Most roofs in the United States are covered with asphalt shingles. This doesn’t mean asphalt is your only choice; there are many different roof materials that could provide the right mix of aesthetics, value, and protection from the elements. Let’s look at the advantages and disadvantages of the more common ones.

Asphalt is the Leader Among Different Roof Materials

As mentioned above, asphalt is a popular roofing material. What’s more, asphalt shingles available today come in a wide assortment of colors. While not all that eco-friendly, asphalt shingles are easy to install and affordable with a cost range of $1.50 to $3.50 per square foot.

Other advantages and disadvantages:

  • Pro: Easy to replace and repair
  • Con: Life expectancy is on the shorter side at 15-30 years
  • Pro: Fire resistant
  • Con: Generally considered high maintenance, especially if you are in an area where you see high winds and storms on a regular basis

Tile Roofing

You’ll also get a wide assortment of colors and textures with tile. The main drawback of tile roofing is the cost. Clay tiles, for example, will set you back $10 to $18 per square foot. Different roof materials made of tile that are more exotic can run up to $30 per square foot.

Other advantages and disadvantages:

  • Pro: Tile roofing can last for more than a century
  • Con: Durable, but still breakable if walked on
  • Pro: Low-maintenance
  • Con: Heavy, expensive, and difficult to install

Concrete tiles are lighter, cost less, and have a shorter lifespan than clay tiles. 

Different Roof Materials Made From Metal

Once considered mainly for commercial use, metal roofing has become an appealing choice for many homeowners in recent years. Metal roofing is available in different types of metal and colors. 

Other advantages and disadvantages:

  • Pro: Energy efficient, recyclable, and fire retardant
  • Con: Installation can be complicated
  • Pro: Can last, on average, 30-50 years or more
  • Con: On the expensive side at $7 to $10 per square foot


Wood shingle or shake roofs are attractive, but you may want to look at different roof materials if your roof is regularly exposed to a lot of moisture. Still, there are many different options with the type of wood you can use, and special chemicals can be used to provide additional protection from rot. Costs for wood roofing range from $4.50 to $11 per square foot with shakes being more of an investment.

Other advantages and disadvantages:

  • Pro: Fairly long lifespan – from 20 to 60 years, on average
  • Con: Difficult to install
  • Pro: Excellent insulation and easy to repair
  • Con: Not fire-resistant and fairly high-maintenance


Slate roofing has been known to last for well over a hundred years. But a true slate roof is going to be heavy, so make sure you have a structure that can support it or plan on reinforcing your home before installing slate. Slate is a significant investment at $30 to $75 per square foot.

Other advantages and disadvantages:

  • Pro: Increased curb appeal and home value
  • Con: Heavy and expensive
  • Pro: Not combustible
  • Con: Not all roofing companies install slate roofs

A more affordable alternative to authentic slate is synthetic slate shingles. They usually come with a 50-year warranty. And while not as durable as a genuine slate roof, they’ll cost you about $6 to $12 per square foot.

Florida Superior Inspections provides home inspection services and roof certifications to Southwest Florida. Contact us to schedule an appointment.