Your home is your biggest investment, and your roof is the cherry on top, so to speak. Similar to a home’s foundation, a tattered and decrepit roof is more than an aesthetic problem. It can cause water build-up and damage in the interior of your home, mold and mildew, and higher utility bills due to poor ventilation.
In this blog, we made a guide to roofing materials to help you know when it’s time to purchase a new roof, what types of roofing materials to consider, and how to make the most of the investment for years to come.
Signs You Need a New Roof
Keep an eye out for cracked, damaged, or buckling shingles. Shingles should lie flat against the roof, so anything that looks misshapen or out of place may be a sign of damage.
A droopy and sagging roof is another indication it’s time for an upgrade. If your roof looks soft and even warped, be sure to check the surface for any trapped moisture, rotting boards, or sagging spots.
Finally, beware of moss growing on certain parts of your roof. While it may look magical and enchanting in a forest, it’s usually indicative of trapped moisture between a roof and the structure of your home.
Be sure to take precautions when inspecting your roof. While visibly assessing and gently testing your roof for any damage is fine, we recommend contacting a professional for a more in-depth inspection to avoid any injuries on your part.
Do You Need a New Roof or Just a Repair?
If your roof is fairly new but showing signs of damage (such as after a heavy storm) like cracks in a few shingles or a minor water leak, then a repair may be all you need. However, if it seems like your roof has sustained serious structural issues (such as significant water damage or weak parts in the foundation of your roof), then a replacement may be in order.
If you’re noticing higher-than-usual electric bills, your roof could be the culprit. As your roof weakens and air pockets emerge, it grows less and less efficient in trapping cool air or heat within your home. This means your AC or heating system will have to work harder to regulate the temperature of your home. If this is happening to you, you may want to consider a complete roof replacement.
Types of Roofing Materials
There are more than a few types of roofing materials to choose from. After some careful consideration, you may even find yourself choosing a different type of roofing material than the current material you have. To help you choose the right roofing material for your home, we’ll help you weigh your options — from appearance, longevity, and cost.
Durable, affordable, and available in a wide variety of colors, asphalt shingles are a popular choice for roofing. Made of fiberglass, asphalt shingles are the “people’s choice” when you’re looking for something more basic yet effective.
Cost and Lifetime: Asphalt shingles typically cost around $1.50 per square foot and last around 30 years before they need to be replaced. Estimated costs do not include labor. We recommend contacting a trusted contractor for an accurate and up-to-date estimate.
Slate shingles are some of the longest-lasting roofing materials available. They’re also one of the more expensive listed in this roofing materials buying guide. Available in hard and soft forms, slate shingles are ideal for durability and endurance.
Cost and Lifetime: Slate shingles typically cost anywhere from $10 to $20 per square foot for soft slate and $20 to $30 for hard slate. A slate roof can last between 100 to 200 years. Estimated costs do not include labor. We recommend contacting a trusted contractor for an accurate and up-to-date estimate.
Clay and Concrete Tiles
For a natural and rustic look, clay and concrete tiles are an attractive choice for homeowners. Clay and concrete shingles are popular for homeowners dwelling in hot climates since they’re durable, fire-resistant, and slow to absorb heat.
Cost and Lifetime: Concrete tiles can cost between $10 to $20 per square foot, while clay tiles can cost between $12 to $25 per square foot. On average, both types of shingles have an average lifespan between 50 to 100 years. Estimated costs do not include labor. We recommend contacting a trusted contractor for an accurate and up-to-date estimate.
Durable and virtually maintenance-free, metal roofs are great at reflecting heat and are nonflammable. However, depending on the weather, certain types of metal roofing can be quite noisy during a rainstorm or hailstorm. The most common metal roofing materials are painted and coated steel and copper.
Cost and Lifetime: Metal roofs typically cost around $8.50 to $16 per square foot. On average, a metal roof will last between 40 to 70 years. Estimated costs do not include labor. We recommend contacting a trusted contractor for an accurate and up-to-date estimate.
Wood Shingles and Shakes
Wood shingles add a natural and rustic touch to a home. Wood roofing materials are usually available in two types: wood shingles and wood shakes.
Shingles are often machine cut, sawn on both sides, and usually thinner than shakes. Wood shakes are typically composed of cedar and split by hand and/or power equipment. They’re often less uniform than shingles, making each roof made up of wood shakes unique and one of a kind. Both wood shingles and shakes require upkeep every few years.
Cost and Lifetime: Wood shingles and cedar shakes typically cost around $9.50 to $15.50 per square foot. On average, wood shingles and shakes will last around 30 years. Estimated costs do not include labor. We recommend contacting a trusted contractor for an accurate and up-to-date estimate.
Synthetic Shingles and Shakes
For homeowners who love the look of cedar or slate but don’t like the upkeep, synthetic shakes and shingles are a terrific option. Synthetic (sometimes referred to as composite) are made of recycled materials and designed to look exactly like cedar or slate, while boasting the durability and longevity of synthetic materials.
DaVinci Roofscapes offers a synthetic shake known to last decades without the maintenance issues of typical cedar shakes. Able to handle winds up to 110 miles per hour, DaVinci offers single-width, multi-width, bellaforté, select shake, and hand-split options.
Currently, synthetic shingles and shakes are significantly cheaper than wood or slate, and their durability and virtually maintenance-free options can actually provide a greater return on investment than their traditional wood counterparts.
Cost and Lifetime: Synthetic shingles and shakes typically cost between $8.50 and $14.50 per square foot. Installation typically costs around $9.50 to $15.50 per square foot. On average, synthetic shingles and shakes can last up to 50 years. Estimated costs do not include labor. We recommend contacting a trusted contractor for an accurate and up-to-date estimate.
Rubber Composite Shingles
With proper installation, rubber composite shingles are incredibly resistant and can withstand strong winds up to 110 miles per hour. They’re also an excellent choice for withstanding extreme weather conditions and have been tested to withstand impact from hail up to 2-inches in diameter.
Cost and Lifetime: Rubber shingles typically cost around $4.25 to $8.25 per square foot. On average, rubber shingles can last for 30 years or more. Estimated costs do not include labor. We recommend contacting a trusted contractor for an accurate and up-to-date estimate.
What to Consider Before Purchasing Roofing Materials
It’s not just the different types of roof shingles you need to consider before starting the project. Cost, contractors, and warranties are three important factors to consider when choosing a roof. As part of our guide to roofing materials, let’s explore how to make the most of your budget and find a contractor experienced in roofing repair and replacement.
The national average cost to replace a roof is around $8,000, and that price is mainly made up of the type of roofing materials you choose and how big your home’s roof is. If you’re strapped for cash and in need of immediate repairs to your roof, you can ask the bank for a personal loan, inquire about a home equity line of credit, or look into home improvements grants such as the Repairing and Improving a Home program.
As with all home improvement projects, determining your budget will help you figure out what you realistically can and can’t do. As we touched on above, asphalt shingles are going to be the best bet for a more budget-conscious homeowner. If the price of a new roof is of no concern to you, then any roofing material will likely work, though you’ll still want to keep in mind components like weather resistance and maintenance needs.
It’s important to understand the warranty on your new roof. Your roof’s lifespan will depend greatly on installation, climate, and maintenance, and having a warranty will help protect your investment.
When evaluating warranties, check the length of the policy, what’s covered (manufacturer’s warranty for material defects, labor to repair material defects, installation, workmanship, etc.), and homeownership warranty transferability.
If you only take one thing away from this roofing materials buying guide, it should be the importance of finding trusted contractors. If your contractor isn’t experienced with installation, working within a certain timeframe, and staying as close to your budget as possible, then your roofing remodel or repair will be a disaster. Before signing a contract, always be sure to learn as much about the contractor and their working style before entering into a final agreement.
A Few Basics on Roof Maintenance
No matter what type of roof you have and how durable the materials are, roof maintenance is essential to prevent leaks and make the structure last longer. The last thing you want is to have your brand new roof suffer serious damage because of a lack of proper routine maintenance.
To help you get the most out of your new roof, below are a few basic maintenance tips to help you protect your investment:
- Clean your gutters. Leaves, branches, sticks, and pieces of your shingles can end up in your gutters, causing issues in the long run. Clogged gutters can cause rainwater to pile up and gather on your roof, causing water damage if left to persist. To clean your gutters, use a sturdy ladder with a stabilizer and scoop out the dirt and debris out of the gutter channel.
- Schedule routine roof maintenance. The best time to do a roof inspection is during the spring. This is will allow you to take a look at your roof after the winter, when snow, ice, and water can tend to take a toll on your roof. It’s also a much more pleasant (and safer) time to move around the yard and inspect the roof.
- Trim vegetation and trees. Trees can provide wonderful shade and aesthetics to your yard, but they can also be a major reason for your gutters constantly getting clogged. More than that, heavy branches too close to your house can break off under heavy winds and permanently damage your roof.