How To Choose The Right Type Of Roofing Material For Your House

The world of shingles is vast, and there are nearly endless options to choose from. In fact, asphalt shingles make up more than 80% of the new roof and re-roofing projects in the U.S.

However, while they are popular, asphalt shingles may not be the right type of roofing material for your house. There are other options to consider too.

Let’s take a look at what makes asphalt shingles such a popular choice and some of the alternatives.


Asphalt shingles have been around for more than 100 years, which has helped to make them a popular choice for American households. Because asphalt is a fire retardant material, they made an excellent choice for roofing material at the turn of the century in the U.S.

A large part of their popularity today has to do with their durability and inexpensive price compared to other options. They also provide a reliable weatherproofing option and stand up well to extreme temperatures, which makes them an all-around good choice for roofing material across the entire country.

They can last as long as 30 to 40 years, but the typical lifespan is around 20 years or less — depending on the weather.

“You can lose a lot of quality very quickly with ‘bargain’ materials,” says Mike Senesac, an inside salesman for Big C Lumber. “We deal with a lot of professional contractors, and they demand the best products on the market. We don’t even mess with bargain shingles.”

Big C Lumber almost exclusively carries asphalt shingles for their quality, cost-effectiveness, and popularity.

The only real drawback to asphalt shingles is that, despite their durability, they are prone to damage from high winds and hail. Both types of weather can dislodge the shingles and cause problems for homeowners.

They come in two main varieties.

Three-Tab: This is the traditional style of asphalt shingle. Their name is derived from the fact that they are a single-layer tile with three asphalt tabs (shingles). They have a dynamic look as each shingle varies in color and tone. They are inexpensive and are more commonly found on older homes or economy-built homes.

Architectural: This type of asphalt shingle is significantly more substantial than its counterpart — it’s about 50% heavier than 3-tab shingles. They are also known as dimensional shingles. Architectural shingles are constructed with two or three layers of tile, which gives it more strength, durability, and curb appeal. In fact, architectural shingles can be installed to look like cedar shakes or even slate (without the weight).


Slate shingles have also been a popular choice for rooftops in the United States for more than 100 years.

They come in a variety of colors, and their natural appearance makes them a visually stunning choice for a roof. Slate is a durable roofing material — it’s impervious to insects and it resists rain, high winds, and fire — that requires little maintenance, and will last for a long time (in some cases, 100 years or more!).

Despite its durability, though, slate can be easily broken by being stepped on. It’s also only slightly resistant to hail — large, dense hail can crack or break slate shingles. It’s also expensive to install slate shingles, anywhere from $1,000 to $2,000 (or more!) per square installed (100 square feet).

Slate shingles are also incredibly heavy, weighing up to 1,000 lbs. per square (that’s up to 4x the weight of composite shingles). Many homes would need their roofing shored up to handle the extra weight, which leads to additional costs for installation.


Clay and concrete tile roofing is reasonably similar to slate.

It shares the same pros and cons of durability, water and fire resistance, expense, additional weight, and weakness to hail.

Clay and concrete tiles are also effective at heat loss/retention, which makes them ideal for hot, sunny climates. This type of roofing material is difficult to install and requires a professional to ensure the pattern lines up and that no moisture will get through the tiles. They come in a variety of colors and patterns, which makes them an aesthetic choice for roofing material.

While not as expensive as slate, clay and concrete tiles can cost 2 to 3 times as much as asphalt shingles. However, they can last for 50 years or more, which can reduce the long-term expense of the tiles.


Senesac suggests checking regularly to make sure your roof is in good shape. High winds, heavy rain, and ice can cause real problems to roofs in the Midwest. Senesac says to watch for leaks after inclement weather and to look for curling on your shingles.

While a new roof is a serious, long-term investment, Senesac says a lot has changed with the warranties offered for most roofing material.

“Up until about 6 or 7 years ago, all shingles were 30-year shingles, they were guaranteed to last that long,” Senesac says. “Since then, every manufacturer now only offers a limited-lifetime guarantee, which is related to the climate in your area.”

With our climate, Senesac says that it will be rare for a bundle of shingles to last for 30 years or more, but it’s not unheard of. It’s more common for them to last between 10 and 25 years.

“Take a look at the warranty offered on your shingles, and look at how long the manufacturer has been in business,” Senesac says. “Look to see if they’ve had any recalls on their materials, which would steer me away from that manufacturer.”

Senesac says one thing to take into consideration is integrating the products from a single company. He points to Owens Corning, which offers a better guarantee on its shingles if you use their underlayment, their felt paper, and their vents when installing a new roof.

“A company will stand behind their warranty regardless of if you use a competitor’s products for underlayment and other materials,” Senesac says. “Something like what Owens Corning does is just an extra layer that gives you peace of mind, knowing that you’ve got extra coverage.”

For DIYers and contractors alike, Senesac suggests taking advantage of every time and labor-saving service out there. For example, Big C Lumber offers spot placement of asphalt shingles on a roof with the company’s boom trucks.

“The average weight of a bundle of shingles is 80 lbs. Just imagine carrying that up a ladder,” Senesac says. “The boom trucks we have can put shingles just about anywhere on a roof.”

The last thing Senesac suggests to consider is if you’ll be doing the roofing project yourself or hiring a contractor. While you’ll pay extra for a contractor to re-roof your home, there’s a huge time savings to using a pro.

“Being able to save time on your installation is critical to helping cut down on your costs,” Senesac says. “Depending on the size of the roof, most contractors can get in and out in one day — you can get the existing roof torn off and replaced quickly.”


The experts at Big C Lumber are ready to help you get a new roof over your head.

We focus on providing high-quality asphalt shingles to DIYers and contractors. With our rooftop delivery, you can save yourself the time, aches, and pains of lugging shingles up the roof yourself.

Call your nearest Big C Lumber location today (store locator at to talk with our knowledgeable staff who can help you find the perfect roofing materials for your home.