If you are considering a new roof, chances are your roof is at least 20 years old. Over the last few decades, a lot has changed in the roofing industry. New materials are available and old materials have been updated. With all the options available today, choosing the best material for a new roof can be tricky. Ultimately, there is no single best material for a new roof. Instead, the best material for your new roof is the material that has the right qualities for your needs.

Choosing the Best Material for a New Roof [infographic]

New Roofing Materials

Roofing materials have advanced a lot in the last few decades. Even the most traditional types of shingles have had some advances in how they are made or how they are installed. Roofing experts like those at Eagle Watch Roofing are always up to date on the latest trends and technologies. But as a homeowner, you may be surprised by what’s available today.

Many homeowners will automatically install the same roof they had before. While this isn’t a bad option, it isn’t necessarily the best option either. To pick a roofing material for your next roof, you will need to consider your options carefully. The best roof for you will be based on the cost, longevity, aesthetics, and many other qualities of your new roof. Choosing the best material for a new roof takes a little bit of research. But with a home improvement project that often costs thousands of dollars, it is worth learning about all of your options before making a decision.

Improvements to Asphalt Shingles

The most common roofing material on homes in the United States is asphalt shingle. Asphalt shingle was introduced in the early twentieth century. Since then, it has undergone several upgrades. Since at least the middle of the twentieth century, asphalt shingle has been the most popular choice for new homes. Its low cost and ease of installation are its most appealing qualities. It is also more fire retardant than older natural materials, especially wooden shingles. It also tends to stand up to moss and algae better than wooden shingles, though not as well as some other roofing materials.

If you are replacing an asphalt shingle roof, your first instinct might be to replace it with another asphalt shingle roof. But that may not be the best choice. Traditional asphalt shingle roofing is still the cheapest option. So if your main concern is cost, it may be the right choice for you. But the cost savings may be greater in the near term than in the long run. Asphalt shingle roofs do not last as long as other roofs, so you will end up replacing your roof 10 or 20 years earlier than some other materials. And while many people have become very familiar with the look of traditional asphalt shingle, there are other more aesthetically appealing options.

Architectural Shingle

The biggest change in asphalt roofing has been the introduction of architectural asphalt shingles. Architectural shingles, sometimes called dimensional shingles, are made of asphalt. But unlike traditional three tab asphalt shingles (the type you’ll see on most suburban homes), they are neither flat nor consistently shaped. Instead, they are built up in layers to produce a shingle that has depth and variety. Visually, this can produce a more natural looking roof, reminiscent of traditional materials like wood shake or slate.

The added layers of architectural shingle also make it more durable. A regular three tab shingle roof may last 20 years. An architectural shingle roof can last up to 50 years or more if well maintained. It is more expensive to install than the older three tab shingle, but it may save money in the long run.

Natural Materials

If you want a traditional look for your new roof, natural materials are always an option. There is a great variety in natural roofing materials, and they have some very different qualities and considerations. Some of the most common natural materials in use today are cedar or wood shake, slate shingles, and clay tiles.

Wooden Roofs

Cedar shake is a classic roofing material with a long history. They are great for traditional styled homes looking for a natural appearance. Of course, as an organic material, cedar and wood shake has many vulnerabilities. First, it is flammable. In fact, many neighborhoods, cities, and counties have ordinances limiting their use for just that reason. However, some modern wooden shingles are treated to make them much more fire retardant.

In addition to the risk of fire, wood shake is vulnerable to moss, insects, and rot. These can all be controlled somewhat with modern treatments, but nonetheless shake roofs tend to have a relatively short life expectancy. While wood shake and wood shingles have a classic look, they can also be quite expensive.


Slate is another roofing material with a long history. For historic houses or houses looking for a traditional appearance, slate can be a beautiful and durable option. Because slate is made of stone, it is not subject to many common issues that other roofs face. It is not affected by rot or pests. A well maintained slate roof can last 100 years or more.

However, slate is not cheap. A slate roof can be much more expensive than asphalt or wood. Because it is stone, slate is also very heavy. Not every house is built to hold a slate roof. If you are installing slate roofing on a house that originally had another type of roof, you may need to make some structural improvements to support the weight, adding even more cost.

A slate roof is an investment. It is expensive to start with, but may outlast two or three roofs of another material.

Clay Tiles

Clay tiles have been in use for thousands of years. They come in a variety of shapes and colors. Barrel tiles, curved into the shape of  a half barrel, were used by both the ancient Greeks and Spanish missions. They can provide a mediterranean feel to any home. Their red color comes from the natural color of the terracotta material. Flat clay tiles create a traditional European look. Modern clay tiles comes in many shapes, sometime mimicking other materials. They can also be made in interlocking shapes, reducing the labor of installation.

Clay tiles are not cheap, but they are durable. They are susceptible to cracking, but many cracks can be repaired if they are caught before they grow too large. A well maintained clay tile roof can last for generations.

Metal Roofs

Metal has been used for roofs for thousands of years, though recent advances in materials technology have greatly expanded the options. Copper has been a popular roofing material since the ancient romans. Copper is still used today for its classic look. However, a copper roof is not cheap.

Newer metal roofing materials include coated steel, aluminum, and various alloys. While stainless steel is sometimes available, it is a much more expensive option. The most common material, coated steel, is very durable. It is made of steel that has been treated with special coatings to make it impervious to rust and other types of damage.

Metal roofing is not as cheap as asphalt roofing, but it is not the most expensive option either. Metal roofing is also quick and easy to install. Often it comes in large sheets that require less labor than individual shingles. Some homeowners may object to the sound of rain on a metal roof, but this can be mitigated with proper insulation.

Synthetic Materials

In the last few decades, a number of synthetic roofing materials have come onto the market. These materials have a variety of properties that increase durability and reduce the need for roof maintenance. They are manufactured to mimic the look of almost every other roofing material, from wood shake to terracotta tile.

If you are ready to install a new roof, talk to your roofer about synthetic materials. You may be surprised by some of the properties and cost savings of these recent additions to the roofing market.

Choosing the Right Roofer

Once you’ve chosen your material, you will need to choose a roofer to install it. While there are many options and choices for materials, the choice of roofers is simple. Eagle Watch Roofing is the premier roofer for the Atlanta area and all of north Georgia. We pride ourselves on customer service and always provide fair and competitive pricing. If your new roof will be part of an insurance claim, we will work with your insurance company from the first inspection to the final invoice. So if you are ready to work with the best roofers in Georgia, contact Eagle Watch Roofing today. We are happy to answer all of your questions and provide the professional service you deserve.