7 Best Roofing Materials for Durability & Longevity [2022 Review]

In this EcoWatch guide on best roofing material, you’l learn:

  • What the best roofing materials are
  • How each roofing material compares to one another
  • The sustainability, longevity and cost of the materials
  • How to choose the best roofing material for your home

This guide has helped many homeowners learn about different roofing materials and figure out which option is the best for their home. Fill out your zip code below to get a personalized quote on roofing options near you.

Ecowatch Author EcoWatch Reviews

By EcoWatch Reviews

Updated 9/18/2022

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Choosing The Best Roofing Material

Maintaining and remodeling a home can be a long and tedious process. Trying to improve your home sustainably can complicate the process even more. That’s why EcoWatch strives to find home improvement solutions for the eco-conscious homeowner. 

If you’re wondering what the best roofing material is for a new roof, roof repair or any other roofing services, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll discuss roofing materials in depth, comparing their environmental impacts, costs, longevity and more.

Jump To:

  1. What Are the Best Roofing Materials?
  2. Asphalt Singles
  3. Wood Shingles
  4. Wood Shake
  5. Metal Roofing
  6. Concrete or Clay Tiles
  7. Slate Roofing
  8. Solar Shingles and Solar Glass
  9. Choosing a Roofing Material
  10. FAQs: Best Roofing Material
Best for New Roofs
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Ecowatch rating

Average cost

$$$$$

Erie Metal Roofs

  • Pros icon Lifetime or lengthy warranty
  • Pros icon Widespread availability
  • Pros icon 10+ years of experience
  • Pros icon Positive customer reviews
  • Pros icon Uses eco-friendly materials
  • Pros icon Financing options available
  • Pros icon Well-trained, certified installers
  • Pros icon Uses durable materials meant to last
  • Pros icon Variety of roofing styles available
  • Con icon Limited variety of roofing materials
  • Con icon Expensive
Most Eco-Friendly
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Average cost

$$$$$

Aspen Contracting

  • Pros icon Positive industry reputation
  • Pros icon Lifetime or lengthy warranty
  • Pros icon Widespread availability
  • Pros icon 10+ years of experience
  • Pros icon Positive customer reviews
  • Pros icon Financing options available
  • Con icon Little information available on company website
Best Overall
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Average cost

$$$$$

Power Home

  • Pros icon Positive industry reputation
  • Pros icon Lifetime or lengthy warranty
  • Pros icon 10+ years of experience
  • Pros icon Positive customer reviews
  • Pros icon Uses eco-friendly materials
  • Pros icon Well-trained, certified installers
  • Pros icon Variety of roofing styles available
  • Con icon Limited variety of roofing materials
  • Con icon Short or nonexistent warranty
  • Con icon No financing information available
  • Con icon Expensive
  • Con icon Little information available on company website

What Are the Best Roofing Materials?

From asphalt to wood shake, metal to solar tiles, there are so many different roofing materials to choose from — and it’s an important choice.

There are many considerations when it comes to choosing the best roofing material, and what’s best for your home may not be what’s best for your neighbors. 

Aesthetics aside, you’ll want to consider factors like material weight, durability, longevity, cost, warranty and sustainability.

We’ll discuss each roofing material in more depth in this article, but the table below will give you a general idea of how each material compares when it comes to longevity and cost.

Roof Material Estimated Lifespan Cost
Asphalt Shingle 10 to 35 years $
Wood Shingles 25 to 30 years $$
Wood Shake 35 to 40 years $$
Metal Roofing 40 to 75 years $$
Clay / Concrete Tiles 50 to 100 years $$$
Slate Roofing 100+ years $$$$
Solar Shingles / Solar Glass 25 to 30 years $$$$

Asphalt Shingles

best roofing materials asphalt shingles
Credit: JamesBrey / Getty Images

Asphalt is the most popular roofing material, mostly because of its vast availability and affordability. The majority of asphalt shingle roofs are made up of the following materials:

  • Asphalt (a semi-solid form of petroleum)
  • Fiberglass
  • Stone granules (slate, schist, quartz or ceramic)
  • Sealant
  • Release film

However, not all asphalt roofing options are equal. Some are cheaply made, while others — often called composite shingles — contain more of the stone granules component, making them more durable. 

Always check for the material’s hail rating, which offers a good indication of its durability.

Pros

  • Tons of colors available
  • Least expensive
  • Widely available
  • Recyclable
  • DIY roofing option

Cons

  • Shorter lifespan
  • Quality and durability can vary
  • Least sustainable option
  • Retains heat, decreasing the energy efficiency of your home

House Styles

Asphalt shingles come in many different varieties and colors — including architectural styles that appear patterned, offering some aesthetic variety — so they’re a great option for any style of roof, especially typical suburban homes.

Installation Costs and Average Lifespan

Asphalt shingles typically cost around $5 per square foot to install. Taking the average U.S. roof size of 1,700 square feet, it would cost around $8,500 to professionally install an asphalt shingle roof.

Asphalt shingles have an average lifespan of 10 to 35 years, varying greatly based on manufacturer quality.

We don’t recommend buying the cheapest asphalt shingle option, because more often than not, it will lack quality and durability. If your asphalt architectural shingles need to be replaced in a decade or so, you’ll be spending a lot more on re-roofing costs and generating a lot more waste in the long run.

Environmental Impact of Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are not the most eco-friendly roofing choice, as they’re made from a petroleum-based material. Asphalt also retains heat more than any other roofing material, which can make your home less energy efficient and drive up your electricity costs.

On a positive note, asphalt shingles are recyclable and many of the best roofing companies will recycle old shingles for you.

Wood Shingles

Wood Shingle best roofing materials
Credit: John C Magee / Getty Images

Wood shingles are thin pieces of wood sawn off from logs. They’re 100% natural and typically made of fire-resistant woods, such as cedar, redwood or southern pine.

Pros

  • Offer an attractive, rustic look
  • Renewable, biodegradable and recyclable
  • Manufacturing wood is less carbon-intensive than other roofing materials1
  • Tend to last longer than asphalt shingles, especially in mild climates
  • More energy efficient than other materials

Con

  • While fire-resistant, they can be a hazard and are prohibited in locations prone to wildfires
  • More susceptible to mold, mildew, split or rot and therefore not recommended in wet climates
  • Requires more maintenance than asphalt shingles
  • May attract bugs
  • Requires professional installation

House Styles

Due to its rustic appearance, wood roofing is a great option for beach bungalows, cottages or Tudor-style homes.

Installation Costs and Average Lifespan

Wood shingles are more expensive than asphalt shingles, but still a relatively affordable roofing option. On average, wood shingles cost between $6 and $11 per square foot to install, putting installation estimates between $10,200 to $18,700 for the typical 1,700-square foot roof.

Wood shingles typically last between 25 to 30 years, but in the right climate with proper cleaning and maintenance, they can last upwards of 50 years.

Environmental Impact

Wood is biodegradable, renewable and recyclable, which makes it one of the more sustainable roofing materials. Just make sure you’re buying responsibly sourced wood and not supporting illegal deforestation.

Wood Shakes

tile shingles best roofing materials
Credit: ClassicStock / Contributor / Getty Images

Wood shakes are thicker and more textured than wood shingles, making them a bit more durable and long-lasting. Instead of being sawn off a block of wood, wood shakes are usually split using a blade or mallet.

Pros

  • More durable and sun-resistant than wood shingles
  • Offer an attractive, rustic look
  • Renewable, biodegradable and recyclable
  • Manufacturing wood is less carbon-intensive than other roofing materials2
  • Last longer than asphalt or wood shingles
  • Offer good insulation, improving your home’s energy efficiency

Cons

  • More expensive than wood shingles
  • Requires professional installation, leading to higher costs
  • While fire-resistant, wood shakes can be a fire hazard and are prohibited in locations prone to wildfires
  • More susceptible to mold, mildew, split or rot and therefore not recommended in wet climates
  • Require more maintenance than asphalt shingles
  • May attract bugs

House Styles

Wood shake roofs looks great when they match their surroundings, making them ideal choices for homes in wooded areas, as well as beach bungalows, cottage or Tudor-style homes.

Installation Costs and Average Lifespan

Wood shakes are thicker and more difficult to install compared to wood shingles, so it’s no surprise they’re more expensive, coming in between $9 and $15 per square foot to install. That puts the average 1,700-square-foot roof installation at an estimated cost between $15,000 and $25,500.

On average, wood shake roofs last around 35 to 40 years, but certain types, like cedar shake, can last longer if they’re well-maintained and located in a milder climate.

Environmental Impact

Once again, wood roofing is a great option because it’s biodegradable, renewable and recyclable. It’s a great choice for the eco-conscious homeowner, so long as the wood is responsibly sourced.

Metal Roofing

best materials for roofing metal
Credit: pamspix / Getty Images

Metal has become an increasingly popular roofing material due to its ability to withstand the elements, whether it be high winds, wildfires or hail. Metal roofing materials are typically comprised of steel, aluminum, zinc or copper and come in different styles like standing seam panels, shingles or tile.

Pros

  • Durable in any type of climate
  • Long-lasting
  • High solar reflectance (does not absorb heat like asphalt roofs)
  • Recyclable 
  • Can be conveniently installed over your old roof, eliminating waste and improving insulation

Cons

  • Comparatively expensive
  • Requires professional installation

House Styles

Metal shingles look great on contemporary or industrial-style homes, as well as bungalows, cabins and cottages. Standing seam metal roofs are a great option for homes with flat roofs.

Installation Costs and Average Lifespan

The cost and lifespan for metal roofs vary depending on the material. Steel and aluminum tend to be the cheapest, while copper is much more expensive. The cost range for a 1,700-square-foot metal roof is between $5,000 and $40,000.

Metal roofs are known for longevity, typically lasting between 40 and 75 years depending on the material. Zinc and copper roofs have been known to last 100 or more years.

Check out the table below for a better understanding of how metal roofing materials differ. 

Metal Roofing Material Material Price per Square Foot Estimated Cost for 1,700-Square-Foot Roof Installation Estimated Lifespan
Aluminum shingles $3 to $9 $9,000 to $28,000 35 to 40 years
Steel shingles $6 to $12 $17,000 to $25,000 40 to 50 years
Standing seam metal $8 to $14 $17,000 to $30,000 50 years
Zinc $6 to $11 $15,000 to $50,000 100+ years
Copper $11 to $25 $30,000 to $70,000 100+ years

Environmental Impact

Metal roofs are long-lasting and easily recyclable, making them a great roofing choice for the eco-conscious homeowner. They offer a few other key advantages when it comes to sustainability — they reflect light and insulate well, which can keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. 

Metal roofs are also ideal for those who like to collect runoff rainwater.

Concrete or Clay Tiles

tiles best roofing materials
Credit: R.Tsubin / Getty Images

Concrete and clay tile roofs are, just as you’d expect, made up of concrete or clay. However, while traditional tiles are made from terracotta clay, others can be made from ceramic or fired clay. Both concrete and clay roofs are durable and long-lasting, but they’re also heavier, requiring strong roofing reinforcements.

Pros

  • Durable, able to withstand harsh weather conditions
  • Long lasting
  • Energy-efficient

Cons

  • Very heavy, may require roofing reinforcements
  • Susceptible to cracking if not properly maintained
  • Requires professional installation

House Styles

Clay and concrete tiles look great on Southwestern, Spanish and Mediterranean-style homes, adding texture and elegance.

Installation Costs and Average Lifespan

Costs and lifespan vary greatly with concrete and clay tile roofs depending on the material. Concrete tile roofs are more affordable and typically last around 50 years, while clay roofs are pricier but can last up to 100 years when properly maintained.

Considering you likely will only have to replace concrete or clay roof tiles once in a lifetime, they certainly pay off in the long run. Below is a table showing the average installation costs and lifespans associated with each type of cement and clay tile.

Roofing Material Material Price per Square Foot Estimated Cost for 1,700 Square Foot Roof Installation Estimated Lifespan
Cement tile  $4 to $10 $17,000 to $34,000 50 years
Terracotta clay $6 to $15 $30,000 to $45,000 100 years
Fired ceramic clay $8 to $20 $34,000 to $51,000 100 years

Environmental Impact

Cement and clay roofs are environmentally friendly roofing options produced without any chemical preservatives. These materials also increase the energy efficiency of your home with natural thermal resistance and cooling properties.

The longevity of clay and cement tiles helps keep roofing materials out of landfills. And when it is time to replace your roof, these types of roofing materials are easily recyclable.

Slate Roofing

slate best roofing materials
Credit: DigiPub / Getty Images

Slate tiles are another stone roofing option that offer great curb appeal, but instead of consisting of concrete or molded clay, they’re made from flat slabs of rock mined from quarries — that is if they’re natural slate roof tiles, of course, as there are some options out there for synthetic slate roofs. 

Natural slate roofs have to be installed by a trained roofing contractor or craftsman, making them a harder and more expensive roofing product to install.

Pros

  • Durable, able to withstand inclement weather
  • Long-lasting
  • Easily repaired
  • Naturally occurring material
  • Energy efficient
  • Recyclable 

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Heavy, may require roofing reinforcements
  • Not many roofers are equipped to install slate roofs

House Styles

Slate shingles work well for Colonial, chateau and European-style homes.

Installation Costs and Average Lifespan

Natural slate is one of the more expensive types of shingle, but costs will vary greatly depending on the roofer and the type of slate. Slate roofs typically cost between $10 and $40 per square foot, with some homeowners reporting up to $80 per square foot.

Assuming an average installation cost of $30 per square foot, you can expect to pay around $51,000 for a 1,700-square-foot slate roof. But the good news is that a well-built slate roof can easily last 100 years, sometimes even longer, so you won’t have to worry about roof replacement costs.

Environmental Impact

Slate is a natural material, so there are no toxic chemicals involved in the manufacturing process. Plus, it’s long-lasting and can be easily repaired, eliminating any need to replace the roof entirely.

Solar Shingles and Solar Glass

solar best roofing materials

Finally, we have solar glass roofs, which come in many styles. They differ from standard solar panels that are attached on top of a roof, in that the photovoltaic (PV) solar cells are built into the roof itself. 

Solar shingles were pioneered by CertainTeed but are now produced by a handful of companies. The technology comes in the form of both solar shingles and solar roof tiles made of slim PV sheets that overlay or replace the current shingles on a roof.

As of July 2022, Tesla is the only company that has come forward with a solar glass roof option. According to Tesla, its solar roof is made up of both glass solar tiles and steel roofing tiles, making it durable and weather-protected.

Pros

  • Durable, with a high hail rating
  • Generates electricity for your home, making it by far the most energy-efficient roofing option
  • More attractive than standard solar panels
  • Cost-effective if you’re building a new roof

Cons

  • Expensive
  • May not be as efficient as standard solar panels, as the technology is still evolving
  • Limited styles and colors
  • Not widely available
  • Needs to be replaced every 25-30 years

House Styles

Solar shingles are a great option for any style of roof that gets direct sunlight. Keep in mind that solar shingles will be a little darker in color than traditional roofing materials.

Installation Costs and Average Lifespan

The average solar shingle installation cost runs somewhere between $15,000 and $20,000.3 However, high-end solar shingles from a company like Tesla may cost as much as $70,000 or more for full roof installation.

Choosing a Roofing Material

It’s best to choose as strong and long-lasting a roofing material as your budget will allow. Although you’ll pay more upfront, you’ll save money over time by not having to pay for frequent roof repairs and replacements.

Durable roofing material is also better for the environment, as between 7 and 10 million tons of shingle tear-off waste and scrap are generated from residential roofing replacement and installation each year.4

Each material has its own benefits, and you need to choose the best roofing material based on your specific needs. Here are a few questions to ask yourself to start the process:

  • Is this material durable enough for the weather and climate in my area?
  • How much does this material cost?
  • How long will this material last?
  • What is the warranty for this product?
  • How heavy is this material? Will it require special reinforcements or underlayment?
  • Does this material complement my gutters and the rest of my home?
  • Does this material meet fire codes and local requirements?

You’ll also want to consider the manufacturer of your product and do some research on their reputation. For example, GAF (General Aniline & Film) is an American building material manufacturer known for its quality roofing products. And if it’s for a commercial roofing project, you’ll probably want to look into other roofing materials, like EPDM.

The best way to find out what material would be best for your home is to connect with a roofing company. Most provide free consultations and can provide expert recommendations based on budget and climate. 

FAQ: Best Roof Materials

Below, we’ll answer some of the most common questions we get about the best types of roofing materials.

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EcoWatch Reviews

The EcoWatch Reviews team is your trusted source for sustainable home recommendations. We know it can be hard to find eco-friendly solutions to common homeowner headaches. We're here to help by providing honest, unbiased reviews of brands and services. Our reviews and rankings are never affected by revenue or partnerships.