What is the Best Roofing Material?

When looking for a home, not a lot of thought goes into the roof. There may be questions about how old the roof is or if an inspection finds any problems that need to be addressed. Short of a complete tear-off, many homeowners just accept that’s what their roof will be.

However, it’s one of the most important aspects of the home. The largest uninterrupted part of the home, it plays a huge part in energy efficiency, curb appeal, and overall health of the home. Asphalt shingle roofs are one of the most common types of roofing materials, but the industry has come a long way during the last few decades.

With such a wide variety of styles, profiles, colors, and materials, perhaps it’s time to reconsider a new roof as one of the tasks on your home improvement list. In fact, this is a perfect time to think about it so the house improvements and roof upgrade can be designed together.

The same can be said for those looking to build a home, or even a duplex, or apartment complex. Whether you’re building a forever home or investing in an income property, keep an eye on the bottom line. Decisions made today could affect your home years later.

Roofing Considerations


Any home remodels of note will come with a price tag. Even switching out a few windows can run in the thousands depending on the quality, style, and design. Adding a bay window involves construction and even changing the size of a window could involve additional work on both the interior and exterior of the home.

Roofing is the same way. Materials, labor, and the kind of residence being worked on play a part in a new roof, and that’s even before what kind of roof shingles are chosen! When replacing a roof, consider what kind of home you’re working with. High-quality (and expensive!) slate roofing might seem out of place on an 800-square foot rental.

Just like asphalt shingles could really affect the look and return on investment on a 3,000 square foot executive home. That doesn’t mean you have to use slate or metal roofing, but you could think about architectural shingles as a nice middle ground.

The architecture of the home has a lot to do with a new roof as well. Flat roofs homes and roofs with a slope have different needs. Flat roofs are cheaper because there’s less square footage to work with. Pitched-roof housing costs more but has more flexibility because of available options.


The needs of a starter house, a rental property, or forever home can vary greatly. If a homeowner is planning on leaving after five years, will they want to choose a roof that will last for 50 years? Or does 30 years make more sense?

Make no mistake – spending on a roof is an investment that will provide a good ROI. But more durability means more money. There is also peace of mind knowing that the more you spend upfront, the less you’ll have to think about it in the future.


Homeowners come in many shapes and sizes and ages. Which means they may not be able to perform the service required to get the most out of the roof. Certainly, they can hire an experienced roofing contractor to perform the maintenance. But is that a cost that was considered when choosing a new roof?

Types of Roofing

While cost is always going to be a factor, it shouldn’t be the only way to choose a roofing material. The style of the home will play a part as well as the area of the country. In the Pacific Northwest, it’s important to choose a product that can handle all four seasons. In the South, energy-efficiency and insulative properties are important.

Below is a list of the most common roofing materials used today in no particular order. As you’ll see, there are advantages and disadvantages to every kind of material. A homeowner has to consider what matters most to them and make their decisions based on that.

Cedar Wood Shake – This distinctive roof covering will give you years of protection as well as looking fantastic. Cedar is naturally resistant to the elements and if treated and maintained properly, wood shingles can be quite long-lasting. The cedar shakes will also offer more insulation than other forms of roof coverings.

However, wood roofing aesthetics and longevity come at a price. Harder to install and maintain, which will increase labor costs. The shakes themselves are also more expensive than wallet-friendly asphalt shingles. While cedar wood shakes do a great job of handling the weather, they are also more susceptible to fire. In some cases, you may even need additional home insurance.

Metal Roofing – One of the more expensive roofing options, metal roofing is making a real push into the high-end residential market. In the past, metal roofing was reserved for industrial or commercial purposes because of longevity and sturdiness. With advances in metal roofing technology, however, a wider range of designs and colors are available to give the home a one of a kind look.

We said high-end for a reason – but only in initial costs. Considering metal roofing can last up to 75 years, need less maintenance, and hold their color for decades. The need for replacements or upgrades is almost nil. However, it’s important to use a professional roofing contractor that has experience with metal. Installation is simpler in some ways, but there is a specific way to do it.

Slate Tile Roofing – When properly installed, these roofs may last for 100 years and longer. The perfect accent for elegant modern home design, slate is the perfect combination of aesthetics and strength – beauty and the beast if you will. Very resistant to fire, water absorption, and mold, slate is often referred to as a “forever” material.

As far as price ranges are considered, slate appears at the top of the list. Slate is also one of the heaviest roofing materials on the market, sometimes adding more than 500 pounds to a structure. Not every roof has been constructed to handle that additional weight, so engineering may be required.

Clay Tiles – Popular on Mediterranean or European style homes, clay tiles are also quite common in the Southern United States because of their energy efficiency. These tiles weather incredibly well and can be made in a variety of styles. As far as curb appeal, clay tiles add an extra level of class and flair.

As we learned with slate, though, good looks cost good money. Clay tiles can be nearly three times as expensive as asphalt shingles and are certainly more difficult to install. Because of this – and a propensity to chip when mishandled – it’s important this roofing job is left to seasoned professionals. They are also much heavier, necessitating an inspection of the structure before installation.

Architectural Shingles – Very similar to asphalt shingles, only much more durable. Asphalt shingles have one layer of material over a base. Architectural shingles have multiple layers, can be made with different profiles that can mimic other materials and have a lifespan of up to 50 years.

They aren’t as durable as other materials such as metal or slate, though. It’s a nice choice for those who want more bang for their buck while still making the home look great. They can be made in a variety of colors, too.

Concrete Tiles – Made with raw and naturally occurring materials, concrete tiles are durable, versatile, and an environmentally-friendly option. They can be made in a variety of different shapes and colors along with the ability to mimic the look of other materials such as wood or slate.

The strength that makes concrete so appealing in construction also makes it quite heavy, so the roof structure needs to be able to handle it. Concrete tiles also weather quite quickly, causing streaks and other discoloration. Like clay tiles, they can also chip easily during installation.

Asphalt Shingles – The cheapest option on this list, asphalt shingles are very common throughout the U.S. Taking the place as the most accessible shingles from the rarely used 3-tab shingles, asphalt shingles can be made in different styles and colors. Easy to install, lightweight, and lasting up to 30 years, asphalt is a viable option for both new homes and home remodels.

There are really only two cons to asphalt shingles: the appearance and longevity. Of course, those are two pretty big cons. That’s why it is so important to understand exactly what you want out of your roof. Asphalt shingles will do the job in basic situations, but don’t offer much of a Wow Factor.

Professional Roof Installation

No matter what kind of roof you put on your house, it won’t matter much if it is poorly installed. That’s why finding the roofer is just as important as deciding what material you go with. Every roofer should know how to install asphalt or architectural shingles. But are they comfortable with cedar shakes, metal, or composite slate shingles?

Since 1992, Warner Roofing and Construction has been performing installations on Clark County homes. We also provide roof maintenance, re-roofing options, and roofing features such as gutter, skylight, and solar tube installations. When it comes to protecting the biggest investment most of us will make, it’s important to go with a professional, experienced, and friendly roofer. Contact Warner Roofing and Construction today.

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