Modern House with Multiple Roof Lines

Roofs can last for decades, but they eventually need replacing. Asphalt shingle roofs are the most common because they’re affordable and durable, but the best type of roof depends on your home, location, and preference. This guide breaks down different types of roofs, their pros and cons, and their average costs.*

*Cost figures averaged from 2022 reports from multiple sources, including First American Roofing and Roofing Calculator.



What Are the Different Types of Roofs?

Here are the most common types of roofs:

  • Built-up roofing (BUR)
  • Clay tiles
  • Concrete roofing
  • Green roofing
  • Metal roofing
  • Rolled roofing
  • Shingles
  • Slate roofing
  • Solar roofing
  • Wood roofing 

Built-Up Roofing (BUR)

If your home has a flat roof or you want to replace your existing roof with a flat one, consider a built-up roof (BUR). This roof is made from multiple layers of asphalt, ply sheets, and other materials “built up” on top of each other. 

A BUR is highly fire-resistant due to the aggregate layer it uses. It is waterproof and protects your home from ultraviolet (UV) damage. Unfortunately, this roof type has a short life span of 15 to 30 years. 

The average cost of a BUR is $3.50 to $5 per square foot.

Clay Tiles

Clay tile roofs, also known as terracotta roofs, are one of the oldest roofing materials. They’re made of natural and highly durable materials that are eco-friendly and last 50 to 100 years. Clay tile roofs are also fire-resistant and have excellent thermal properties, making them a great option for homeowners in hotter climates or areas with wildfires.

Check with a structural engineer if you’re considering this roof type. They weigh five to ten pounds per square foot and may require additional structural support before installation. The other downside of clay tile roofing is its expensive price point of $6 to $15 per square foot

Concrete Roofing

Concrete roofs have long, 50-year life spans. They also have excellent thermal properties, reducing your electricity bills and increasing your home’s energy efficiency.

Check with a structural engineer before installing a concrete roof, as additional support might be needed for its heavy weight. Concrete tile roofs cost an average of $5 to $9 per square foot.

Green Roofing

Green roofs are a relatively new type of roof. They combine vegetation, such as grasses or native flowers, on top of a waterproofing membrane. This creates a unique look and provides various benefits, such as absorbing environmental pollutants before they enter your home, improving energy efficiency, reducing utility costs, and decreasing noise.

The main downsides of green roofs are that they’re more susceptible to water damage, and they have a high price tag of $10 to $28 per square foot. A green roof also might need additional support due to its heavy weight.

Metal Roofing

There are two types of metal roofs: shingles and sheets. These options differ mainly in appearance, and both use materials such as aluminum and zinc, which are affordable, accessible, durable, and low-maintenance. You should choose metal sheets if you live in a warmer climate, as the metal expands as temperatures heat up. Metal shingles are a better option to preserve curb appeal because they’re more customizable and replicate the appearance of standard roof shingles.

Metal roofs increase your home’s energy efficiency and have an average life span of 30 to 80 years. These roofs often require more soundproofing and specialized labor to install and repair, making them more expensive than other roof types.

Metal roofing costs around $9 to $15 per square foot

Rolled Roofing

Rolled roofing is a mineral-surfaced material that comes in rolls. It’s often used on low-sloped roofs, as it’s easy to install.

Rolled roofs are one of the most affordable types of roofing, costing $5 to $7 per square foot. They also require minimal labor. However, these roofs only last five to ten years, and you can’t install one on a flat roof because it may cause water leaks. 


Shingle roofs are the most popular roofing material because they’re affordable and high-performing. Asphalt shingles cost $2 to $6 per square foot, are easy to install, and last roughly 30 years. You can get shingles made of other materials, such as fiberglass or mineral composite, which are similarly priced.

Shingle roofs work well in most climates. However, their color fades quickly from sun exposure. The three-tab style is also more prone to wind damage than other shingle styles, such as architectural or laminate shingles, which use more layers of materials.

Slate Roofing

Slate roofs are one of the most durable types, lasting 50 to 200 years. They’re also fireproof and resistant to wind, hail, flying debris, and extreme temperature changes. 

Slate tiles are made of natural slate or quarried alternatives such as fiber cement slate. Synthetic slate roofs are more affordable and have similar benefits as natural slate. You’ll want a specialist to handle the installation, as slate is fragile and easily damaged.

Slate roofs cost $8 to $19 per square foot. Synthetic slate roofs cost $6 to $14 per square foot.

Solar Roofing

Solar roofs use solar panels designed to look like traditional roofing materials, allowing you to power your home with solar energy without sacrificing style. Solar roofs last up to 30 years and are durable, withstanding general debris and weather conditions

You’ll need to hire a roofing contractor specializing in solar roofing who has the proper licensing. Solar roofing is an expensive investment at $17 to $25 per square foot. However, this option can increase your home’s value and provide significant energy savings over time.

Wood Roofing 

Consider a wood roof if you own a cabin or cottage and want extra curb appeal. Wood roofs come in two styles: shingles and shakes. Wood shingles are thinner and are created by a machine that saws both sides. A wood shake is hand-split on only one side. Shakes are a better option in certain weather conditions, such as high winds. You’ll need to ensure the wood has been treated if you live in a fire-prone area.

Wood shingles and shakes can be made from spruce, redwood, cedar, pine, and other coniferous trees. Wood roofs cost $7 to $10 per square foot.



Contact a Professional

A professional roofer can recommend the best roofing for your specific home and climate. For example, a slate roof might be best in an area with heavy storms or frequent fires, while an asphalt shingle roof might be best if you live in a mild climate.

Regardless of the type you choose, all roof replacements should be performed by professionals. Roofing companies know how to handle roofing materials and have access to necessary tools and equipment, such as scaffolding. Certain roofs, such as solar or metal roofs, may require a specialist. Some roof types must also be installed by approved contractors to maintain the product warranty.

Use our tool below to find professional roofing companies near you.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Best Types of Roofs



When to Consider a Broader Home Inspection

When purchasing or selling a home, it is critical to complete a thorough inspection to understand the property’s condition. A standard home inspection includes an assessment of a home’s systems and physical structure. After the process, the inspector will provide a report detailing their findings and recommendations.

If you are considering buying a home or putting your home on the market, we strongly recommend finding an ASHI home inspector in your area.