What's Over Your Head?


No roof lasts forever, and if it's time to replace yours, give a lot of thought to how best to do it. Notice the wear and tear on your neighbors' roofs over time to help figure out which materials are durable and look good on houses like yours. Observation is a great tool — and it's free!



That said, there are basic qualities of every material that you should consider when making your pick.


Asphalt shingles


  • Most popular roofing material.
  • Lightweight and easy to install, which reduces labor costs.
  • Inexpensive; cost from $70 to $120 per 100 square feet.
  • Lifespan is shorter than that of other materials, about 20 to 30 years, depending on maintenance and brand quality.
  • Work with many styles of homes, especially suburban ones.




  • Classic beauty and elegance.
  • A heavy material that requires extra framing and must be installed by a professional.
  • Expensive; costs about $600 per 100 square feet.
  • Lasts for more than 50 years.
  • Durable, fire-resistant and recyclable.
  • Fake slate looks just like real slate but is made of polymer, clay, rubber or asphalt instead, so it's more lightweight and less costly (although it will not last as long).




  • Often made of aluminum, stainless steel, zinc or copper (which fades to green).
  • Installation is easy because metal is half the weight of asphalt; comes in panels or shingles.
  • Expensive; costs anywhere from $100 to $800 per 100 square feet.
  • Lasts for 40 to 70 years, and is resistant to extreme weather.
  • Can be noisy when rain falls on it.
  • Dents easily but unnoticeably, as the texture of the roof hides any dings.
  • Reflects sunshine, which keeps your home cooler during summer.
  • Recyclable, and can be used to collect rainwater.




  • Made out of rubber, plastic and polymer to imitate natural materials at a lower price.
  • Lightweight and strong, making installation easy.
  • Costs $300 per 100 square feet.
  • Somewhat durable and fire-resistant, but some may absorb water.
  • Quality can differ greatly from supplier to supplier.


Of course, the style and geographic location of your house may affect your choice. Also, the quality of the contractor you employ may matter more than the type of material you choose. Getting the best person for the job ensures your roof will be installed correctly and that it will serve you for a long time. Venture out of your yard, do some research, and ask friends and neighbors about their roofs to get started today!