Which Roofing Material Is Best For Your Home?

Posted on: 2 May 2016

Picking out the right roofing material can be very difficult. There are a lot of different factors to consider, which can be quite overwhelming at times. However, breaking the situation down into smaller sections can often make a decision easier to reach. To that end, here is a comparison of price and longevity across several of the most popular roofing materials:


As a baseline, you have asphalt, which is the most common roofing material for residential areas. Asphalt costs anywhere from $1 to $4 per square foot and lasts 20-30 years. This means that you are going to end up paying about $.03 in the best case and $.20 in the worst case for every single square foot per year. While this may seem like a great deal, it is actually comparable to what a lot of other materials can offer.


Concrete is quite similar to asphalt, but is a little heavier and a little pricier. Expect to pay $4.50 to $9 for each square foot, with the price going up to $10 if you elect to get a more specialized variant. Although this is more expensive than asphalt, it also lasts a lot longer, potentially providing you with a roof for 100 years. Conveniently, this does end up being cheaper than asphalt, since you will only be paying $.04 to $.09 per square foot per year.

However, this price can rapidly rise if you decide that you want to get a lightweight variant of concrete, and if you do not get a lightweight variant, then you will need to deal with the additional difficulties posed by transporting and installing a very heavy material. This can push the price up quite a bit, and when combined with the fact that concrete roofing is pretty cheap per square foot, that means that the price of transportation and installation is a much larger portion of the total cost with concrete than it is with other materials.


At the high end of the spectrum, you have clay, which is reddish and highly prized. However, this does come at a steep cost of anywhere from $10 to $30 per square foot for high quality clay and a lifespan comparable to that of concrete. Again, this means that you are going to be paying anywhere from $.10 to $.30 for a square foot per year. This is surprising to many, since it is much closer to the value of asphalt than they would initially expect. Although clay may cost 5-10 times as much as asphalt, it can also last for proportionally longer as well.


For another expensive option, you have slate, which runs anywhere from $10 to $40 per square foot. Like concrete, it can be fairly heavy and difficult to install. However, slate also tends to last anywhere from 60 to 150 years. This ends up creating a massive range of possible value, costing anywhere from $.07 to $.66 per square foot per year. To get good value out of a slate roof, you need to make sure that you get the slate at a low cost upfront and that you make sure to properly maintain your roof so that it doesn't need replacement in less than a century.

Materials like clay and slate pose a new question that you will need to consider: would you prefer frequent or infrequent replacements of your roof? It's natural to lean towards infrequent replacements, but that does involve much larger expenditures when you do need to replace your roof. You will also need to worry about damage to your roof, because if a clay roof is severely damaged after a couple of decades, then you will have lost a huge amount of value.