Get the low-down on what goes on your roof
The right roofing shingles for your home will depend on your budget and local climate. Durability and longevity are other significant factors to consider when choosing a roofing shingle type. Learn about the most popular types of shingles so you can put the best roof possible over your head.
Types of Roof Shingles
Climate and budget are two of the most important things you should consider when looking for the best roof shingle options. Some materials, like metal, do well in extreme climates, while others (wood, for example) do best in mild temperatures because harsh weather can damage them more easily.
Roofers generally price shingles per square, a roofing measurement that equals 100 square feet of material. Common types of roofing shingles include asphalt, metal, clay tile, wood, and solar. Each material comes with its own set of pros and cons. Let’s take a closer look.
Asphalt shingles are made of fiberglass-reinforced asphalt. A widely popular choice, they come in a thicker, multi-layered variety and a flatter three-tab variety.
“When it comes to ROI, asphalt shingles are the way to go,” says Michael DiMartino, senior vice president of installations at Power Home Remodeling. “They complement any home architectural style, are the most versatile, and with modern advancements, they can last just as long.”
Wide range of sizes and colors
Can only be used on pitched roofs
More susceptible to damage
Made from aluminum, steel, copper, or an alloy, metal shingles are best for homes with steep or flat rooflines. Metal roofs cost about $700 to $1,400 per square.
Can last up to 50 years
Resistant to rain, rot, wind, and fire
Hail can cause dents
Noisy in harsh weather
Clay tile is a stylish roofing material that can be molded into different shapes, but scalloped or barrel-shaped patterns are the most common. This roof shingle material is often made in lighter colors and is popular in Spanish-style homes in warmer climates. Tile roofs cost between $800 and $2,500 per square.
Keeps home cool
Expensive to install
Classic and timeless, wood is a popular material for roof shingles. You may also see wood roofing shingles in the form of cedar shakes, one of the original roofing materials. While they look nice and are made from natural material, wood shingles can be fire hazards. Wood shingles are cut from cedar, spruce, or pine and typically cost $400 to $700 per square.
Require regular inspection, cleaning, and repairs
Susceptible to pests
Solar panels are more expensive than most other roof shingle types, but they are environmentally and economically sustainable because they harness renewable energy. Having solar panels on your house can significantly lower your electricity costs long term. Think of them as an investment in the name of Planet Earth. Solar shingles cost $2,100 to $2,500 per square.
In most cases, homeowners install solar panels over the top of a full set of shingles for a double layer of protection against the elements.
“Solar is coming along. As time goes by the technology is getting better and the cost is becoming more reasonable,” says Ami Feller, Expert Review Board member and owner of Roofer Chicks in New Braunfels, TX. “I predict that in about 20 years, solar will be a very viable option and more cost-effective.”
The most eco-friendly roof shingle option
Reduces energy bill
Requires professional installation
Roof Shingle Comparison
Each roof shingle material type has advantages and disadvantages. Decide what’s best for you by comparing each material with home shape and local climate in mind.
Metal is one of the most durable types of roofing—metal is resistant to impact and can stand up to harsh weather. Metal can stand up to high winds and other severe conditions (though it can dent from heavy hail or fallen branches). Wood and asphalt are close seconds in this category, while clay and solar roof shingles are the most susceptible to damage. Pro tip: If you’re interested in tile options, concrete tiles look like clay, but are not as fragile.
Solar shingles harness the power of the sun and transform it into energy for your home. For that reason, solar roofing shingles are the most sustainable option on the market.
Wood is another eco-friendly option, though, as it’s derived from natural sources and is generally recyclable. Clay tile shingles are also made from natural materials, making them an eco-friendly option as well.
Metal and clay tile roofing can last over a century if properly maintained, making them the longest lasting roofing types. However, these shingle materials can be susceptible to damage from harsh weather, so they may not last as long if you live in an area that experiences frequent storms and heavy precipitation.
Wood shingles last about 50 years with proper maintenance, while lower-rated asphalt shingles have an average lifespan of 20 years.
Best Roofing Shingles for Extreme Climates
Metal roofing shingles are the best choice for homes in areas with heavy snowfall and extremely low temperatures. Asphalt shingles are also a great option for a range of climates.
Wood, clay tile, and solar shingles don’t fare well with temperature fluctuations.