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Roofing Materials Comparison Guide

If your home needs roof repairs or even a replacement, you should probably have a general idea of what materials are available so that you can have an informed discussion with your roofing contractors. Beyond considering the price and the aesthetics, there are some other factors that should influence your choice of roofing materials.

For instance, you should consider whether or not the material is suitable for the weather conditions in your area – extreme heat or cold can wreak havoc on inappropriate roofing materials. Roofing materials should also pass any fire and safety regulations, and you should consider their weight in case special framing will be required to prevent a dangerous collapse. They should have a proven track record, given that many synthetic materials have failed despite promised warranties, costing homeowners lots of money in repairs and lawsuits.

In sum, picking a tile for your roof should be a serious endeavour. The wrong choice could cost you a fortune, and eat up a significant amount of time in roof repairs. To help you make a more informed decision, here’s a quick comparison of different roofing materials popular in Canada, which include:

  • asphalt or composition shingles, laminated shingles
  • clay tiles
  • concrete tiles
  • metal roofing
  • slate
  • wood shingles and shakes
  • rubber composite or synthetic slate shingles
  • hot mopped asphalt roofing

Be sure to use this information only as a general guide to having an informed discussion with your roofing contractors. Different regions and companies may offer different options, and some may be more or less suitable to your home than others. Local regulations will also have to be considered.

Roofing Materials Comparison

Asphalt or Composition Shingles, Laminated Shingles

Composition shingles, also known as asphalt shingles are a very reasonable choice when it comes to picking a roofing material. They are the most popular choice amongst homeowners because they are low-cost ($70 – $120 per square), come in a variety of colours and styles, are lightweight and easy to install/maintain, and most brands meet fire codes.

That said, because they are light, they are susceptible to blowing off in windy conditions. You’ll have to research each brand carefully because the quality can also vary significantly. Its lifespan is also shorter than other sturdier materials (20 – 25 years), and is not necessarily the best choice when it comes to providing insulation.

Laminated shingles are similar, but they have greater resistance to wind and fire and can last from 40 to 50 years. With a fiberglass core instead of a cellulose one, they are thicker and heavier than their composition counterparts. They will cost you about $60 to $80 a square or more.


  • Asphalt roofing shingles are versatile and adaptable. Asphalt shingles are easy to cut, secure, and fit during the installation process. They are also an excellent match for most rooftop structures.
  • Easy upkeep and low maintenance are also significant advantages of asphalt shingles. Compared to other roofing materials, asphalt shingles don’t require much care. An asphalt roof can bear pressure and withstand dents and damages.
  • Asphalt shingles are lightweight, and this makes them easy to install without any structural support. You can complete the installation within one or two days.


  • Asphalt roofing shingles are not compatible with flat and low-pitched roofs. Asphalt shingles wear out faster on flat roofs than on steep-sloped roofs.
  • The shingles are sensitive to certain weather conditions. For instance, asphalt shingles might be damaged if you install them during cold temperatures. You may have to wait until the warmer months to install asphalt shingles, which might be inconvenient.
  • Even if asphalt shingles are affordable, they may not be as durable as other roofing materials like roofing tiles.

Clay Tiles

  1. Clay tiles are quite expensive compared to other roofing materials. Because they rather heavy, your home will require special framing to support them and must be installed by professional roofers. Average clay tiles will cost around $10 to $15 per square foot, however this price can go up to $20 to $30 per square foot. You’ll want to avoid these in colder areas, as they may crack if they freeze and thaw out too often… there’s a reason why these are so popular in areas like Southern France and Spain!

However, clay tiles have the advantage of being extremely durable in other conditions – they can last more than 100 years under the right conditions and are pretty much no-maintenance, as they don’t really absorb water. In fact, they are so durable that they are generally able to withstand strong winds and fire. Many European homes have clay tiles dating back to over a century ago. You can get them in white, yellow, orange and brown, with terra-cotta being the most famous of all, and they will maintain their vibrant colour more or less indefinitely. Their unique shape also provides great insulation.


  • Clay tiles are durable, and after installation, you may never have to worry about replacing your roofing materials again. The tiles could last for over 100 years. They can withstand extreme weather conditions like hailstones and high winds.
  • Clay tiles are energy efficient and environmentally friendly. They make an excellent green roofing option because they don’t contain chemicals and are easy to recycle.
  • They have energy efficient characteristics, including airflow, thermal mass, thermal emittance, and solar reflectance. They will keep your home warm during winter and cool in the summer.


  • The appealing clay roofing tiles come at a cost. Clay tiles are more expensive than other roofing materials (often twice or thrice the price of asphalt shingles).
  • Clay roofing tiles are heavy, and you should ensure that your home can withstand the tiles’ weight. Your home may require additional structural reinforcement to support the weight of clay roofing tiles.
  • During installation, clay roofing tiles must be measured correctly and laid in a specific pattern to ensure that moisture doesn’t penetrate. You have to work with a professional contractor while installing the clay tiles.

Concrete Tiles

Concrete tiles are an alternative to clay tiles, as they can take on a similar appearance at about a 30% lower cost. They can also mimic the look of wood shakes. Like clay tiles, they can weather strong winds and fire, as well as hail. They are also able to withstand cold, which means they can be used in colder climates as well as hotter ones. Furthermore, they are one of the more durable choices in roofing materials, as they can last about 30 to 50 years under the right conditions.

However, they are also tend to absorb water at a higher rate, which means they may stain and develop mildew. Concrete tiles also have a tendency to fade over time. They are also almost double the weight of clay tiles, which means the roof’s framing must be specifically built to handle the weight, although technology is improving this issue in more recent years. Like clay tiles, these will need to be installed by a professional roofer.


  • Concrete tiles are resistant to insect and rot damage. Unlike some roofing materials like wood, concrete tiles don’t decay.
  • Compared to other types of roofing materials, concrete tiles are long-lasting. Especially when installed in the right climate, the tiles can last for more than 100 years. They can withstand high wind, hail, and even fire.
  • Concrete tiles are made from earth materials, and this makes them environmentally friendly. The tiles can be recycled or pulverized when they are removed.


  • Concrete roofing tiles aren’t suitable for all types of roof slopes. They are only ideal for roofs with sharp slopes. It would be best if you did not use them on a roof with a pitch of less than 4:12.
  • Concrete tiles are brittle. Even if the tiles are long-lasting, they might break if they experience a significant impact like a falling tree. The tiles may also fail if you walk on them, leading to high repair costs.
  • Just like clay roofing tiles, concrete tiles can only be installed by a professional. Therefore, the installation of concrete tiles isn’t a DIY project.

Metal Roofing

Like clay tiles, the use of metal for roofs has a long history. While we may no longer use zinc and copper with as much fervour as we did a few centuries ago, today’s popular standing-seam steel roofing can be designed to mimic the look of Victorian metal tiles, shingles, clay tiles and wood shakes. They also offer the advantage of being light, durable, fire-safe and require little to no maintenance. Metal roofing materials are also a good choice for the environmentally-conscious homeowner; they are partially made of recycled materials, and because they can be installed over an existing roof, it reduces the amount of excess waste.

Though metal tiles will cost more than some roofing materials, you’ll get about 40 to 75 years out of metal shingles. Colour may fade out sooner. Lower quality materials may also have a tendency to dent. Metal tiles might also conduct more heat than you’d like, and they can be quite noisy.

Furthermore, metal roof repairs can be very difficult because leaks can be hard to find and fix. Another issue with leaks on metal roofs is that they appear to be intermittent, seemingly moving around the roof. Climate and weather largely determine the degree to which the metal roof will leak. At times, metal roof repair can be so difficult, some roofing contractors may recommend a full roof replacement instead of searching for individual leaks and fixing them as they appear.


  • A leading advantage of metal roofing is that it’s incredibly lightweight, especially compared to other roofing materials like tiles. If you have already installed other roofing, you can install the metal roofing right on top of the other roofing material.
  • Metal roofing comes in easy-to-install multiple shingle sections. A metal roofing could also save you energy in the long term because it reflects the sun’s heat and keeps your home warm during hot times of the day.
  • Metal roofing is stylish, and there’s a wide variety of metal roofing materials to choose from. The standard metal roofing materials include copper, aluminum, galvanized steel, zinc, and tin. The roofing comes in a wide variety of colours, shapes, and finishes.


  • Metal roofing is costly, and you will incur a high installation cost. However, in the end, you could save on maintenance or roofing replacement given the durability of metal roofing.
  • A metal roofing often bends easily, especially when it encounters an object with significant weight like a hailstone or a tree limb. Softer metals like copper and aluminum are more prone to bending than steel.
  • Metal roofing is also noisy, especially when rainwater taps on the roof. The sound of rain on a metal roofing might be calming and soothing for some people, but it’s noisy for others.


Slate shingles are typically found in historic or older homes. You can get them in different colours, and they are quite durable. Like concrete and clay tiles, they are also low maintenance and are pretty good against fire and rot. However, they too are on the costlier and heavier end of the spectrum and will require professional installation, in addition to extra framing to support the weight.


  • A slate roofing has high aesthetics; it’s beautiful and rustic. Given that slate roofing comes in a wide variety of colours and sizes, you will find the perfect slate roofing for your home.
  • A well-installed slate roofing could last for a century or even longer if you take good care of the roof. Slate is the best option if you want to replace your roof once and never have to think of it again.
  • Slate roofing is also environmentally friendly. It doesn’t involve the use of fossil fuels to construct like asphalt shingles. Slate is easy to mine and recycle. It lasts longer, helping you cut down on manufacturing and transportation emissions.


  • Slate roofing is among the most expensive roofing materials in the market. Installing a slate roofing may cost you two or three times the cost of installing asphalt shingle roofing. Even though the initial cost of installing a slate roofing is high, it compensates for this through its longevity.
  • Despite its durability, slate roofing is brittle and might break if someone walks on it, or a heavy object like a stone or tree limb falls on the roof. Unexpected breakage could lead to sudden repair costs.
  • Slate is hefty compared to other roofing materials like asphalt shingles. Therefore, your home might require reinforcement before you install a slate roofing. You also need a specialized installer for a slate roof, given its heavyweight.

Wood Shingles and Shakes

Wood shingles and shakes are an aesthetic option that are generally made from cedar, redwood and southern pine with a lifespan of around 25 to 30 years. They will cost you about $100 a square. However, you’ll have to consult local regulations before buying these, as they may be prohibited in your area given that they are flammable. You may have to specifically seek out fire-resistant products, even so. Furthermore, your roof must have at least a 4:12 slope to avoid becoming waterlogged, and they can still split and rot under persistently damp conditions. They must also be treated with preservatives and fungicides every two to five years.


  • Wood shingles and shakes have a unique beauty. If you want to raise the aesthetic standards of your home, you should consider installing wood roofing. Wooden shingles complement a wide variety of architectural styles and blend in with different siding materials.
  • For instance, the cost of wood shingles and shakes is significantly lower than what you would pay for clay or concrete tiles. Wood is also lightweight, and this makes it easier and less expensive to install.
  • Wood shingles and shakes are highly customizable. You can choose from a wide variety of different colours and species of wood. There are several grades of wood shingles, and you can choose the one that suits your home best.


  • Even if wood shingles could greatly enhance the appeal of your home, they require intense maintenance compared to other types of roofing.
  • Wood shingles and shakes are susceptible to mould and mildew growth. They are also prone to insect infestation.
  • Wood roofs often suffer ultraviolet sun damage. Therefore, wood shingles and shakes aren’t ideal for areas experiencing significant climate changes and high humidity levels throughout the year.

Rubber Composite or Synthetic Slates

Rubber composite slates, also known as synthetic slates, are made of plastic and rubber. Their texture and colour may be similar to slate, but they are much more lightweight and flexible. That said, they are still quite strong. They also don’t really require maintenance beyond inspecting for damaged shingles, and some brands may be fire-resistant.

However, it may be difficult to find these, given that there are not many suppliers. You’ll also want to be very careful in choosing a reputable brand with at least 10 years or more behind them. These products may absorb water and the quality can vary wildly, which means you really have to do your research to choose the right brand with a good history. Look to spend about $300 to $400 a square, with a warranty of around 50 years.


  • Synthetic slate roofing can save you money because it’s not nearly as expensive as an actual slate. You will save money while buying the roofing material and also on the installation costs. Unlike a real slate that is heavy and expensive to install, rubber composite roofing is cheap to install.
  • Unlike actual slate mined from the ground, composite roofing materials are mainly made from recycled materials, making them environmentally friendly.
  • Synthetic slate shingles are designed to withstand storm damage. Many of them come with a class 4 impact rating, which is the highest rating level for roofing materials. They also have a Class-A fire rating, meaning they are less flammable and not likely to cause a fire.


  • Even if synthetic slate shingles are easy to install than real slate, they could still be hard to install. If not well established, the synthetic shingles might crack.
  • While some rubber composite roofs look great and resemble natural material, others might appear cheap and fake.
  • Since synthetic slate roofing has not been in the market for long, there are some questions regarding the roofing material’s longevity.

Hot Mop Roofing

Hot mop roofing isn’t really a popular option amongst homeowners as it is not very pleasing to the eye, and you’ll mostly find this style in commercial settings. They require flat roofs with excellent drainage and easy access to be properly applied and maintained. Done with asphalt, hot mopping is a cheaper technique and can be fairly durable if done right. That said, you’ll have to check your local regulations and roofing contractors to see if this option is even offered and/or allowed; it can be very dangerous to the roofers, and during application, it lets off smelly fumes that contribute to urban smog.


  • Hot mopped asphalt roofing is a proven roofing method that has been around for many years.
  • It is a long-lasting roofing option that will not require you to replace the roofing material for a significant period.
  • The roofing often comes with an above-average warranty.


  • The roofing may take an extended period to install.
  • A lot of equipment is required during the hot mopped asphalt roofing installation process.
  • The hot-mopped asphalt roofing installation process is labour-intensive.

If you have any questions about roofing materials please don’t hesitate to call us at (905) 387-3000 or contact us using the contact form on our website. We’d love to hear from you!