What’s the Best Roofing Material?

If you’re looking for the best roofing material for your home, you might find yourself confused. There are quite a few choices! And the price points are all over the place. What makes a roofing material the best, anyway. How do you go about researching and choosing the right roofing material for your home? In this post we’ll go over five of the top choices.

Asphalt shingle roofing

About 70% of U.S. homes have asphalt shingles installed already. All the big builders use these shingles as their default choice, as they’re the most affordable option. They’re not the best option for longevity, as they don’t last as long as the other options on this list, but we have to address them because they’re used most often.

Under normal circumstances in Florida, your architectural shingle roof can last 15–20 years. If you work with a certified contractor and choose a collection of products like GAF’s Lifetime Roofing System, you’re getting a better-quality system. Their system requires you to use their:

Architectural shingles provide a nice-looking shadow line.
  • Leak barrier
  • Roof deck protection
  • Starter strip shingles
  • Shingles
  • Cobra attic ventilation
  • Ridge cap shingles.

This collection can get you closer to 30 years with your new roof, and you’ll end up with a very high quality and good looking roof. Your cost will be from about $350 per square, or 100 square feet. Tear off will be extra at $70–80 per square.

Asphalt shingles are susceptible to algae growth in humid climates like we have in Florida, but top-quality shingles incorporate an algaecide to prevent those ugly dark streaks. The best quality asphalt shingles also carry the top Class A fire rating, which is no small detail. So all in all, when you work with a qualified contractor and choose a top shingle package, you will be getting a very high-quality roof at an excellent price.

Now we’ll get into the premium materials that can last for many decades.

Tile roofing

This type of roofing is definitely of the best roofing materials. Tile roofing comes in a couple different varieties these days: clay and concrete. People have been using clay tiles for centuries, as they’ve proven their beauty and durability. They do have some weak points, of course, but overall they are definitely one of the best roofing materials. So what’s the difference between clay tiles and concrete tiles?

Concrete tiles are relatively new, but concrete has been used for different building materials for quite a long time and is proven. When used for roofing tiles, concrete is extremely durable and you’ll probably get a 50-year warranty. Concrete typically exhibits efflorescence, which is white spots or streaking on the surface. It’s purely cosmetic and will eventually fade and/or be washed away. It’s just part of the chemical makeup of concrete.

You’ll find that concrete tiles are available in a wide array of profiles, colors, and finishes to suit different tastes. Concrete tiles are quite heavy, but newer homes built with trusses are usually strong enough to support the load. Your roofing contractor can evaluate that for you if you’re upgrading from asphalt shingles. You’ll pay $950 per square and up for concrete tiles, plus tear off.

Clay Tile Roofing

Clay tiles are also available in different profiles and different colors, but not quite as many as concrete tiles. These have proven their value and durability for centuries and compared to concrete tiles, are more expensive but will last longer. Tile roofs that are 100+ years old are commonplace in some parts of the world. Partly that’s because they absorb less moisture. Like old pottery, after they’re fired they’re nearly impervious to moisture and just shed the rain. Their beauty and classic look cannot be overstated. For clay tiles, you’ll pay $1400 per square on average, but you’ll see quite a range based on the tiles you’re looking at.

most popular roof designs in Florida
Clay tiles provide a classic look.

For both types of tiles, it’s a good idea to hire a professional to clean your roof once a year, which might include power washing to remove algae and/or moss. You should avoid walking on a tile roof, which can lead to broken tiles. That’s the main risk for both types of tile roof—breakage.

Slate roofing

Slate roofing is made of a special type of stone that will split just right to be used as roofing tiles. It’s heavy, expensive, durable, and beautiful. It provides a classic and solid look. That’s why people with high-end homes who are not budget driven choose slate. Plus, when you consider that a slate roof can last more than 100 years, it’s actually a good value. Yes, you’ll pay from $1000–$3000 and up per square, plus tear off, but slate is considered the premium roofing material. Sure, that’s a big range in cost, as there are many different grades of slate. Soft grades are cheaper and hard grades are more expensive. Thicker tiles cost more and will be more durable over time. Overall, you can’t go wrong in choosing slate for your premium home.

Composite roofing

Composite roofing is a newer product that looks very promising. You can find roof tiles that mimic slate tiles, clay tiles, and cedar shakes. In comparison to those materials, you’ll get lighter weight than slate and clay tiles, much greater impact resistance than clay tiles, and greater fire resistance than cedar shakes. The manufacturers claim that they mold their tiles directly from the shakes or tiles they’re trying to mimic. Some manufacturers use a mix of recycled and virgin plastic and other components. Others use only virgin plastic. You’ll see a wide range of pricing, from about $700 per square to over $1500 per square installed. You’ll also see warranties of 50 years, so that’s excellent. The concern with composite roofing is that it hasn’t actually been proven in the field for 50 years.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofing offers you the most choices. You can consider screw-down roofing, standing seam roofing, aluminum, Galvalume, zinc, copper, and metal tiles. All of these are good choices, but a couple stand out as premium choices.

  • Screw-down roofing: while screw-down roofing is a solid and durable choice, it’s not a premium choice. It is a good value and will start at about $550 per square. Your contractor will install this with visible screws from the top, thus the name “screw-down.”
  • Aluminum roofing: great in coastal areas, as it will never rust. Aluminum is soft, so it does not offer the same impact resistance as steel or Galvalume, and the natural gray color is bland. But you can get a painted/coated finish and it looks good. Expect to pay $1000+ per square for a 30+ year roof.
  • Galvalume roofing: this is a hybrid roof with a steel panel coated with zinc and aluminum for corrosion resistance. The cost is low at around $550 per square, and you get the strength of steel.

The Best Metal Roofing

Overall, the following materials offer the most durability for your money, as well as a lot of variety in appearance, finishes, and price points.

Turqiose Metal Roof
Standing seam metal roofs look good with most building types.
  • Standing seam roofing: you can get this type of roof in several different materials, including coated steel, aluminum, and zinc. A standing seam roof uses hidden clips screwed into the roof decking, then the panels lock together. It looks very clean and tidy and it’s also very strong and wind resistant. I think a standing-seam zinc roof is one of the best choices, as long as it aligns with your home’s design. You’ll pay from $1000 per square and up, depending on the material you choose. With a standing seam roof, you’re getting a 50+ year roof.
  • Zinc roofing: both zinc and copper develop a patina on the surface, and only copper is more expensive. However, zinc is stronger and offers a more subtle appearance. You’ll pay from $1200 per square for a roof that should last for 80+ years. Definitely a top choice.
  • Copper roofing: at $1500 per square, copper is definitely a high-end material. You often see it used on churches and institutional buildings, as well as on home entryways as a way to add some pizzazz. There’s nothing else as flashy as copper! Plus, over time it develops the green patina, verdigris.
  • Metal tiles: you may have seen metal tiles many times and didn’t realize you were looking at metal instead of another material. They’re remarkable, and very durable. These start at around $750 per square and you’ll see them in a variety of profiles and finishes, usually made from steel. This is a very good roof and you’ll often see a 50-year warranty.

So What’s the Best Roofing Material for the Tampa Bay Area?

Have you made your choice? We can help you decide which roof option is best for your home. Give us a call at 813-373-9088. Our team has more than 40 years of experience in roofing. You can also use this form and ask us “What’s the best roof material?” and we will contact you.

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