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Posted by McElroy Metal ● Jan 16, 2024 8:00 AM

Pros and Cons: Diving Deep into Roof Replacement Materials

Replacing your roof is a big investment, so it’s only natural that you put a lot of thought into every aspect of the job, from the color to the contractor you plan to use. 

One of the biggest roof replacement decisions is what kind of roofing material you’re going to use. That’s something that will affect not only the appearance of your new roof but also the lifespan you can expect from it and the budget for your replacement roof project. Let’s take a closer look at some of the roof replacement materials you could choose so you can make an informed decision. 

Residence Stillman Valley, ILPopular Roof Replacement Materials

The first thing we need to cover when you’re investigating roof replacement material options is what the popular options are. The most common choices are:

  • Asphalt and architectural shingles – the former being the traditional flat shingles and the latter the laminated and shaped options that offer more dimensional interest to your roof
  • Metal roofing, which includes metal roof sheeting, concealed fastened and mechanical seam options, metal tile, and other products
  • Wood shingles and shakes, including the popular classic cedar shingles that are popular in more traditional styles of home
  • Tile, which could be cement tile or clay tile
  • Natural slate roof tiles

There are other roofing material options out there, but in North America, these are definitely the top options for new roofs and replacement roof projects, so it’s a safe bet that you will find your new roof material on this list. 

Pros, Cons, and Durability of Popular Roof Replacement Materials

Every roofing material on the market has pros and cons, and the trick to finding the right one is to focus on the things that matter most to you. 

If low-maintenance roofing is your top priority, that might exclude some of the options out there. On the other hand, if cost is a primary factor, you might need to exclude others. Let’s compare all of these options so you can see everything you need to know at a glance. 

Asphalt Shingle
Asphalt shingles are affordable, come in a huge variety of colors, and are easy to install. They’re also readily available, so they’re easy to replace as needed.
This kind of roofing material offers very little insulation benefit; most types aren’t very eco-friendly, and they don’t last as long as some other types of roofing.
Asphalt shingles have one of the shortest roofing material lifespans, coming in at just 15 to 18 years.
Architectural Shingle
Architectural shingles are relatively durable, they look great when installed correctly, and while they cost a little more than asphalt shingles, they’re still very affordable.
Architectural shingles are very weather-sensitive during installation – which means before they are installed, they need to be protected from rain and other inclement weather. They’re also much heavier than asphalt shingles, and because they are shaped, matching them when you need to replace some can be tricky.
The lamination process to create architectural shingles adds about five years to their lifespan, so you can expect them to last between 20 and 23 years.
Metal Roofing
Metal roofing comes in a broad range of profiles, products, and colors, so there’s something to suit most design styles. 
They’re also very durable and, when installed correctly, one of the most effective water barriers. They’re also a much more eco-friendly roofing choice.
Metal roofing generally costs a little more than some of the other roofing options out there. 
You might struggle to find a metal roofing installer in some places because it’s not as popular as some other materials yet.
Metal roofs are one of the most durable options available, with most manufacturers offering lifespan warranties between 30 and 50 years, depending on the profile and material and where it’s installed. In fact, some studies have shown that metal roofing can last up to 60 years when installed correctly and in certain climates.
Tile is one of the most recognizable roofing materials, and when you’re building or upgrading a Spanish or mission-style home, it's a popular choice. 
Roof tile also comes in a huge variety of styles, colors, and designs, so there’s usually something to match every taste.
Tile roofs tend to crack, and cracks let water in. So, you’ll need to keep some spare tiles on hand for repairs and expect ongoing maintenance. 
Tile roofs are also much heavier than most other kinds of roofing, so you might need to make changes to your roof structure if you’re replacing another material on your roof with roof tile.
Like slate roofs, a well-maintained tile roof has an exceptionally long lifespan, often between 50 and 100 years.
Slate roofing is incredibly hard-durable, long-lasting, and a beautiful, luxurious product.
A slate roof is literally made of stone, so it is very heavy. If your roof structure is not designed for it, you might need to make major changes to carry that weight. 
Slate is also a very expensive product, and there are limited contractors who can install it properly.
Slate roofs are very durable when installed correctly, and lifespan estimates approach 100 years.

Cost Benefit Analysis: Initial Costs Vs. Long Term Benefits

One of the big factors in any roof replacement project is always price, but when you’re making your comparisons, be sure to look at the lifetime costs rather than just the number at the bottom of the quote. 

Let’s assume that replacing your roof with the cheapest asphalt shingle option will cost you $15,000, and the same replacement roof in metal roofing might cost $20,000. 

Even though you would save $5,000 upfront, your asphalt roof will probably only last 15 years, while current life expectancies put a Galvalume metal roof at 60 years.

When you calculate the cost per year for your replacement roof, the asphalt roof will cost you $1,000 per year of service, while the metal roof would cost $333. So, over the lifespan of your roof, the metal roof would actually be cheaper. 

It’s not just upfront costs that you need to consider, though. Different roofs also require different types and levels of maintenance to stay in good shape. So, when you’re weighing your options, be sure to ask what those maintenance requirements are and factor those costs into your calculations, too. 

Aesthetic Implications

The last thing on our roof replacement consideration list is aesthetics, and while this might be less of a factor for some people, for others, they might make or break the decision. 

The truth is different styles of home and architectural design preferences lend themselves more to one or another kind of roofing. 

If you have a very modern home, you might love the clean lines of standing seam metal roofing, but if you live in a classic craftsman-style home and you want to keep things traditional, wood shingles might be the only acceptable choice for you. Or you could look at specialty metal roofing products like Tilcor (pictured below) that mimic the look of shingles with all of the benefits of metal.

Tilcor 1-1

Take some time to look at photos of different kinds of roofing materials with different styles of home and focus on the ones that really look great on the type of home you have. Be sure to look at different materials in different colors and designs, too. You might be surprised at how much difference those little things can make. 

Replacing a roof is a big project and one that requires a lot of planning and research. But once you’ve narrowed down the roofing material that you want, some of the other tasks, like finding the right contractor, become a little easier.

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Learn everything you need to know about Residential Metal Roofing. Check out our metal roofing resources for inspiration and answers to your questions.

About McElroy Metal

Since 1963, McElroy Metal has served the construction industry with quality products and excellent customer service. The employee-owned components manufacturer is headquartered in Bossier City, La., and has 14 manufacturing facilities across the United States. Quality, service and performance have been the cornerstone of McElroy Metal’s business philosophy and have contributed to the success of the company through the years. As a preferred service provider, these values will continue to be at the forefront of McElroy Metal’s model along with a strong focus on the customer.

Topics: Roof Replacement

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