How to Select Roof Materials for Your Home

Mar 10, 2023


Viking Contractors




March 10, 2023


May 10, 2024

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Are you building a new home or replacing an old or damaged roof? Don’t rush to select your roof materials! Explore your options and understand the factors you should consider to select the best roofing materials for your home.

The materials you choose will affect the overall look of your house and the roof’s durability, installation costs, and maintenance level. Let’s look at popular roofing materials and their features to help you make the best choice for your home.

Types of Roof Materials

Roofing materials aren’t created equal. Each type has unique pros and cons, making it best suited for specific homes and environments.

Here are the most common roofing materials to consider.

Asphalt Shingles

About 80% of sloped residential roofs in North America use Asphalt shingles because they are readily available, easy to install or replace, and suitable for different weather conditions.

Asphalt shingles can give your home a beautifully layered look. They come in several colors, textures, and styles, so you can choose an option that suits your home’s aesthetic.

Asphalt shingles have a fiberglass or organic base topped with asphalt and mineral granules or cellulose. Fiberglass asphalt shingles have superior corrosion resistance compared to organic shingles, making them ideal for homes near water bodies.

If you’re on a budget, asphalt shingles are a great option, costing an average of $3.50–$5.50 per square foot. However, they have a shorter lifespan than most roofing materials, lasting about 30 years. Some manufacturers say they could last up to 50 years with the right maintenance.

Metal Roofing

Try metal roofing for a durable, lightweight, colorful, and fireproof option. Metal roofs can last up to 80 years.

Aluminum and zinc are the most common materials for metal roofs due to their cost-effectiveness, ease of transport, and low maintenance.

Besides the wide choice of materials, you also can select different designs, for instance, sheets and shingles, standing seam metal roofing, and stone-coated steel. Standing seam roofs are the most common type of metal roof.

The material and style of a metal roof determine the cost but, on average, ranges from $6 to $14 per square foot. However, metal roof installation and repair require specialized labor, raising costs quickly.

Metal roofing is also an excellent option for areas with heavy snowfall. Some materials may require soundproofing to minimize noise.

Clay Roofing

roof materials - clay roofing

Clay tiles are a popular roofing material for hot climates, high-wind regions, and areas with salt air.

They might be expensive to install and repair but have a longer lifespan than most roofing options. On average, clay tiles cost $10–$18 per square foot and can last over a century. 

Clay tiles are fragile as they are made from earthen clay but require less maintenance once installed. They come in different styles, like Scania, Spanish, and French.

They are also highly fire-resistant.

Concrete Tile 

Concrete tile is a heavier and cheaper alternative to clay tile, costing about $10 to $15 per square foot.

It’s a good option for high-wind areas and can be designed to mimic different roofings like clay tiles or wood shakes. 

Due to its heavy nature, concrete roofing requires extra support to avoid putting stress on the home structure. This may result in higher installation costs.

The lifespan of concrete tiles is 50+ years with regular maintenance.

Slate Roofing 

Slate is a weather-resistant, beautiful, and long-lasting roofing material. It has a 50–200-year lifespan, is fireproof, and can withstand extreme temperatures, hail, high winds, and small branches.

Slate tiles and shingles roofing costs about $9–$20 per square foot.

Slate roofs are made of natural or synthetic materials. Synthetic slate is often more affordable than natural slate. However, natural slate is heavy, so not ideal for some homes.

Synthetic slate shingles are lightweight and made from polymers, recycled plastic, and rubber. They are difficult to distinguish from natural slate and are an excellent choice for homes that cannot support the heavy weight of natural slate.

Slate roofs are generally expensive to install and repair, often requiring specialized labor that can be hard to find.

Wood Roofing

Wood roofing is a classic, attractive, energy-efficient option that pairs well with luxurious homes in dry climates. With proper maintenance and fire treatment in fire-prone areas, they can last up to 50 years.

Skip wood roofs if you live in a wet climate or an area with wildfire danger. Most wood roofings are made of Eastern white cedar, red cedar, or Alaskan yellow cedar and come in two types: wood shingles and shake roofs.

Shakes have a thick and rough texture, while shingles have a smoother surface. The average cost is $4.50–$14 per square foot.

Wood roofs can be expensive, require high maintenance, and demand extra skill to install and repair.

Green Roofing/ Living Roof

Green roofs are an eco-friendly roofing system that covers the roof surface with vegetation, creating a living, breathing layer atop the building. The most common vegetation for green roofs includes moss, grass, or wildflowers.

Living roofs have several benefits, like removing pollutants, combating heat, improving air quality, absorbing rainwater, and allowing plant growth.

Building and maintaining a green roof can be expensive, costing an average of $10–$25 per square foot to install. They require a waterproof membrane and adequate drainage.

Well-maintained green roofs have a good lifespan of 30–50 years. However, not every area allows green roofs. If you’re interested in this roofing system, confirm whether it’s legal in your area. 

Rolled Roofing

If you’re repairing a roof or building a home on a tight budget and limited timeline, rolled roofing is a good option for you.

It’s cheap and quick to install but may not suit your aesthetic preferences. As expected, the cheap rates have more apparent shortcomings. The roofs may require replacement in 10 years, have limited color options, and are unsuitable for flat roofs.

Rolled roofing works well for low-slope residential roofs, is easy to install, and labor is also quite affordable.

Solar Shingles

Close-up rail-less racking solar panel system on asphalt shingles rooftop commercial building.

Want a modern roofing material that can potentially increase your home value? Check solar shingles.

A newer roofing system can save you money on electricity bills.

However, solar roofing is fragile, expensive, and time-consuming to install. It’s also a poor choice for homes in shaded areas.

The roofing costs about $21–$25 per square foot and can last for 20–30 years. Installation and repair costs can add up quickly as it requires a specialized roofer.

Built-up Roofing (BUR)

Built-up roofing is a low-maintenance, inexpensive, and easy-to-remove option for flat or low-pitched roofs.

BUR systems are popular for their heavy-duty protection against water, UV rays, and other weather elements.

They are made of multiple layers of ply sheets and asphalt, which gives the redundancy necessary for extra protection. If one layer is damaged, the extra layers below it continue to offer protection.

BUR systems can last up to 30 years. While the installation process is labor-intensive, BUR is one of the cheapest options costing $2.50 to $5 per square foot.

One of the downsides of the BUR system is that finding leaks can be challenging due to the multiple layers feature.

Membrane Roofing

Another roofing material for flat or low-pitched roofs is membrane roofing. It’s relatively affordable, lightweight, and easy to install and repair.

Membrane roofing creates a watertight covering to protect the inside of a building with a low-slope roof. Waterproofing is essential in such buildings because water doesn’t run off as fast.

They are made of synthetic rubber, PVC, or similar materials. You can expect to pay between $14.00-$17.00 per square foot for this roofing system.

Traditionally these roof materials were common in commercial buildings but are becoming common in residential applications.

On the downside, membrane roofing is prone to punctures and leaks.

Choosing the Best Roofing Material for Your Home

A collage of many pictures with fragments of various types of roofing close up. A set of images with roof coating textures

Here are factors to consider when selecting the most suitable roofing material for your home:


How much can you afford to spend comfortably on roofing costs? Remember to include roofing material, installation labor, and other expenses. Don’t compromise on quality to save money in the short term. It could cost you more in the long run.


Choosing the right roofing materials for your local climate can extend the lifespan of your roof. 

Is your area prone to high wind or hail? Go for impact-resistant materials like metal, clay, or concrete tiles.

If you’re unsure if the roof materials of your choice are ideal for your area’s climate, consult with a local roofing professional. 

Curb Appeal

You probably have aesthetic preferences for your home, and your choice of roofing material impacts the overall appearance.

Consider the architectural style of your home when choosing roofing materials. You should also ensure the color and style of the roofing material complement the rest of your home’s exterior.

Roof materials like slate, clay, concrete, wood shakes, or metal can add visual interest and increase your home’s value.

Resale Value

Selecting the right roofing material can increase your home’s resale value.

Choose materials that are popular and in demand in your area. You should also ensure the roofing material is installed correctly to prevent potential damage that could lower the home’s value.


How much roof maintenance are you willing to do? The roofing material you opt for determines the level of maintenance needed.

You probably don’t want expensive options that require high maintenance and repairs.

Low-maintenance materials like metal roofing or composite shingles can reduce the need for frequent maintenance.

A regular roof inspection can catch any issues early on and prevent costly repairs down the line.

What Materials Do You Need to Fix a Roof?

The materials needed to fix a roof are:

  • Roofing material: Depending on the type of roof, you may need shingles, tiles, or metal panels to replace damaged or missing sections.
  • Roofing cement: Used to seal cracks and gaps in the roofing material.
  • Flashing: Metal strips that reinforce and waterproof the areas around chimneys and vents.
  • Roofing nails or screws: Used to secure the roofing material to the roof deck.
  • Underlayment: A water-resistant layer installed under the roofing material provides an extra layer of protection against leaks.
  • Roofing tar: Used to patch holes and cracks in flat roofs.
  • Roofing tape: Used to seal and reinforce joints and seams in the roofing material.
  • Safety equipment: Safety harnesses, gloves, and non-slip shoes to protect against falls and other accidents.
  • Tools: Hammer, screwdriver, pry bar, utility knife, and other basic tools for removing and installing roofing materials.
  • Ladder: A sturdy, reliable ladder that can safely reach the roof.

Need Help Fixing a Roof? Choose the Right Roofer!

While you can fix minor roofing issues like leaks, you might require professional roofers for complex repairs. Or when you need to know the state of your roofing system after a hail or storm.

The last thing you want is an expensive roof replacement or repair that could have been fixed before it worsened. 

But don’t just select any roofer. Choose one who specializes in your type of roof materials and has the necessary experience.

Looking for top-notch roofing services in Minnesota? You’re in the right place! At Viking Contractors LLC, we’re your one-stop shop for all roofing needs. Whether you need hail damage repairs, inspection, or replacement, we’ve got you covered.

Our expert roofers specialize in asphalt shingle, metal, cedar shake, and flat roofing, ensuring we can handle any roofing project you may have.

Don’t let a damaged or old roof put your home at risk. Schedule your FREE home inspection with us now!

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