Photo by Keith Williamson, acquired via

Alternatives to Asphalt Shingles

Posted July 16th, 2014 under renovations and repairs.

When it comes time to re-shingle the roof, most of us automatically think of the cheapest and easiest option, asphalt shingles. However, there are many other materials that are worth considering.

For most roofing materials, the total price reflects the lifespan. In other words, the price-per-year is fairly similar across materials.

The question is more about how much you want to invest up-front. If you use a cheaper material, less of your money will be tied up in your roof. But, you'll be paying for labour more often because of the shorter lifespan.

For expensive materials, you get the opposite effect: less money spent on labour, but more money tied up from the start.

Metal Roofs

Metal roofs are among the most durable, but can be very expensive. A copper roof can last over 100 years!

Metal roofs can be installed as large sheets or as smaller shingle-like tiles. There are a variety of looks available, including metallic, baked-on colour, and various hammered, brushed, and textured looks.

Slate and Clay

These are natural materials and are extremely durable. However, they require a strong roof structure because they are very heavy. The cost of reinforcing a roof varies and for some homes it's not practical.

These are also the best materials for the environment.

Cedar Shakes

Cedar shakes have a rustic natural look, are light enough for any roof, and can last 50 years. However, they should not be used under trees, or their lifespan will be cut short. Installation requires a professional.

Plastic and Synthetics

Plastic look-alike shingles have been on the market for years and have proven themselves. They are much more durable and more expensive than asphalt, and come in a wide variety of styles and colours.

Other synthetic options, such as shingles incorporating recycled tires, have become available recently.

Making Your Choice

If you're planning on installing the shingles yourself, you should stick to asphalt, as all other materials require specialized installation.

Otherwise, start by figuring out your budget, and which materials and looks might interest you.

When you call installers for quotes, don't expect to get prices per square foot. The installer will give you a complete quote (labour and materials) specific to your home.

From here, you should have no trouble making your final decision.

Want to know more about roofing options? Just ask me, I'll be happy to help.


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