Types of Roofing Materials for Your House

Roofing your house rarely rates high on the list of fun and exciting home remodeling projects. But when your home develops a leak, your attitude might take a sharp turn. Suddenly, the prospect of a dry, tightly-sealed house begins to look very attractive. Since not all roofing materials are the same, carefully considering the type of roofing materials will make a significant difference in terms of longevity, appearance, and cost.

Roofing material prices range from very cheap (in the case of rolled asphalt roofing) to very high (slate, copper, green roofing, etc.). If you separate the price of roofing materials from related expenditures, such as labor, market conditions, and seasons, you see how raw materials drive the price of the entire project up or down. For one example, composite shingles are derived from petroleum, and petroleum prices fluctuate wildly. As a result, composite shingles' prices can change. Yet softening composite shingles' cost fluctuations is their wide availability and popularity.

Low-Cost Roofing Materials

Medium-Cost Roofing Materials

High-Cost Roofing Materials

  • Natural slate
  • Eco-friendly green roofing
  • 01 of 06

    Rolled Roofing

    Torch Down Flat Asphalt Rolled Roofing
    Asphalt rolled roofing is one of the least expensive ways to install a flat roof. Wald1siedel/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0

    Rolled roofing material is the mainstay of low-slope residential roofs, plus out-buildings like shops and sheds and other utilitarian structures. This type of roofing comes in rolls of 100 square feet, each about 3 feet wide. These large format strips of thin roofing material are a fast, convenient, and inexpensive way to cover a sloped-roof building like a workshop, where beauty isn't the most important thing. It is also a necessary material when covering a roof with zero or low slope, as it is good at holding back moisture. Rolled roofing can be applied either with the torch-down method or with roofing nails.

  • 02 of 06

    Composite or Asphalt Shingles

    Composite Roofing Shingles with Metal Flashing
    Composite roofing shingles with metal flashing. Douglas Sacha/Getty Images

    Composite shingles, often called asphalt shingles, are the most popular type of roofing material around. These three-tab shingles are made of fiberglass mat topped with asphalt and mineral granules. An all-around good choice for most home roofing needs, composite shingles typically come with 20- to 30-year warranties. Nearly every roofing company knows how to install composite shingles. Should you lose a shingle later on, they are easy to repair and replace on a one-for-one basis. Composite shingles excel at flexing and adapting to a roof's movements due to expansion and contraction.

  • 03 of 06

    Standing Seam Metal Roofing

    Standing Seam Metal Roof
    Standing seam metal roofs are popular in part because they are fire-proof. David Trowbridge/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Metal roofing isn't just for warehouses anymore. Metal roofs have come of age, and now they look cool, urban, and industrial, even on high-end mansions. One of the best features of metal roofing is that it is fire-resistant and insect-proof, as it provides no food for wood-boring insects such as termites or carpenter ants. In the right area, a standing seam metal roof can return excellent resale value. On the downside, metal roofs are more expensive than composite shingles and do require installation by highly experienced installers. If eco-friendly is important to you, metal roofing is considered a sustainable building material as it contains no petroleum products.

  • 04 of 06

    Slate Shingles

    Slate Roof Being Installed
    Slate roofs are expensive to install but last for an extremely long time. Bryn Pinzgauer/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    A slate roof is for the dedicated home remodeler who will accept nothing less, not even rubber "slate" that looks amazingly like real slate. True slate roofing is just as it sounds: authentic, thin sheets of real stone. Because slate has a tendency to cleave off in thin sheets, it is easy to quarry, making it ideal for roofing. Hardly a do-it-yourself job, slate is best installed only by highly qualified companies. Even then, qualified slate roof installers tend to be in short numbers, especially in areas that have a newer housing stock.

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06

    Ecofriendly Green Roof

    House With Grass Covered Roof
    Grass-covered roofs, while trendy, have been used for centuries as eco-friendly roofs. Cellai Stefano/EyeEm/Getty Images

    Moss on the roof, when it is unintended, can be a bad thing. But when properly planned for, moss and other organic materials provide an effective roofing material that gives back to the earth.

    A truly unorthodox type of roof, the green or living roof nevertheless holds much promise. It can put oxygen back in the air, provide thermal insulation to your house, absorb rainwater, and even allow you to grow plants. To create a green roof, you first install a layer of waterproof membrane and provide adequate drainage. A green roof can be "intensive," meaning capable of supporting large plants and people, or "extensive," which means that it is thin and intended only for light-weight growth such as moss.

  • 06 of 06

    EPDM (Rubber)

    EPDM Rubber Material
    EPDM is a rubber-like roofing material often used to line artificial ponds. Lee Wallender

    EPDM is a synthetic roofing material often referred to as "rubber roofing." EPDM is similar to rolled asphalt roofing in that is lays down in large sheets. This is beneficial because seams are typically one way that water can infiltrate into your home. EPDM, used only for flat roofing projects, is still not commonly installed due to its high cost. Also, be careful when installing EPDM near asphalt-based roofing, as the asphalt roofing may degrade the EPDM.