof and resists mold and fungus. Slate is effective in wet climates but is expensive, heavy and may be easily broken when stepped on.8

How much does slate roofing cost?

Don’t go for slate unless you’ve got a very large budget (or a very small roof). Slate roofs can cost as much as $6,000-8,000 per square.8

6. Rubber slate

Rubber shingles are a durable and cost-effective roofing option that can be made in a variety of colors and styles. They can be depended on to last 15-30 years, and repairs are relatively easy if issues arise any earlier. Rubber insulates well too, so some homeowners may find that a rubber roof lowers their energy costs.9

How much are rubber shingles?

As previously mentioned, rubber shingles are an inexpensive option, with an average per square foot cost of $4.25-8.25.9

7. Clay and concrete tiles

Clay and concrete roof tiles can withstand damage from tornadoes, hurricanes or winds up to 125 miles per hour and even earthquakes, according to "A Summary of Experimental Studies on Seismic Performance of Concrete and Clay Roofing Tiles" by the University of Southern California for the Tile Roofing Institute. However, they may require extra support to bear their weight and they are likely to break when walked on.10

How much are clay and concrete roofing tiles?

Clay and concrete tiles reflect their durability with a higher cost. These roofs can cost $10-20 per square foot.11

8. Eco-friendly living roofs

Green roofs are covered with plants and can improve air quality, reduce water runoff and insulate homes to reduce urban heat islands. However, they need extra structural support, a vapor barrier, thermal insulation, waterproofing, drainage, water filtration, soil, compost and plants.12

How much does a living roof cost?

Green roofs average a cost of $10-30 per square foot. Costs rise with the “intensive” version of this roof style, which includes a more in-depth process.13

9. Built-up roofing

This heavy roofing consists of layers of asphalt, tar or adhesive topped with an aggregate and is the most common style for flat roofs. As you might expect for a design used on flat roofs, built-up roofing is great for waterproofing and is also fire resistant. They can last 15 to 30 years.14

How much does a built-up roof cost?

The average cost per square foot of built-up roofing is $2.50-4.00, although this can vary depending on the slope and pitch of your roof.15

Choosing the best roof for your home

The best type of roof for you depends on your climate, budget and house. To see what’s best in your area, talk with licensed roofing contractors and look at some of the newer developments nearby to get ideas on what type of roofing material to use.

Regardless of what type of roof you go with, there is always a chance it can be damaged. Roofing can be expensive, so you want to make sure you’re covered when the unexpected happens. Find out how Better Roof Replacement from Nationwide can help protect your home.

Product, coverage, discounts, insurance terms, definitions, and other descriptions are intended for informational purposes only and do not in any way replace or modify the definitions and information contained in your individual insurance contracts, policies, and/or declaration pages from Nationwide-affiliated underwriting companies, which are controlling. Such products, coverages, terms, and discounts may vary by state and exclusions may apply.