10 Types of Roofing Materials

Looking to upgrade your roof? One of these roofing material options should work for you, your home and your climate.

Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.

1 / 10

View of two perpendicular apex roofs with slate tiles
ma-k/Getty Images

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles, a fiberglass or felt base topped with waterproof asphalt, are the most commonly used roofing product according to Jeff Sklar, roofing expert and owner of First Impressions Exteriors in Golden Valley, Minnesota. They’re available in many different colors and styles.

According to Sklar, asphalt shingles “are relatively easy to perform repairs on and diagnose issues.” They’re a great choice for homeowners who want lots of visual customization options at relatively low cost.


  • Inexpensive;
  • Easy to install;
  • Available various colors and styles.


  • Susceptible to storm damage

Cost: Between $5 and $8 per sq. ft.

2 / 10

Metal Roof
Sonia De Leon/Getty Images

Metal Roofing

Metal roofing can come in panels or shingles, with a stone-coated or painted finish. Due to its exceptional durability, Sklar says metal roofing is a better alternative to asphalt shingles, albeit more expensive.

“A metal roof can last as long as three asphalt roofs,” says Sklar. Due to its exceptionally long lifespan, Sklar says metal roofing is best for those planning on living in their homes for a long time.


  • Longevity;
  • Durability;
  • Attractive appearance.


  • Really expensive;
  • Can be difficult to install on some roof styles.

Cost: Between $9 and $20 per sq. ft.

3 / 10

Gable dormer window and wood shingled roof
benedek/Getty Images

Cedar Shake

Cedar shake roofing is made from trees roughly milled into individual “shakes” or shingles, creating a rustic, hand-crafted look. However, this requires a significant amount of roof maintenance to prevent drying or moss growth. According to Sklar, that can be costly and time-consuming.


  • Great appearance if maintained correctly;
  • Eco-friendly.


  • Expensive;
  • Difficult to repair;
  • Must be treated regularly to prevent deterioration.

Cost: Between $15 and $20 per sq. ft.

4 / 10

Closeup of the red clay roof tiles as a background
R.Tsubin/Getty Images

Clay Tile Shingles

Clay tiles are made from hardened clay. According to Pat Overson, owner of Overson Roofing in Phoenix, Arizona, they’ll last up to 50 years.

You’ll find them in two styles: S-tile and two-piece. Both provide an aesthetically pleasing, high-end look. “Clay tile roofing is best for homes in drier climates because of the heat resistant capabilities and fits into the Southwest style of the homes in the area,” Overson says.


  • Long-lasting;
  • Fire-resistant;
  • Low-maintenance.


  • Expensive;
  • Challenging to install.

Cost: Between $7 and $9 per sq. ft.

5 / 10

Composite Synthetic Shingle Roof Surrounded By Autumn Trees
constantgardener/Getty Images

Composite Roof

Composite roof shingles combine polymers and other engineered materials and come in a range of styles. Commonly used as a synthetic alternative to natural roofing materials like cedar shake or slate, composite shingles provide a similar look and feel with added moisture resistance.

Sklar says in his region, “Lots of property owners are switching from cedar shake to composite roof shingles because it’s similar in cost but more durable, lasts longer, looks better, doesn’t fade, and resists algae growth.” Composite roofs would be best for homeowners seeking a natural look without the need for constant maintenance.


  • Durable;
  • Moisture-resistant;
  • Looks like the real thing.


  • Expensive.

Cost: Between $12 and $16 per sq. ft.

6 / 10

Close-up of dark gray roof slates
northlightimages/Getty Images


Slate tiles are cut from natural slate stone, a hard, metamorphic rock. Used for centuries and known for its extremely long lifespan, slate upgrades your home’s curb appeal. It’s really heavy, though, so make sure your roof can handle the weight.

Slate roofs are best for homeowners who can afford a premium material and want to keep roof replacements and maintenance to a minimum.


  • Can last up to 200 years;
  • Looks great;


  • Expensive;
  • Heavy

Cost: Between $10 and $30 per sq. ft. (material only).

7 / 10

Flexible tile is made of fiberglass impregnated with bitumen. Texture of orange roof close up.
Ivan Kovbasniuk/Getty Images

Fiberglass Shingles

According to Grant Casteel, general manager of Bone Dry Roofing, fiberglass shingles are a thick, durable option for homes that require a more rugged material. They’re lighter than asphalt shingles. “They also are designed in layered dimensional sheets,” he says, “which gives the illusion of a more expensive shingle such as cedar and/or slate.”

Their durability makes them best for homes in areas of frequent severe weather. Casteel says their algae-resistant properties are especially suitable for wooded environments with high rainfall.


  • Durable and tear-resistant;
  • Algae-resistant;
  • More fire-resistant than asphalt shingles.


  • May not last as long as more expensive options.

Cost: Between $0.75 and $1.60 per sq. ft. (material only).

8 / 10

Solar panels on roof
kevinjeon00/Getty Images

Solar Tile

Solar tiles are small individual solar panels that cover the entire roof, creating a neat, uniform look. While some can replace your existing roof, others simply lay on top, lowering the installation cost.

Solar tiles are expensive, but their ability to transform the sun’s rays into energy can offset the initial cost. They’re best for homes in direct sunlight for most of the year whose owners can stomach the large upfront price.


  • Generate power for your home;
  • Sleek look;
  • Cleaner look than bulky solar panels.


  • Expensive;
  • Limited style options

Cost: Between $20 and $30 per sq. ft.

9 / 10

Lebanon Hills Green Roof and Gardens
jferrer/Getty Images

Living Roof

A living roof, also known as a “green roof,” are among the most sustainable roof materials available. A living roof features live vegetation planted on top of a waterproof membrane. The vegetation makes an excellent insulator, preventing the drastic temperature swings found on conventional roofs.

Installing a living roof is more complex than the other options on our list. For starters, you’ll need to ensure your structure is strong enough to support its substantial weight. A stark visual contrast to other roofing options, a living roof could be the perfect fit for those looking to embrace an environmentally-friendly concept.


  • Great insulator;
  • Environmentally friendly;
  • Long-lasting.


  • Expensive;
  • Challenging to install.

Cost: According to Pacific Horticulture, between $30 and $40 per sq. ft.

10 / 10

Detail of roof with tiles
ajma_pl/Getty Images

Concrete Tile

Concrete tiles have been used as water-resistant roofing material for centuries, providing natural durability and a long lifespan. They can be molded into various shapes and profiles, and different tints let you choose from pretty much any color imaginable.

Concrete tiles are really heavy, though, and a challenge to install. They’re ideal for homeowners seeking a versatile material with maximum customization.


  • Extremely versatile;
  • Durable;
  • Energy efficient.


  • Expensive;
  • Really heavy.

Cost: Between $10 and $30 per sq. ft.

Alex Rennie
Alex Rennie is a freelance writer who specializes in the home improvement, DIY, and appliance space. Having spent more than five years as a residential and commercial carpenter in NYC–specializing in custom furniture construction and installation–Alex uses his hands-on experience and expert insight to craft product reviews, buying guides, and how-to articles. He has previously written for CNN Underscored, Business Insider, and Popular Mechanics, in addition to Family Handyman. He currently lives in Los Angeles, CA, where he spends his free time hiking and relaxing on the beach with his wife and their two dogs, Louie and Iggy.