This just might boggle your mind. 30 years ago you just had to choose between asphalt, wood or clay (ceramic) tile roofing shingles. Most people opted for asphalt. From there it was choose a color scheme.
These days, it isn’t so easy. There are so many different types of roofing shingles that it’s mind-boggling.
With this article, we set out the many types you can choose from and in most cases include a photo or two so you can get an idea of what it looks like.
Just like MyRoofingPal there are many types of roof styles, there are just as many, if not more types of roof shingles, which is made up of a material consisting of individual overlapping components, typically flat or wavy and rectangular in shape. These individual components are laid in sequences often from the lower end of the roof up. Each continuous sequence generally overlaps the joints below them.
This article discusses the different types of shingles as well as discusses metal roof and how a metal roof compares to shingles. We also provide plenty of roof shingle pictures to give you an idea as to how these different roofing options look… you’ll notice many of our images are close-ups.
Table of Contents
Roof Shingle Lifespan Chart
Types of Residential Roofing Shingles
There are different types of shingles available for use in roofing. These shingles differ from one type to the other and it is important to consider the pros and cons of each type to guide your selection of the type that’s most suited for your roofing design.
1. Asphalt shingles
Three asphalt shingle styles:
Source: Home Depot
b. Architectural Shingle
Source: Home Depot
c. Hip and Ridge
Source: Home Depot
These are the most widely used type of shingles among homeowners. They combine versatility in design, low cost pricing and ease of installation making them a go to roofing option to many.
Pros and cons of asphalt shingles
- As the most common and popular roofing option, it is fairly easy to find a roofer who can make repairs.
- They are very easy to install and remove, decreasing the amount of time that you will have people working on your roof.
- These can be installed on top of themselves in some circumstances, further speeding up the process of roof installation.
- Will help to deflect UV rays, cooling your home and keeping the roof from damage.
- Only last for about twenty years, depending on weather, before they will need to be replaced.
- Bad hail or high winds can easily damage the granules and shingles, resulting in the need for repair.
- Any impact from trees, heavy limbs, or large hail can break the shingles and this can easily cause a leak.
Asphalt shingles are fairly inexpensive. They cost between $80 and $100 per square (100 sq. ft.), and a professional installation fee of $1,700 – $8,400. When coated, these architectural roofing shingles can meet the standards for a cool roof as set out by the Energy Star, and this can earn you a rebate. They however need to be used in fairly temperate climates that do not experience very extreme weather changes. Compared to the more premium roofing materials like cedar shakes, metal, slate and clay tiles, asphalt shingles tend to be less durable with a relatively short life span of 20 to 30 years.
There are different types of asphalt roof shingles: 3-tab shingles, fiberglass and organic shingles. On average, 3-tab asphalt shingles cost between $2,300 – $5,300 to install, which is fairly inexpensive. They have cutouts that run along their bottom edge. These gives one shingle the look of three different shingles when they are installed.
Fiberglass asphalt shingles cost slightly more than 3-tab asphalt shingles to install, at $3,800 – $8,000. They are made from a base mat of fiberglass and are layered with some waterproof coating. Fiberglass shingles are fire resistant, resistant to and UV rays, lightweight and durable, with a longer warranty compared to other forms of asphalt shingles.
Organic asphalt shingles on the other hand are made from wood chips, felt, recycled cardboard or paper soaked in asphalt. The asphalt-soaked organic material is then coated with an additional thick layer of asphalt followed by another layer of ceramic granules. This way the organic asphalt shingle is waterproof and can quite well endure various elements of weather.
Though they are not as long lasting as fiberglass, organic asphalt shingles are inexpensive and preferred by many builders for their aesthetic features.
2. Metal Roofing
Because metal roofs actually come in shingles now, we include the 3 main types of metal roofs in our grand total of 15 types of roofing shingles.
Metals are quite a strong and enduring roofing option. They are often the better roofing option for rooflines that are flat or steep. They can also be quite affordable depending on the type of metal used. Average costs of roofing metals range from $100 to $1,000 depending on the metal type. Installation fees will equally depend on the roofing design and cost anywhere between $2,000 and $15,000.
Pros and cons of metal roofing
- These roofs are very durable and are built to withstand the hot sun, damaging winds, and even hail storms. Unless a large branch or tree is able to stab into the roof, they are almost impossible to damage.
- These roofs will last for about 50 years before they need to be replaced.
- The seams are all raised above the roof, making this a strong option that is not prone to leaking.
- It can be difficult to find a roofer that is able to install a metal roof as many aren’t comfortable with the work.
- They cost more than asphalt roofs, making them difficult for some homeowners to afford.
- It’s impossible to layer a metal roof on top of any other roof style so all previous materials will need to be completely removed. This increases the cost of installation.
- Your roof has to have a certain rise to be able to support a metal roof.
Metal roofing can last up to 50 or more years if well taken care of. Though infrequent, metal roofs will also require repairs in case of loose nails, rust patches, leaks or holes, and curled-up seams and/or edges.
Different types of roof shingles may offer different value for your home. However, depending on your location, some shingles types may be more suitable than others. Be sure to consult with your roofing contractor to determine which type of shingles will work best for your roofing design and home in general.
3 Main Types of Metal Roofs
The big decision you must make when installing a metal roof is what type of metal roof you will get. There are 3 main types:
- Standing Seam Panels: This is the best type, but also most expensive. The reason this is best is because there are no exposed fasteners on the roof. Fasteners are the weak spots and when a metal roof goes, it’s because of rusting or weakness in and around the fasteners. Here’s a diagram illustrating several types of standing seam roofs:
- Metal roofs in traditional shake, shingle, tile and slate design: These days, you can get metal roofs to mimic the look of shakes, shingles, tile and slate shingles (called metal shake systems). While that’s pretty cool, the standing seam is still the best option.
- Sheet roofing: Less expensive option that can come painted or not painted. The various panel types of sheet roofing include:CF Panel
- AP Panel
- Corrugated: this is the less expensive variety used on barns and sheds. This is not the type you’d get for your home.
Read this excellent article that explains the differences of these types of metal roofs and includes diagrams.
Metal Roof Materials
Since metal roofs are growing in popularity, there are several types of materials used for metal roofs. They include:
- Stainless steel
- Zinc alloys
Metal roof styles
These days, you can order a metal roof style to match any architectural style of home.
See the pros and cons below under “what is the best type of roof for a house?”
3. Wood shingles
Most homeowners find wood shingles more appealing than the other types of shingles because they tend to look and feel natural. They are made from suitable hardwoods and cost more than asphalt. Their prices range between $400 and $700 on average.
Pros and cons of wood shingles
- Wood roofs are very easy to install and to repair, making it so any work that you have to have done on your roof won’t be terribly expensive.
- These roofs tend to last for a very long time with the right maintenance. It’s not unheard of for them to last up to 60 years before homeowners have to have them replaced.
- Once your roof needs to be replaced, the old shingles or shakes can be recycled into mulch or will simply rot down.
- To ensure that your roof lasts for as long as possible, you will have to spend a fair amount of time and money maintaining it.
- Part of maintaining your roof involves regular moss removal to keep the growth from damaging the wood and having your roof resealed every decade.
- If you need to have new shingles installed to repair an area of your roof, they will probably not match the rest of the shingles or shakes.
- Unfortunately, wood roofs are flammable even if they have been treated with chemicals to make them fire-resistant.
A natural wood shingles roof can cost anywhere from $6,800 to $20,000. This roofing option is however prone to fire. But you can get better fire protection by going instead for simulated wood shingles. These are made of recycled plastic or rubber and will cost you slightly higher at $12,600 – $18,900.
In exchange for the additional charge, you can enjoy better value with these shingles lasting a minimum of 30 years and can hit 50 years if well installed.
FYI, one roof style I like that looks great with wood shingles is the classic gambrel roof. However, if getting a new home and you don’t mind not being so authentic, you can incorporate metal tiles to mimic the classic wood look… it won’t be perfect, but you do gain the benefits of a metal roof.
Types of wood used for wood shingles
There are 4 main types of wood used. They are:
- California redwood
- Western Red cedar
- Atlantic white cedar
- Pine (mostly in Europe)
However, as you’ll note above in the tile section and below in the metal roof section, you can get wood tile roofs that really look similar to wood shingles. Seriously, watch the composite tile video above; you’ll be amazed how much they can look like real wood shingles.
4. Tile shingles
These are some of the most expensive shingles with prices ranging from $300 to $700 on average. They are not only costly to buy but to install as well. Tile installation fees fall between $10,000 and $14,000. This price may significantly rise and cost anywhere from $17,000 to $60,000 in case of customizations.
Tile shingles are however worth the cost as they are some of the most durable of all shingles and will typically last for up to 80 years or more. They are also fairly easy to replace in case of damage.
So while you’ll feel the burden of installing a tiled roof at the beginning, this roofing material becomes a worthy lifelong investment. You can incur less recurrent costs as there will likely be few repairs needed so you can save more in the long run.
While the red ceramic tiles are well known, there are actually 7 different types of tile shingles. They are:
a. Ceramic tyles
b. Metal Tiles
c. Concrete Tiles
d. Bituminous Tile
e. Polymer-Sand Tile Roof
This type of roof is sand bound with a polymer.
f. Copper Tile Roof
g. Composite Tile
5. Slate shingles
These are shingles made from a certain type of stone naturally pulled from the earth and worked into shingles. Slate shingles are waterproof, fireproof and incredibly durable. They can last for up to 50 years.
Pros and cons of slate shinges
- When cared for properly, slate roofs will last for a long time. They are so durable that it is not unheard of for them to last up to 150 years.
- Because they are made of natural stone, these roofs are very attractive. Homeowners love the natural color variations.
- This is a very environmentally-friendly roof. There is no pollution during the manufacturing and they can even be recycled if the homeowner decides that he or she wants a different style roof.
- Slate does a great job at keeping the home a consistent temperature, which will lower monthly heating and cooling bills.
- Unfortunately, this roof is very expensive to have installed, making it out of reach and budget for some homeowners.
- Slate roofs are very heavy and most homes are not strong enough to support this weight. Many homes have to be reinforced with a stronger roof deck to be able to have a slate roof installed.
- While these roofs will usually last for a long time, if part does break, it can be very hard to find a tile that will fit because the natural stone can vary so much.
- Not all roofers have experience installing or working on slate tiles, which involves understanding their thickness and how to correctly install them.
These architectural shingles are a popular roofing material in the Northeastern part of the US since the material is quarried there. With their strength, slate shingles experience few leaks even at old age. Roofs covered in slate shingles tend to retain the original shingles through their lifetime.
They, however, tend to be costly and less affordable for builders on budget, with average costs ranging from $200 to $650. A slate shingles roof will cost between $5,000 and $23,000 to install. You can still get the same appearance more affordably by going for synthetic slate shingles, slightly expense of durability.
6. Rubber Roofing
7. Architectural Shingles
Also known as laminate shingles or dimensional shingles, this option is often designed to resemble cedar or slate. This means that you can enjoy a different appearance on your roof while still appreciating the durability and reliability of asphalt shingles.
Pros and cons of architectural shingles
- They bring more interest and texture to a roof, which will increase curb appeal.
- Due to the layers of shingles, the roof will appear more substantial than one made with a single layer of shingles and these roofs are a great way to hide any imperfections in the boards of the roof.
- They are less likely to crack and curl due to the heat and time.
- These shingles will generally last a lot longer than asphalt shingles do and it’s not unheard of for these roofs to last up to 30 years.
- They cost substantially more than asphalt shingles do and weigh more so homeowners have to make sure that their houses can support the extra weight.
- While they can stand up to the sun better than asphalt shingles, they are still impacted by hail and other bad weather in the same way.
8. Copper Shingles
This type of roof is often found on historic buildings or on homes that homeowners want to make to look older than they actually are. Because it can last for hundreds of years, it can be a great option.
Pros and cons of copper roof
- This is the long-lasting roof available on the market. It’s not unheard of for them to last hundreds of years.
- Copper roofs are extremely light and available in a number of styles, allowing homeowners to customize the look of their homes.
- This type of roof requires hardly any maintenance and will continue to look amazing.
- They will patina over time, creating a beautiful finish on your roof, depending on where you live. Fully patina-ed roofs will add a lot of beauty and value to the home.
- Unfortunately, copper roofs are very expensive and are often outside of the budget for the average homeowner.
- It can be difficult to find large enough quantities of copper to cover extremely large roofs and getting the right roofer that feels comfortable with this material is often just as difficult.
- Copper roofs do not patina evenly or quickly and can appear streaky and uneven for the first few years that you have it installed on your home, which can actually lower curb appeal for a short while.
- Because the roofer you hire will likely be a specialist and one of the few in your area that will work with copper, you will probably have to pay a large fee for them to install your new roof.
9. Grass (Green) Roof
I think a green roof is a great idea especially if you live in a place where the climate fosters such a roof (i.e. gets sufficient rain). Here are the pros and cons of a grass roof.
Pros and cons of a grass roof
- These often include other plants, such as flowers, herbs, and bushes, creating a unique and beautiful roof that will improve the appearance of your property.
- Grass – or green – roofs help keep the home very comfortable during extreme shifts in the weather. Instead of worrying about your home being cold during the winter and hot during the summer, this roof acts as a natural insulator.
- Because they offer natural insulation, you will spend less to heat and cool your home during the year.
- While there is no roof that can completely soundproof your home, grass roofs do the best job at keeping out noise from the environment.
- This is a great way to have a garden even if you do not have a very large piece of property.
- Having so many plants right at your home will improve the air quality.
- Grass roofs take a lot of time and effort to ensure that they continue to look their best. Just as with a regular garden, you have to make sure that you are constantly watering your roof.
- There’s a fine line between not enough water and too much and you don’t want to cause water damage to your roof by accident.
- These roofs can be very expensive to install as they need a special foundation, the right soil, and then the plants themselves.
Frequently Asked Questions
Below are answers to frequently asked questions about roof shingles.
What is the best type of roof for a house?
If you can afford it, a metal roof is best for the following reasons (benefits set out by State Farm insurance):
- Durable: this roofing material can 50 years or longer. They are also capable of withstanding inclement weather, especially high winds.
- Customizable: you can get metal roofs that fit in with pretty much any architectural style of home. Moreover, you can get many colors too, which is cool.
- Not flammable: They are not flammable unlike wood shingles.
- Save money on cooling costs: Because they reflect the sun, they reduce home cooling costs which is a big plus in hot climates.
- Recyclable: Not only are metal roofs made of recycled materials, but when replaced, they are 100 percent recyclable.
While metal roofs have many benefits, they are not cheap costing up to 3 times the amount of shingles. Moreover, they ain’t quiet in the rain (ping, ping ping).
Who invented modern-day roof shingles? When?
Before roof shingles were invented, roofers would usually cover the roof with a durable fabric or heavy paper and coat it with tar for protection. Then they would sprinkle the tar with sand to make it last longer. And eventually, roofing manufacturers began making pre-made rolls of paper with tar and sand already applied.
Henry Reynolds holds the dubious honor of inventing roof shingles. He was a roofer who, in 1903, came up with the idea of cutting the rolls of treated tar and sand into smaller pieces. The first shingles were hand-cut and smaller than the ones that we see today.
What materials are used to make different types of roof shingles?
There are a few different materials that are effectively used for shingles.
- Asphalt is the most common type of material. Standard shingles made with asphalt can be either conventional 3-tab roof shingles or more decorative architectural shingles.
- Metal is also used as for roofs. Typically, coated steel, stainless steel, or aluminum roofs are usually seen on commercial properties, although you will see copper, zinc alloys, or other metals used for homes.
- Tile or terracotta clay shingles are also commonly used, more often in warmer climates because they absorb less heat than asphalt.
- Wood shingles and wood shakes are also used on many homes. Commonly made of cedar, they’re great insulators and the wood grain can add a distinctive flair to a rooftop.
- Slate is also used to make shingles. Made out of thin slats of stone, slate is extremely durable. It’s also fireproof. And it’s eco-friendly since there’s no manufacturing process needed to produce it.
- Concrete can also be used as a roofing material. It’s very durable, but is extremely heavy.
- Composite shingles are also available. They’re synthetically manufactured to look like just about any roof material.
- Rubber is even used for roofs. Typically manufactured to look like asphalt, slate. or tile, rubber is attractive and very resistant to adverse weather.
- Solar roof shingles are also becoming more popular. Not only will they reduce your utility bills, but they’ll also help you reduce your carbon footprint on the planet by not using other natural resources for energy.
Can roof shingles be recycled?
Just about all of the materials used in roof shingles can be recycled. Asphalt can always be ground up and used again. Metal roofs can be melted and reused. Tile, slate, concrete, composite, and rubber roof shingles are all non-toxic and can be recycled. Even the glass and wires used in solar roofing is recyclable.
Wood roof shingles are where you will need to be careful. If they’ve been treated with chemicals, they cannot be recycled or even burned. If the wood can’t be reused, it will often end up in a landfill.
How long do roof shingles last?
That depends on the type of material they’re made of, how well they were installed, and how much of a beating they take from Mother Nature.
- Composite shingles will last about 20 years.
- Asphalt can last from 20 to 50 years, depending on its quality.
- Rubber roofing materials will last about 30 years.
- Wood will last 30 to 40 years.
- You should get about 50 years out of metal roofs.
- Tile and concrete shingles can last 100 years or longer.
- Slate is the most durable, lasting 125 years to practically forever under the right circumstances.
- Solar roofing will have a warranty up to 25 years, but their true longevity has yet to be discovered.
Are roof shingles waterproof?
Without a doubt, they are designed to be waterproof. Shingles are also installed with a second waterproof barrier between them and the roof’s frame. Typically, tar paper or roofing felt will offer the most effective protection under the shingles.
Can you paint roof shingles?
Technically you can paint anything, right? But it’s not always the best idea to paint some things. Roof shingles would probably fall into that category.
They’re designed to take a lot of abuse. And the final finish is incorporated into that design. The idea is for them to maintain both their integrity and their beauty throughout their lifespan.
Painting a roof either because it’s fading in places or just to change the color can be done. But a painted surface won’t be able to withstand the weather extremes for very long.
Are roof shingles slippery when wet?
Not only are they slippery when wet, but most of them are on a slant, making them even slicker. You should always be wearing the right shoes or boots when walking on a rooftop, and if possible you should avoid being on a wet roof unless you have the right safety precautions in place.
Are roof shingles nailed down?
Each type of shingle would be secured in its own way. Asphalt, composite, wood, tile, rubber, and metal shingles would be nailed down. But there is a certain way to drive the nails for each material. Concrete and solar shingles would use their own specific types of adhesives. And, slate uses nails for support, instead of being nailed down.
Can roof shingles be reused?
Most old roofs are replaced because they have reached their limits of endurance. But sometimes shingles can be reused, especially if a roof is being replaced for aesthetic reasons. If the shingles are still in good shape and waterproof, they can be reused to reconstruct a roof.
Can roof shingles be cleaned?
Not only can they be cleaned, but they should be cleaned on a regular basis. Most people have their gutters cleaned at least twice a year. And that’s the perfect time to take care of the roof as well.
Leaving wet leaves, twigs, and other debris on your roof shingles can cause a lot of problems, creating wet spots that can make the shingles begin to prematurely decompose. And those wet areas are ideal breeding grounds for insects and mold.
Can roof shingles be stained?
There are a few different things that can cause stains on a roof.
- Sometimes in areas where the air is overly humid, the moisture can cause some roofing materials to cling to dirt and other particles in the air, creating stains.
- Algae and moss are also common problems in some areas, leaving a variety of colored streaks.
- Mold and mildew will create stains.
- Tree limbs hanging over rooftops can also drop sap, causing unsightly streaks on roofs.
- Metal roofs can sometimes show stains caused by rust.
- Soot from fireplaces can collect on certain areas of the roof, causing dark stains.
Can roof shingles be pressure washed?
The most effective way to clean a roof is to have it professionally pressure washed, especially if you are trying to get rid of stains. While you can always rent your own power washer and attempt it yourself, it’s really in your best interests to have someone cleaning it that knows what they’re doing.
Not only are you thinking about your safety, but you are also protecting the structural performance of your roof. Too much pressure from a power washer can cause damage to some roof surfaces.
Some roofs can be successfully cleaned with a pressure washer, removing any stains and bringing them back to life. Unfortunately, some issues can’t be remedied by cleaning, meaning it would be time for new shingles.
Shingles vs. metal roof – what’s better?
Pros (shingles vs. metal roof)
When it comes to building a house; cost, curb appeal and quality are the three main factors everyone cares about. For many people the answer to this puzzle lies with a single word in the residential roofing industry: shingles.
Good quality shingles can be great insulators keeping your home properly insulated against extreme thermal changes. That means the right quality of shingles can help you save on the cost of air conditioning as the temperatures in your home are often well regulated requiring little or no extra regulation.
Roofing shingles also provide a rich selection of roofing design options to choose from. You can also pick a suitable color from the rich variety of roof shingles colors that will effectively add aesthetic appeal to your home.
Most importantly, shingles tend to cost less than other roofing materials such as metals. This means you can save quite a bit if you go with shingles for your roofing design. All you need is to know a bit about the shingle options available for your specific roofing needs and you can be sure to find an effective and affordable way to cover your house.
Cons (shingles vs. metal roof)
Some shingles such as asphalt may not measure up to metal roofing when it comes to durability and strength. This is the main disadvantage of using shingles as a roofing material.
Shingles also tend to be considerably vulnerable to extreme weather conditions. Extreme heating from the sun may cause shingles to age quickly. In addition, a good roofing design with shingles require a great deal of expertise and workmanship. Otherwise, the shingles can experience punctures or blow-offs.
Wrapping it up (Interesting Fact)
Choice is good and bad. We’re fortunate to have so many great roofing options, yet it’s difficult to make a decision sometimes when faced with so many options. Interesting tidbit I read lately is that Costco found that they increased sales when they carry fewer brands of a particular product line. What this illustrates is that we have a psychological tendency to prefer having to choose from fewer items than many even if logically we think more choice is better.
Graphics source: Skywalker Roofing