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Different Types of Roofing Materials for Your Budget

Whether you’re building a new home or need to replace your roof, your choice of roofing materials can contribute to your roof’s durability and in turn, its longevity. Since you want a roof that lasts and fits your budget, consider your options when it comes time to plan your roof construction. Here are how the most common roofing materials compare.

7 Common Types of Roofing Materials


Roofing materials have come a long way in durability and styles. Here are seven of the most common types of roofing materials.

    1. Asphalt Shingles: Asphalt shingles come in two main types: three-tab or architectural. Three-tab asphalt shingles have a flexible base with a mineral coating that helps repel water and prevent damage from weather or debris. They have cutouts to make a single sheet look like three shingles, making them faster to install without sacrificing style. They’re great at flexing against wind and severe weather, including freezing and thawing. Architectural asphalt shingles don’t have notches and contain extra asphalt, making them heavier.
      • Different types of shingles come in a range of colors to match your home’s design. Check out the McCoy’s Shingle Explorer for even more information on shingle lines we carry.
      • Lifespan: Commonly last 12-30 years (depending on quality), and also typically come with 20- to 30-year warranties.
      • Cost: Varies widely because of an abundance of quality and manufacturing styles, but asphalt shingles are the most common roofing materials used in the U.S. because so many options are available.
      • Ease of installation: Easy! Almost every roofing company will be extremely familiar with asphalt shingles.
      • Maintenance: Easy to repair or replace. They will need to be replaced once the asphalt has worn away or when damaged.
    2. Metal panels: Metal roofs are common on outbuildings like sheds, but they’re also used for home roofs – like standing seam metal roofs on modern farmhouse-style homes. You can find metal roofs as metal shingles/shakes, standing seam, or corrugated styles. They are even customizable down to the color. Metal roof materials include fiberglass bases, or partial steel, aluminum, copper, or zinc. Metal roofs can handle most anything from ice to fire, but they are a bit noisy in hailstorms.
      • Lifespan: Super long-lasting, metal roofs can last up to 80 years! Even on the short end of their lifespan, metal shingles on average last 30-50 years.
      • Cost: Inexpensive since materials are frequently from recycled metals and manufacturing is relatively easy.
      • Ease of installation: Complex. Have them installed by a skilled metal roof expert.
      • Maintenance: Low. They hold up extremely well to severe weather and are even UV resistant. Learn more about corrugated metal roofs. Regular maintenance extends lifespan.
Clay RoofingClay Roofing
  1. Tile/Clay: Clay or tile are great for hot climates and wildfire-prone areas, too, since they resist damage from fire. They also stand up to salt air, which makes them a good pick for coastal communities. Concrete tiles have the bonus of being highly energy efficient but come with similar material and installation costs. Don’t use them on severely sloped rooflines.
    • Lifespan: Super durable, they can last 50-100 years! 
    • Cost: Expensive because of the cost of manufacturing and transporting heavy tiles. They cost on average three times what asphalt shingles will run.
    • Ease of installation: Expensive, since you should have a trained ceramic tile installer to ensure the project is done right. They will add a significant additional weight to your home, so a professional needs to make sure your structure can support them. 
    • Maintenance: Concrete tiles can mean more maintenance to treat or prevent water absorption. 
  2. Slate: Slate is a durable roofing material that comes in both hard and soft varieties. Hard slate tends to be more durable, but also heavier. Soft slate costs a little less than hard slate to install but still comes with great water and fire resistance. Slate roofs can stand up to wildfire, rain, snow, and even high winds. Slate is heavy and will require a strong and sturdy structure underneath to support the roof’s weight.
    • Lifespan: Slate roofs can last up to 100 years (some experts even say up to 200 years).
    • Cost: Inexpensive to moderate costs for materials. 
    • Ease of installation: Expensive, since you need a slate roof specialist to install and maintain them.
    • Maintenance: Can be problematic in severe weather, as they crack if hit hard.
  3. Wood Shingle/Shakes: Wood shingles provide a classic natural look for your roof. You can customize the look with a choice of woodgrains, colors, textures, and shapes with woods like redwood, southern pine, and cedar.
    • Lifespan: Both wind and impact-resistant, wood shingles work great in dry and hot climates, where they can last up to 50 years, compared to wet climates where they will last only 20.
    • Cost: Relatively inexpensive material costs, but prices vary depending on materials sourcing and transportation. The thinner wood shingles cost less than thicker wood shakes.
    • Ease of installation: Expensive because of expertise needed.
    • Maintenance: As with many roofs, regular maintenance is key to avoid costly repairs or interior home damage.
  4. Rolled and Membrane: Rolled and membrane roofing is great for structures with low pitches, including flat roofs. Commonly made of PVC or EPDM (a synthetic rubber sheet material).
    • Lifespan: PVC is very long-lived, up to 30 years with proper maintenance.
    • Cost: One of the most inexpensive options.
    • Ease of installation: Generally straightforward, as it comes in one large sheet, except for structures with rooftop HVAC systems or chimneys, which could lead to membrane damage.
    • Maintenance: Inspect for damage regularly. The material does not expand and contract with high and low-temperature swings, and therefore can become cracked and leak.
  5. Build-Up Roofing (BUR): Built-Up Roofing involves installing multiple layers of fiberglass and tar to the top of a structure. These are common on flat roofs and are very fire-resistant and water-resistant. This type is often seen on the tops of public buildings like schools and hospitals.
    • Lifespan: Short, compared to other materials, with an average of 15-30 years lifespan.
    • Cost: Inexpensive, compared to other options, similar to rolled or membrane roof costs.
    • Ease of installation: Complex as the materials used can emit hazardous fumes, so care should be taken during installation.
    • Maintenance: Finding leaks can be difficult because of the layered nature of the roofing installation, but regular maintenance can help.

Roofing Material Details to Keep in Mind


  • Your roof structure could determine what type of roofing is needed. Consideration should be taken if your roof is extremely steep or extremely flat, as many categories of roofing materials will automatically be off-limits in those cases. 
  • Your HOA or municipality could have roofing regulations. In fire-prone areas, materials that are fire-resistant could be encouraged, such as metal or clay and slate tiles. A HOA could limit choices of roof materials or colors.
  • Know how to measure! A roofing square is a way to measure the area that will need to be replaced on your roof. It’s a 10-foot by 10-foot area that’s equal to 100 square feet of roof surface. What is within that square is more than just the shingles or other roofing materials on top, but every component, from underlayment and more. Each “plane” of your roof will require a computation of the number of squares, leading to the roof replacement complexity.

Before You Get Up on Your Roof, Start at McCoy's


A new roof is expensive, so start by knowing what materials are best for your home. Come into your nearby McCoy’s and our building materials experts can help you make practical decisions based on your local weather, climate, and your budget.