While it takes some fun out of the buying process, there is more to roofing than simply choosing a color.
A few other significant decisions need to be made before a roof can be installed. The biggest question is: what shingle type should I choose for my home?
In the United States, asphalt shingles are popular. However, they are not the only material to choose from.
There are metal roofs, slate and clay roofs, composite roofs – and many more.
So, how do you tell which roof is best for you?
Rescue My Roof has spent over a decade helping homeowners answer the same questions in the roofing industry. We’re here to help guide you through the process, too.
In this article, we will be going over the differences between each shingle type and the top questions you should ask before purchasing. This way, you can be sure that you are making the best decision for your home.
Available Shingle Styles
It can be challenging to settle on one roofing style when installing the roof of your dreams. It can be even more challenging to find a list of all of the available shingle types to choose from.
In the spirit of transparency and ensuring you have an easy time making decisions, Rescue My Roof has created this guide to give you everything you need to know about shingle materials all in one place.
Here are the shingles styles you may consider for your home:
Asphalt shingles are perfect for homes that experience all types of weather. For example, here in the midwest, we see it all. Rain, snow, hail, extreme heat, you name it. Asphalt shingles are standard because they handle well in all weather conditions.
This may make initially choosing asphalt shingles relatively easy. Do I live in that type of climate? Yes? Sign me up! But the decisions don’t stop there.
There are three types of asphalt shingles: 3-Tab, Dimensional, and Luxury.
3-Tab shingles are designed to be deceptive. One shingle is 36 inches long, with three 12 inch sections (tabs). They look like three different shingles, but in reality, they are all one piece.
3-tab shingles are the most cost-effective of the three options, averaging $1-2 per square foot. They are also less labor-intensive, so you will not have to pay additional costs associated with additional time spent.
There are some benefits to 3-Tab Shingles, including:
- More cost-effective than dimensional or luxury shingles
- Provides a uniform look to your roof
- One of the most common shingles
But, there are drawbacks. 3-tab shingles are more common amongst older homes. So if you want your home to have a more modern look, you may want to consider another option.
Dimensional shingles are asphalt shingles but with a bit of spice.
Dimensional shingles are growing in popularity because they look higher-end than the traditional asphalt shingle, but they are still budget-friendly.
These shingles are layered, and the added thickness makes it look like cedar shake. If you like the look of cedar shake shingles like those pictured below but don’t like the added costs, these shingles may be for you.
Dimensional shingles are only a bit more expensive than 3-tab shingles at$2-4 per square foot. You get a higher-quality-looking shingle than the 3-tab for a bit higher cost. Fortunately, they also do not require much extra labor to install, therefore saving on costs.
If you want a very high-end finish to your home, luxury shingles are going to add that incredible look of luxury.
What separates luxury shingles from the others? They are bigger, bolder, and fancier. But you pay for that high-end finish. They are much more expensive than their counterparts.
If you’re in the market for something budget-friendly, a traditional asphalt shingle may be a better fit for you.
Luxury shingles are luxury for a reason. Be ready to pay for the quality at $4-5 per square foot. Luxury shingles also require different installation techniques that not every company has experience in, so you may be paying more for a company that can do the work.
However, if you want the added curb appeal to match the aesthetic of your home and have a big budget, luxury shingles may be in the cards for you.
Composite shingles are made from engineered materials like recycled plastics and rubber. Because they are manufactured from recyclable or already recycled materials, they can be made to look like asphalt shingles, cedar shakes, or slate shingles.
If you are an environmentalist with a big budget, composite shingles may be a consideration for you. Composite roofs generally run between $13 – $20 per square foot, which means if you have a 1200 sq. ft. Roof, you would be paying upwards of $15,000.
If you are considering composite shingles as an option, here are a few questions to consider:
- How will composite shingles fit in with your neighborhood?
- Are composite shingles in your budget?
- Are you prepared to search around for a roofing contractor certified to install composite shingles?
- Do you want to invest in an environmentally friendly option?
- Are you living in your forever home?
Composite shingles might be for you if you answered “yes” to 2-3 of these questions. If you didn’t, you might want to consider other shingle options.
Cedar Shake Shingles
A cedar shake roof is one of the premium roofing materials you can use. The shingles are made out of natural wood and give your home a natural, woodsy look.
Cedar shake roofs can range anywhere between $15 to $20 per square foot, so if you have a 1,200 square ft. Roof, you would be paying approximately $18,000-$24,000.
Like all roof installations, the prices may vary depending on whether or not the decking needs to be replaced or if the crew comes across any issues that may cause delays.
Cedar shake roofing can be complex, but here are some questions you should consider to help you decide whether or not it’s for you:
- What is the typical style of roof in my neighborhood?
- How much time do I want to put into roof maintenance?
- Does cedar shake roofing fit into my budget?
- Is there a specialty contractor in your area?
If cedar shake roofing is in your budget, there’s a contractor in your area, and you are up to the maintenance, then cedar shake roofing may be in your future.
A slate roof is made from natural slate stone, mined, and then cut to form shingles.
It’s beautiful, long-lasting, and they are often so desirable that manufacturers make asphalt shingles that look like slate.
However, their beauty comes at a high price.
Because the shingles are hand-cut, installation is complex, and they have unmatched durability, slate shingles are costly.
Slate roofs are very heavy, and many homes are not framed to manage the weight.
You may have to add supports in your house and redo the framing to ensure that your roof won’t cave in.
You will have to have an engineer come out and inspect the situation. They will help you decide what areas of your home will need extra support to help hold the roof.
The framing of your home will have to be redone before the roof installation, which will add to the high cost of a slate roof.
Slate roofs can cost approximately $20-35 per square foot. If your roof is the average square footage of 1,200 sq. ft., you can expect to pay $24,00-42,000 with no issues.
If you are ready to tackle their high cost and the possibility of a home reframing, then slate shingles may be in your future.
Clay roofs are a premium roofing system made out of clay tiles. These tiles are hand-shaped and then baked at high temperatures.
Because of the iron content in clay, they are transformed into a red terracotta color when the tiles are baked. Different manufacturer techniques can produce different shades of red, adding a lot of depth to your roof.
You will often see clay tiles in warmer climates as they can handle extremely high temperatures. If you live in an area prone to heat and wildfires, this may be a suitable material for you.
However, they do have their downfalls. You may need a specialized contractor, they are heavier than an asphalt roof, and they can be pricey.
Once installed, clay roofs can cost anywhere from $15 to $25 per square foot.
They are much more expensive than asphalt shingles, but they are less expensive than the slate and concrete alternatives.
However, reinforcing the structure of your home is a cost that should be factored into your budget. That work alone can cost up to $10,000.
Picking a roofing material can be challenging, but when it comes to clay roofing, there are two significant factors to consider: budget and the structure of your home.
If a clay roof appeals to you, one of the first steps should be calling an engineer to inspect your home. If your home is not up to the weighty challenge clay roofs present, you will need to beef up the structure of your home.
This leads to our next point: you need to evaluate your budget. You could easily spend upwards of $40,000 installing a clay roof. Examine your budget ahead of time to ensure this roof is financially feasible for you.
5 Questions to Ask Before Buying Roof Shingles
Now that you have all of the information about each shingle material, there are still a few questions to answer to determine which will be the best fit for your home.
Here are the top five questions to ask before making a decision:
1. Which Shingle Has the Best Appearance?
This is a question to solely determine what looks you would like for your home. There is no right or wrong answer, only opinions.
In all of your roofing research, you may have discovered a shingle material that other homeowners hate, but you love the look of. That’s okay! Not everyone has the same taste or vision for their home.
As long as you are financially capable of purchasing the shingle and you believe it’s beautiful, then you may have found the perfect roof type for your home.
2. What Shingle Style is in My Neighborhood?
If there is a similar shingle-style throughout your neighborhood, you might feel uncomfortable sticking out. That is why we recommend going with a similar shingle style prevalent throughout your area.
Typically, this will be asphalt shingles. However, if you live in a warmer climate, slate or clay shingles might be more popular.
However, if you find the type of roof you want and it doesn’t match the neighborhood- don’t let that deter you.
As long as there are no Homeowners Associations with rules to follow, there are no repercussions to choosing a style different from the status quo.
3. Do I Have to Get My Shingles Approved?
We’ve all heard the horror stories about those pesky HOAs. Don’t fall into hundreds, potentially thousands of dollars in fees. Always do your research to see if there are rules regarding what materials can be used.
Check in with your local HAO to see what shingle styles and colors are allowed. This will narrow down the selection that you will have.
4. What is My Budget?
As seen above, shingle prices can vary greatly from material to material.
Premium materials like slate, metal, and wood are going to be much more pricey than your traditional asphalt shingle.
If you have a lower budget where you will need cost-effective options, that will narrow down your choices. You may have to go with the traditional asphalt shingle to save on costs.
While you might get better durability with premium materials, there are still benefits to sticking with the asphalt shingles, like a lower price, 50-year warranties, and many color choices.
5. Is This My Forever Home?
If you don’t plan on staying in a home for long, there may not be many benefits to adding on a metal, slate, or cedar shake roof. The materials are pricey, the maintenance can be complex, and may not significantly affect the resale value.
You can still get a roof that adds a lot of curb appeal with a cost-effective material that will save you money in the long run.
However, if you are in your forever home, you might want to invest more money into your roof to get something long-lasting.
Reflect on whether or not this is a temporary housing situation. The answer may impact how much money you want to spend on a new roof.
Picking the Right Shingle Style for Your Home
Buying a new roof can be anxiety-inducing, but ideally, picking a shingle-style can be the fun part.
Now that you have everything you need to know about shingles, from the prices to the pros and cons, you can go forth and make your home beautiful!
You can learn more about the next step, roofing finishings, with “Active Ventilation vs. Passive Ventilation (and How To Choose).”
If you have a material in mind and are ready to begin, let us rescue your roof. Rescue My Roof has serviced the greater Milwaukee area for over a decade and has produced hundreds of happy homeowners. You can be next! Contact us today to receive a free estimate.