There are a wide range of choices when it comes to choosing your finished roof. Material options include asphalt, wood, metal, plastic, clay, stone, and clay tile. You can buy shingles, rolls, panels, or strips. You can have almost any texture or color you want. Prices vary from as little as $.50 per square foot to as much as $10 per square foot.
A number of things will affect the cost of a new roof. The price of the material is the starting point, but other factors also must be considered. One is the condition of the existing roof if you are remodeling a house, because if old materials must be stripped off and if the supporting structure needs repair, that will all cost money. The shape of the roof is another contributing factor.
Unfortunately, not every roofing material can be used on every roof. A flat roof or one with a low slope may demand a surface different from one with a steeper pitch. Materials like slate and tile are very heavy, so the many homes fail to carry the load. Consider the following options, then talk with your designer and get estimates for the job.
The most commonly used of all roof materials, it’s the least expensive and requires a minimum of skill to install. It’s made of a fiberglass medium mixed with asphalt and then given a surface of sand-like granules. Two basic configurations are sold: the standard single-thickness variety and thicker, laminated products. The standard type costs roughly half as much, but laminated shingles have an appealing textured appearance and last roughly half as long.
Wood was the main choice for centuries, and it’s still a good option but can be forbidden in some areas’ fire codes. Usually made of cedar, redwood, or southern pine, shingles are sawn or split. They have a life expectancy in the 25-year range (like asphalt shingles) but cost an average of twice as much.
Aluminum, steel, copper, copper-and-asphalt, and lead are all durable—and expensive—roofing surfaces. Lead and the copper/asphalt varieties are typically installed as shingles, but others are manufactured for seamed roofs consisting of vertical lengths of metal that are joined with solder. These roofs start at about $250 per square but often cost two or three times that. Tile and Cement. The half-cylinders of tile roofing are common on Spanish Colonial and Mission styles; cement and some metal roofs imitate tile’s wavy effect. All are expensive, very durable, and tend to be very heavy.
Slate is among the most durable of all roofing materials. Not all slate is the same—some comes from quarries in Vermont, some from Pennsylvania and other states—but the best of it will outlast the fasteners that hold it in place. Hundred-year-old slate, in fact, is often recycled for reinstallation, with the expectation it will last another century. But slate is expensive—typically prices start at about $800 a square—and very heavy.
MAKING THE CHOICE
More often than not, if you are remodeling, the existing roof of your house will determine your choice of roofing material. Should you be considering other options, you’ll want to consider not only the cost but the color, texture, weight, and durability of your alternatives, as well as what traditionally has been used on houses like yours.