Most roofing materials last at least 20 years and some can last more than 50 years. But unfortunately, no roofing materials last indefinitely. Eventually, it's going to be time to get a new roof.

Deciding which type of roof material to get can be a difficult decision. Let's explore some of the most common roofing materials and their advantages and drawbacks.


Technically, asphalt shingles aren't made of pure asphalt—they consist of fiberglass and ceramic as well. Asphalt shingles are the most common roofing material. They're popular for a couple of reasons.

  • Versatility. Asphalt can be used on many different types of roofs, from low to steep.

  • Affordability. Asphalt is the least expensive roofing material, between $75 and $200 per square.

Asphalt shingles aren't the most durable roofing material available. They may break off in high winds and could attract algae in humid weather. However, algae-resistant asphalt is available.


Metal roofing has increased in popularity over the years. A metal roof can be made of a variety of different metals, including aluminum, steel, and copper. It has many benefits, including:

  • Strength. Metal will not burn in a fire like a wood roof will. Plus, metal roofs can last up to 50 years.

  • Energy efficiency. Because it reflects the sun, metal can keep your home cooler. This helps you save money on utility bills.

Some people don't prefer metal roofs because they don't like the appearance. Others don't like the loud noise they make when it rains.


Many homeowners prefer the traditional choice of woods like cedar or redwood. Its advantages include:

  • Appearance. When most people think of the ideal roof, they picture wood shingles. Wood shingles look rustic and natural and come in many colors and shades.

  • Eco-friendly. Wood shingles take the lowest amount of energy to produce. Wood also produces the lowest CO2 emissions and is easy to recycle and reuse.

However, wood shingles are flammable, presenting a danger. They also require a lot of maintenance. You'll need to add fungicide and preservative every few years to prevent mold and decay. They have the shortest lifespan as well, between 15 and 25 years.


Slate is a roofing material that's often installed on older homes and historic homes. You might want to choose it based on:

  • Longevity. Slate is incredibly durable and can last 100 years or more.

  • Strength. Slate stays strong even in heavy winds. It's also fire-resistant.

Unfortunately, slate only works for steep roofs, and it is very expensive. There's an artificial slate available, which is composed of clay, rubber, asphalt, and plastic. It is less expensive but more likely to crack.

Other Roofing Materials

Other less common roofing materials include plastic polymer, clay, and concrete.

Plastic polymer shingles look like wood or slate. Plastic polymer stands up well in harsh weather. Compared with other roofing materials, it has an average cost and an average longevity.

Like plastic polymer, clay tile can resemble wood or slate. It has a unique appearance that reminds homeowners of Spain or Italy. Clay tiles are very heavy; roofers must support it with framing. It's also expensive, at $800 to $1000 per square.

A final option is concrete, which can look like slate, wood, or clay. Like clay, concrete is very heavy and requires framing support. It stands up well to weather and can last more than 50 years. It costs more than asphalt but less than slate.

Flat Roofing Materials

Flat roofs require special kinds of materials that don't work for other roofs.

The most popular material for flat roofs is PVC single-ply membrane . This thermoplastic material is strong, with watertight seams. It's also energy efficient, reflecting the sun.

Another common flat roof material is EPDM, a type of rubber. It's less expensive than PVC but isn't as strong and doesn't absorb heat as well.

Other options include TPO and modified bitumen , which are both difficult to install. TPO is very energy efficient, and modified bitumen is protected by multiple layers. Silicon spray is easier to install, but is expensive. BUR is a durable option, but its heavy weight requires reinforcement.

Which Roofing Material Should I Choose?

After exploring all these roofing material options, you might still be unsure which is best for you.

If price is your biggest consideration, asphalt is the best choice. There are two kinds of asphalt—three-tab asphalt is less expensive than laminated asphalt. Metal and wood are also reasonably affordable.

If strength is your biggest consideration, choose metal, slate, plastic polymer, or concrete. These materials are unlikely to break in harsh weather conditions.

Don't take for granted the importance of your roof's appearance. Some people prefer the natural look of wood or tile and shun more modern-looking roofs. Other people love the unique look of clay or asphalt.

Use these guidelines to choose the right roofing material for your home. If you live near Blaine, MN, call Select Exteriors for experienced roofing service.