March 10, 2023

Best Roofing Materials And What Will They Cost.

What is the best roofing material for my house? How much will my roof replacement cost?

These are the questions most homeowners are asking when it’s time to replace the old roof on their home. Let’s look at the most popular options and how they compare to each other. We will also provide links to the products we trust for our projects.


Asphalt Shingles

Most homes in the last 80 years were designed and built to have asphalt shingles as their roofing material. Asphalt shingles are the most popular choice for residential homes because of cost and ease. 

All roofing products need maintenance and asphalt shingles are basically maintenance free. They do have an expected life of 20-30 years depending on the quality of the material. Some shingles are made thick enough to last 50 years but they come at a serious premium. 

The modern choice of asphalt shingles is the architectural shingle. The design of the shingle changed the biggest weakness of the shingle into a great strength. The average wind rating of an architectural shingle is 110 mph compared to 60 mph of an old 3 tab shingle. 

There is a simple reason shingles are the most commonly used roofing product. The cost to replace a roof with a new shingle roof is the lowest cost option and will last 20 years easily which is more time than most homeowners need out of a new roof. 

CertainTeed manufactures industry leading asphalt shingles.

Metal Over Old Shingles – Exposed Fastener 

A trend that is really taking off is putting a metal roof over an old shingle roof. This is called an exposed fastener metal roof. It’s called exposed fastener because the screws used to hold down the metal are visible to both your view and to the element’s fury. 

This is a trend that currently makes up about 20 percent of the roofing market for residential homes. It’s so popular because it’s much cheaper than a standing seam metal roof and people associate metal as a long lasting roofing material. While it does cost less than a standing seam metal roof it is still more expensive than an asphalt shingle.

Exposed fastener metal roofs do not belong on residential homes. The panels are agricultural roofing materials that have been adapted to use on a residential property. The biggest flaw with this roofing system is the exposed fastener. They leak. Yes all metal roofs that have exposed fasteners leak, it’s just a question of where and how much. 

Varner Roofing will not install an exposed fastener roof on a residential property. The reason is there is not a single manufacturer that will issue a weather-tight warranty on an exposed fastener roofing system. While they will sell the product they will not guarantee it to not let water into your home. As a roofing company our job is to keep water out of your house. It would be irresponsible of us to install a product that we know will leak and would have no backing from the manufacturer if and when it happens.


Standing Seam Metal 

Metal is a great roofing material and with the new Kynar painting systems a fairly maintenance free 50 year roof is truly a possibility. I know of an old farm house just down the road from my house that has a roof that is over 100 years old and is in excellent structural condition. The secret is the owner paints and maintains his roof every 8 years. 

Metal’s strength as a roofing material is the durability of the metal itself. The weakness is the coating system that keeps rust from occurring. Most factory applied paints come with a 30 – 50 year warranty. Before the paints wear out it should be repainted to protect your investment. Also all areas of the roof that require caulk should be checked and touched up every ten years. While the metal is a long lasting great roofing system they do require regular maintenance. 

Standing Seam is also much more expensive than an asphalt roofing system. The primary contributing factor is the labor involved in the install. As a general rule everything about a standing seam metal roof is about 3 times as much as an asphalt roof. 

Why install a standing seam metal roof then? If you are willing to care for the maintenance the roof will outlast you and provide protection of your home to future generations. It’s a long term financial choice. 

McElroy Metal is a national manufacturer of quality metal roofing products.

Metal Shingles

Metal shingles have become a strong alternative to asphalt shingles. Metal shingles have a more robust appearance than an asphalt shingle but retain the architectural design of the home. They also are significantly longer lasting than most asphalt shingles on the market today. The cost is about double of an asphalt roof replacement but financially they make more sense than any other alternative available. The labor is much slower and the materials are more expensive which is why the costs are higher.

 Tilcor stone coated metal shingles have a 50 year non prorated warranty. This manufacturer does allow for the product to be installed on top of an old shingle roof but we do not recommend this process. The reason to always remove old roofing materials prior to the installation of a new roof is to ensure the wood roof deck is in great condition and will support the new roof for the life of the roof. If you install a new roof over damaged plywood the screws or nails can simply pull out with expansion and contraction and you are wasting the investment made. 

The cost of a stone coated metal shingle is about 2 times higher than an asphalt roof replacement.

Take a look at Tilcor’s stone coated metal shingles.

Synthetic Roofs – Historical Alternatives

Synthetic Slate 

Natural Slate Roofing is most likely the longest lasting roofing material that has ever existed. Homes in Europe with slate regularly have those roofs in service for 200-300 years. Slate does require some maintenance but it’s not significant. 

The issue with slate is its extreme cost to install and the structural supports needed. Homes that have natural slate roofs require stronger building materials than how modern homes are built.  

Synthetic Slate is a great option for a historical restoration or a modern home that desires an incredible curb appeal update. Most historic districts have approved synthetic slate and shake tiles from quality manufacturers. The cost is significantly less than natural slate and the weight is comparable to other modern building materials so they can be put on structures where a natural slate tile would be a cause of concern.

The longevity of synthetic slate is also great. Most of the products come with a 50 year warranty and life expectancy. They are on the higher end of the price range but with the aesthetic advantage they may be well worth the cost to you. 

The cost of a synthetic slate roof is 4 to 5 times the cost of an asphalt roof replacement.

DaVinci makes one of our favorite synthetic slate tiles.

Synthetic Shake

Natural shake roofing materials are currently available but with a short life expectancy they are not really worth the high cost. Synthetic shake roofs are replacing most natural shake roofs in historic districts. They have a 50 year life expectancy and warranty and retain their looks for the entirety of the roof lifespan unlike natural shake that starts to bend, curve and grow moss fairly quickly. If you have a shake roof in a historic home you may want to consider a synthetic shake roof for your next install. 

DaVinci also makes an impressive synthetic shake tile.

Synthetic Rubber Shingles

 This is a new product on the market. Granular loss is the primary reason asphalt shingles age and expire. This is caused by the asphalt which is the water proofing and binding agent in the shingle becoming brittle and washing away. Asphalt becomes brittle in shingles because it degrades as the UV rays from the sun beats down on it daily. Rubber is more resilient to UV rays than asphalt and rubber shingles do not have granules like an asphalt shingle so the shingle stays together better. While it is a new product the preliminary testing shows a longer more stable aging process and has shown great fade resistance which would keep a rubber shingle looking fresher for a longer period of time compared to an asphalt shingle.

The cost is higher than an asphalt shingle roof due to material costs, but it is still comparable because the install process is almost identical. This cost is about fifty percent higher than an asphalt shingle roof replacement.

F-Wave makes a very nice synthetic rubber shingle.


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