When it comes time to choosing a new roof, some key considerations are the type of material, style, color and of course, cost. There are many different types of roofing materials available now, including a lot of roofing materials that have a variety of green attributes, such as being ENERGY STAR rated or containing recycled content.
Here is a list of the most popular roofing materials, including key factors like cost, life span and level of sustainability so you can choose the right roof for your new home:
Asphalt shingles: Over 75% of American roofs have asphalt shingles due to low cost, ease of installation, and resiliency. Unfortunately, asphalt shingles have a low insulative value and a shorter lifespan than many other roofing materials available today. They are also made from petroleum products and are not usually recyclable because of the layer of fiberglass added to the shingles. Standard asphalt shingles come in a variety of colors, longevity options, and price points and are always going to be your cheapest option for your roof, but they have the worst environmental track record.
House Style: Can be used for any architectural style.
Cost: $50 to $150 per square (10 x 10 area = 100 square feet = 1 square)
Life Span: 15 to 30 years
Green Factor: Least-green roofing option.
Wood shingles and shakes: Wood shingles and shakes can be purchased in cedar, redwood, southern pine and other woods, cedar being the most costly. Wood shingles are cut by machine, while wood shakes are handmade and have a rougher look. Since most wood shingles and shakes only have Class C fire ratings or no ratings at all, be sure to check your local building codes before deciding on this type of roofing. You can purchase Class A wood shingles with fire-resistant treatment for an additional cost.
House Style: Ranch, cottage, bungalows, cottage, historic and contemporary
Cost: $100 to $165 per square (10 x 10 area = 100 square feet = 1 square)
Life Span: 30 to 50 years
Green Factor: A natural product, but very high maintenance, poor fire rating and they tend to rot, split and mold.
A great alternative to wood shingles and shakes are recycled synthetic shingles, which are made from plastic or rubber, mixed with recycled wood and are shaped to mimic wood shakes. They are lightweight, UV-resistant, fire-resistant, and long lasting. Some are comparable in lifespan to 50-year asphalt shingles. Though they generally cannot be recycled, due to their inseparable mixture of biological and plastic content, recycled synthetic shingles are still a greener material than real cedar shakes.
Clay & Concrete Tiles: Clay tiles are very heavy, requiring additional roof framing, but they are non-combustible and extremely durable. Clay roofing tiles can come in lighter colors, which adhere to the cool roof standards and can reflect well over 50% of the sun's solar energy. Concrete roofing tiles offer elegant, enduring aesthetics for your home's design and added value. Concrete tiles are very versatile and provide greater protection to the homeowner. These flexible tiles come in so many different hues, shapes, textures and styles that they don't even look like tiles at all. Shingle, shake and slate are just some of the varieties of tile.
House Style: Mediterranean, European, Mission and some contemporary or ranch-style homes.
Cost: $300 to $600 per square (10 x 10 area = 100 square feet = 1 square)
Life Span: 50 plus years
Green Factor: If a local source is available, clay tiles are definitely one of the greenest roofing choices. Concrete is highly energy-efficient and can be made from a sustainable mixture.
Slate: Slate has a beautiful, distinctive appearance. Although very heavy, a slate roof is non-leaching and will last for hundreds of years. It is easy to repair and recycle. Because slate is often a dark color it isn't recommended for high-heat locations.
House Style: Colonial, French, and Chateau
Cost: $550 to $1000 per square (10 x 10 area = 100 square feet = 1 square)
Life Span: 50 to 100 years
Green Factor: Excellent sustainable roofing choice. Quarrying and splitting slate tile has little environmental impact compared to the production of other roofing products.
Metal (steel, aluminum, tile and copper): Metal roofs are some of the coolest roofs around, both in temperature and style for new homes. Metal roofs are available in copper, aluminum, and stainless steel, and often have a high percentage of recycled content. They offer high insulation solar reflectance, and durability, often lasting twice as long as wood or asphalt. Metal shingles typically simulate traditional roof coverings, such as wood shakes, shingles, slate and tile. Aside from its longevity, metal shingles are much lighter than most materials and very resistance to adverse weather.
House Style: Bungalow, ranch, contemporary, cottage
Cost: S starts around $100 per square (10 x 10 area = 100 square feet = 1 square) but can run up to $600 for coated steels and copper.
Life Span: At least 50 years
Green Factor: Very green because they are highly energy-efficient and environmentally friendly.
Fiber Cement: Fiber-cement composite tile is composed of concrete, clay, and wood fiber. This mixture is both durable and fireproof and often shaped to look like shakes. Fiber-cement tiles are not as heavy as regular concrete tiles so they don't need extra-heavy roof structures. Fiber cement is available in a variety of textures and colors and is very durable — as long as you don't step on them or live in very cold climates because they can crack.
House Style: Works with any architectural style
Cost: $500 per square (10 x 10 area = 100 square feet = 1 square)
Life Span: 20 to 30 years
Green Factor: Can be recycled, are non-leaching and make a good base for water collection.