Best Shed Roofing Materials

Work Shed with Rolled Roofing

Westend61/Getty Images

Homeowners who would never consider roofing their homes often entertain the idea of roofing their backyard shed or workshop. Shed roofs are far smaller and more manageable, and they tend to be much closer to the ground than house roofs. The same roofing materials used on homes, such as composite shingles, often make perfectly suitable shed roofs. Besides composite shingles, there are also some lower-cost roofing options that you might not choose for your house but are just fine for most sheds.

  Roll Roofing Corrugated Sheets Composite Shingles
Basics Asphalt-type roll paper Large metal or plastic sheets Individual shingles
Pros Fast installation Easy to install Best look versus other options
Cons Difficult to waterproof May come off in winds Slower to install
Installation Roofing is rolled out and nailed down in overlapping fashion Sheets are nailed down lengthwise (facing down) and overlapping Each shingle nailed individually and overlapped by shingle in upper row

Roll Roofing

Roll roofing, also called mineral-surfaced roll or MSR, has a similar makeup to conventional asphalt shingles but it comes in wide rolls. It is also thinner, less expensive, and easier to install than shingles. Roll roofing can be installed with nails, as long as the roof has some pitch (slope) to it. For flat roofs, it is usually installed using a torch-down method.

A standard roll of roll roofing is 36 inches wide and covers 100 square feet, an area that roofers refer to as a square. In most cases, one or two rolls should be sufficient to cover the average shed or workshop.

Pros and Cons

In most cases, MSR roll roofing is the cheapest shed roof material you can buy. Roll roofing is also the easiest shed roof to install because you can cover large areas quickly by simply rolling it out and nailing it down.

Rolled roofing is not considered to be very attractive and will do nothing to raise your property's resale value. Roll roofing is thin, so 5 years is a comfortable life expectancy of roll roofing before it needs to be replaced.

Roll Roofing Cost

The roofing material itself costs about $0.50 to $1 per square foot, making it economical to install. The cost of the fasteners for roll roofing is about $6 per 400-count of large-head, corrosion-resistant roofing nails,11-gauge.

Corrugated Roofing

Corrugated roofing panels come in three common materials: metal (galvanized steel or aluminum), fiberglass, or polycarbonate plastic. The metal version is the classic roofing often referred to as a tin roof.

Corrugated roofing panels are 8 feet long and about 2 feet wide and install very quickly. Their edges overlap at the seams to keep out water, and the panels are installed with special nails or screws that have neoprene gaskets or washers to create a watertight seal.

Corrugated steel panels are not the same as standing seam metal roofing. Standing seam is more expensive roofing with sealed edges that are only installed by qualified roofers, not by homeowners.

Pros and Cons

With some corrugated steel products, entire roofing systems are available that include closure caps, valleys, ridge caps, hip caps, and other accessories used in roofing a home.

Corrugated roofing can rip off in high winds. Rusted metal corrugated roofing can be an eyesore. Homeowner's associations may prohibit the use of corrugated metal roofing.

Corrugated Roofing Cost

Corrugated roofing costs about $1 per square foot, based on galvanized steel 8-foot panels that 25-3/4-inch wide. The cost of the fasteners is about $15 per 250-count for #9 Galvalume wood fasteners with built-in washers.

Composite (Asphalt) Shingles

Standard asphalt three-tab shingles represent a compromise between the utilitarian (galvanized steel or rolled asphalt) and the gorgeous (cedar shake shingle). You can buy asphalt shingles at your local home center in a limited range of colors. For a shed, a standard-grade shingle is sufficient, unless you want the look of a thicker, premium-grade material.

Pros and Cons

Composite shingles mean that you can install a shed roof that matches, or comes reasonably close to, the color and look of your home's roof. Shingles tend to give your shed a better look since they look less shed-like and more like a house.

Installing three-tab shingles is a bit more involved than corrugated and roll roofing. Each shingle must be installed individually and in the correct order.

Composite Shingles Cost

Composite shingles cost about $1 per square foot for standard-grade 3-tab shingles. The fasteners cost about $25 per 1,000-count of roofing nails.