A Quick Guide to Roof Material Options

Posted by Brett McCutcheon on Jul 10, 2017 9:53:56 AM

Roof Material Options

For home and business owners, replacing a roof is never high on the “fun project” list. It’s the type of project that is never done proactively and becomes a necessity, often unexpectedly, when a new leak or weakness is discovered. John F. Kennedy once wisely said, “the time to replace the roof is when the sun is shining.” If you’re thinking your roof might be due for replacement, do your homework in advance. Here is a quick guide to roofing options, including material, cost, difficulty to install, and life span.

Composite/Asphalt Shingle Roofing

This roofing option is very common due to its affordability. Shingles are primarily three-tabbed and made of fiberglass mat topped with asphalt and mineral granules. This is the lowest cost roofing material, but price varies by season because it’s made with petroleum and follows the market pricing as such. The average lifespan of an asphalt shingle roof is 12-17 years. These shingles are the easiest to install and can potentially be done by an experience do-it-yourselfer.

Asphalt shingles are easily repaired. They also come in a variety of colors and textures.  However, they can be damaged by temperature fluctuations, wind, and wet weather. They are also not an eco-friendly product and their manufacturing process is largely energy-inefficient.

Wood Shingles/Shake

This roofing group is made primarily of cedar wood. It is on the high end of the price range for roofing, but a shake roof can last 30-60 years, making it a long-term investment. Wood shingles are trickier to install that other materials because they are a natural material. This means they expand and contract based on season and require proper ventilation between tiles to prevent water damage.

Wood shingles are versatile, long-lasting, eco-friendly, and a renewable resource. They give a custom look that is far less common than asphalt. However, their benefits come at a premium and require specialized installation and extra maintenance.


While metal roofs were once associated with barns and farm structures, there are many residential applications now gaining popularity. Metal roofs are primarily made of steel, aluminum, some copper and alloys. These roofs are prices in the mid-range of the roofing materials market. They have a lifespan of 50-75 years, which can make the cost less overwhelming. They are lightweight and fairly simple to install, but do require an experienced professional.

Metal roofing provides increased energy efficiency. They are resistant to rain, snow, water, wind, fire, mildew, insects, and rot. They are also lightweight and require minimal maintenance. However, part of their higher prices tag comes from the installation requiring a special fastening system to reduce damage from expansion and contraction. Repairs can be more difficult and they are susceptible to dents, fading paint, and chips. While there are concerns that it might be a “loud” material, there are sheathing choices that can eliminate this as a concern.


Tile roofing is often associated with warm, exotic locations like Spain and Greece. They have a very distinguished look. These tiles are primarily made of clay and concrete. This is the most expensive roofing option, but they will last over 50 years. These tiles absolutely require professional installation.

Clay tiles offer a distinct, classy style and a very long lifespan. They are also weather, fire, rot, and insect resistant. However, along with their higher cost, they are very heavy and require additional support built underneath as well as extreme care installation. The underlayment will also need replaced several times in the life of the tile, approximately every 20 years.

Other Roof Options

While there haven’t been many break throughs in roofing material innovation in a while, there are two new options that are heading for the market. The first is a rubber composite shingle that can mimic a clay or wood tile, is made of recycled materials, and has a greater longevity over asphalt. The other are solar tiles made of tempered glass that can mimic asphalt, wood, and tile roofs. They have an “infinite” warranty and will gather solar energy for you to use in lieu of traditional resources. Their installation will be complex, but could revolutionize the future of home energy.

Install with Care and Quality

Regardless of the type of material you choose for your roof, FASCO America® offers tools and fasteners that can help install it. We offer specialty installation tools for both tile and metal roofs. Our SCRAIL® fasteners can be used in combination with our full line of pneumatic tools to cut your installation time drastically. Using our products with mindful installation can increase the longevity of your roof, regardless of material.

Video: Metal Roof SCRAIL Install

Topics: Metal Roofing Fasteners, RoofLoc® SCRAIL®, RoofLoc®, Roofing, Roofs


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SCRAIL®, Fast like a Nail, Strong like a Screw, are incredibly versatile collated fasteners that can be driven with a pneumatic nailer at a rate twice as fast as collated screws and eight times faster than bulk screws. You can rely upon SCRAIL® fasteners to hold strong, without callbacks to fix a squeak or a nail pop.

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