The biggest factor for homeowners choosing a roofing material is price. There are several materials available, in a range of styles and colors. Research your choices so you can make the most of your home maintenance dollars.

Asphalt, most popular for decades

Asphalt shingles have been the most popular choice for decades, covering over 75% of American homes. They are made in a wide range of colors, not just the dull brown and grey most often seen on older homes. You can buy them in shades of blue, purple, green, red and yellow. That’s enough choice to go with most any home’s exterior decor.

It is a durable material and easy to maintain. Individual shingles can be replaced if they blow off in a windstorm or develop cracks. The cost varies from $50 to $150 a square yard. The roof will last from 15 to 30 years.

On the downside, it is a poor insulator and it has a much lower lifespan than more expensive materials.

Shakes and wood shingles, for a rustic look

Shakes automatically give a home a warm, rustic yet elegant look. Many cottages and summer homes use them. The most popular types of wood are redwood, cedar and Southern pine, though other trees are also used.

Most people assume shakes and wood shingles are the same thing, but there is a difference. Shakes are made by hand, while wood shingles are produced by machine.

The price is mid-range as a roofing material, running from $100 to $175 a square. One thing homeowners need to be aware of is the low fire rating assigned to wood shingle and shake roofs. This can potentially make a difference in your homeowner’s insurance rates.

A newer material with the look of wood is called recycled synthetic shingles. It uses recycled wood mixed with a variety of materials like rubber and plastic. This means it resists fire and the damaging effects of the sun’s UV rays. It weighs less than wood, which makes it easier to transport and install.

Tiles, for a Mediterranean feel

Clay and concrete tiles add distinction to a home with a Southwest or Mediterranean look. They can dress up a modern home and add charm to an older one.

The biggest advantage to tile is that it lasts over 50 years. It is heavy, which means some homes need to be reinforced before tile can be installed. Clay tiles are very good at reflecting the heat of the sun, keeping your home cooler and lowering your air conditioning costs. Both concrete and clay provide excellent protection against the elements.

Costs run from $300 to $650 a square. Installation is also more expensive than asphalt or wood.

Slate, lasting a century

Slate is durable and distinctive. Beside the upscale look, homeowners love the fact that it lasts 50 to 100 years. Some slate roofs are still in use even after the century mark. 

It is an easy material to maintain. It is best used on homes in moderate or cold climates because it comes in dark colors. This causes it to absorb the heat of the sun and raise the temperature in the home.

Slate runs from $500 to $1000 a square. Installation needs to be done by experienced roofers who understand how to work with this material.

Metal, the new popular choice

Metal also lasts for many years. Though guaranteed for 50 years, most last much longer. Metal roofs are strong and durable, resisting rain, sleet, hail, wind and other weather extremes.

They come in a range of choices, including steel, copper and aluminum. They are made in a choice of styles that mimic the look of asphalt shingles, wood shakes, tile and slate.

The costs vary, according to which metal is used. Prices start at $100 a square. It is excellent at reflecting solar rays, which reduces energy costs.

Fiber cement, durable and fireproof

Fiber cement is one of the newest roofing materials. It is a composite of concrete, wood fiber and clay. Together, these three substances produce a roof that is fireproof and durable, lasting 20 to 30 years. The cost is about $500 a square.

It is lighter than concrete tiles and is made to look like shakes. It comes in a variety of shadings and textures so it goes with a wide range of home exteriors. Since it can crack, it is not recommended for homes in areas with extremely cold winters.

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