A close up of a roof with shingles chosen to accommodate the shape

Roofing Shapes: The Best Materials

If you’re planning on re-roofing your home, or putting roofing materials on a new home for the first time, you’ve probably already considered your options (tile, shingles, metal, etc). Much of the choice will come down to cost and looks, but the shape and style of your roof should also affect your decision making. Take a look at these materials that you can use and decide which one would work best for your roof.

Asphalt or Composition Shingles 

These are the most common roofing materials, making up nearly 80% of the residential roofing market. They are cheap, as well as easy to install and replace. Due to their simplicity, they can be used on almost any roof. For a flat roof, however, algae-resistant shingles will work better, as they will not degrade with the extended exposure to water that can happen with flat roofs.

Wood Shingles and Shakes

Another popular method of roofing involves shakes or wooden shingles. These are less durable and slightly more expensive than regular shingles, but they provide an aesthetic that is hard to match. These can be used on any home with a moderate to steep slope. Again, avoid flat roofs for these to prevent algae buildup or other water damage.

Plastic Polymer

Often made to look like wooden shingles, these synthetic shingles can be recycled when replaced. They last a long time, are easily replaced, and can be used on most all houses. Moderate to steep slopes are ideal, however.

Metal Roofs

Of all the options for roofing your home, metal costs the most to install (aside from solar shingles) and last the longest. It’s lightweight and absorbs over a third less heat than asphalt shingles. Low to steep slopes work well for metal roofs, but they can also be installed on flat roofs.

Clay or Terracotta Tiles 

This rustic-looking option is another expensive one. It's not quite as expensive as metal roofs, but also not nearly as durable. The individual tiles are brittle, but the roofing itself is quite low-maintenance. It is best used with moderate or steeper sloped roofs.

Concrete Tile

Tiles of concrete, when used for roofing, provide a good balance of cost and durability. They are heavy, however, so some added support might be needed (which would increase the price a bit). Concrete tiles are commonly used on slopes that are steep to moderate.

Slate Roofs

The final option listed here is one of the oldest methods for roofing. Slate roofs are durable, heavy, and require specially trained individuals to install. They should only be installed on roofs with steep slopes.

Last Updated: November 20, 2014