Best Roofing Materials for Long-Lasting Roofs (2021 Guide)

Given that your roof is an integral part of your home, the materials it’s made with play a vital role in determining your property’s overall appearance, structure and durability. Your choice of the roofing material can also affect your property’s resale value.

That’s why, if you’re planning to update your roof to increase its lifespan or enhance your home’s curb appeal, you should consider the materials you’re using.

Asphalt shingles, slate, concrete and clay tiles used to be the only options for residential roofing. Today, a wider range of advanced roofing materials is available to up your property’s style and longevity.

Want to update your home’s roof to make it more attractive and long-lasting? This comprehensive 2021 guide to the best roofing materials is all the research you’ll need.

Your 2021 Guide to the Best Home Roofing Materials

Are you planning to replace your roof? Here, we outline the best roofing materials to consider.

Asphalt Shingles


For sloped roofs, asphalt shingles are probably the most common residential roofing material. Their affordability and ease of installation have made them a popular choice among homeowners and roofing contractors alike. They dominate the market because they do wonders when it comes to protecting homes from adverse weather. And if maintained well, they can last for 20 years.

The quality of shingles varies widely, so make sure you choose the ones that suit your area’s climate. For example, if you experience hail storms, consider buying shingles with a UL 2218 Class 4 rating as they are impact resistant.

Asphalt shingles come in two types – fibreglass and organic. Fibreglass shingles are made of fibreglass mesh mats surfaced with an asphalt coating, followed by mineral granules. They are lightweight, resist tearing, and reflect some sunlight. Organic shingles are typically made of recycled paper saturated in asphalt and covered with granules. They are harder and heavier than their fibreglass counterparts, easier to install in cold weather, and are more stable in high winds.

Benefits: They are available in a wide range of colours and lower in price than other roofing materials.

Drawbacks: They have a shorter lifespan and provide less insulation than other roofing materials. Rapid temperature changes can cause asphalt shingles to crack.

Suitable for: They are ideal for homes with a traditional suburban style of architecture.

Wood Shingles


Wood shingles are the most stylish roofing material and help your house blend seamlessly with its natural environment. Typically made from Western red cedar, cypress or pine, these shingles can last between 30 and 50 years when properly maintained. They are often preferred over other types of shingles for luxury homes.

These thin, wedge-shaped slabs are made by precise sawing. If you want the thicker variety, choose shakes instead of shingles. Wood shingles allow you to experiment with your roof’s appearance as the unique patterns and tones in individual trees can create a wonderful range of colours in your roof.

The longevity of wood shingles depends on your province’s climatic conditions and how well you maintain them. For example, wood shingles last longer in dry climates than in areas that get a lot of moisture.

Benefits: They are incredibly attractive and enhance your home’s curb appeal. Premium quality cedar shingles are resistant to rot and termites.

Drawbacks: They weigh more than other types of shingles and have low fire resistance. They are not a good choice in wet climates.

Suitable for: They are a wonderful choice for rural homes or those with a rustic or cottage style.

Metal Roofing


Metal roofing is a great choice for places that experience heavy snowfall. Made of aluminum, copper, zinc or steel, these roofing materials are sleek, long-lasting, lightweight, and recyclable. The best part about this roofing material is that it can be manufactured into a variety of styles. These include traditional standing seam metal roofs and those made to look like shingles, shakes and tiles. They are fireproof, low maintenance, and keep out moisture. They have a lifespan of 30 to 50 years and can be installed on top of an existing roof.

Benefits: They are more durable and long lasting than wood or asphalt shingles, enhance the appearance of your roof, and reflect solar radiant heat.

Drawbacks: They are more expensive than other roofing materials, especially when the roof is made of copper. If installed over open framing, the roof can be noisier than other materials.

Suitable for: They are an excellent choice for wood-sided homes, cabins, cottages, and those with a simple, rustic design.

Single-Ply Membrane


Single-ply roof membranes are one of the most popular flat roofing materials. This synthetic material comes in many varieties, including:

  • PVC (polyvinyl chloride)
  • Polymer modified bitumen
  • Neoprene (polychloroprene)
  • Thermoplastic or flexible polyolefin (TPO/FPO) membrane
  • EPDM (ethylene propylene diene monomer)
  • Chlorinated polyethylene and chlorosulfonated polyethylene sheets


EPDM is the most commonly used variety as it is the least expensive and can be applied in sheets that limit the number of seams where water can infiltrate. These high-performance roofing materials are lightweight and flexible. If properly maintained, this kind of roof can last 20 to 35 years.

Benefits: They are easy to install, low maintenance, and highly reflective, thus increasing your home’s energy efficiency.

Drawbacks: Their thin layers can be easily punctured. And, although their seams are sealed, they are more vulnerable to leaks than other roofing materials.

Suitable for: They are suitable for fast-track construction projects. They complement homes with a contemporary design.

Built-Up Roofing (BUR)


Built-up roofing (BUR) is a common material used for flat roofing or roofs that are very low in pitch. It consists of layers of asphalt, tar, or adhesive topped with an aggregate. The construction involves multiple layers of roofing felt saturated with asphalt (applied hot). Overlapping layers of felt are created to form a barrier which is two to four layers thick. It is topped with a layer of finely crushed stone and hot tar.

Benefits: They are durable, low maintenance, easy to repair, and offer multi-layer protection with excellent insulation.

Drawbacks: They may become sticky in summer, and it is harder to shovel snow off of these roofs compared to other surfaces.

Suitable for: Ideal for modern architecture, they are used for low-slope residential and commercial roofing.

While proper installation, framing and preparation are always important, choosing the right roofing material is necessary to enhance your home’s longevity, durability, and visual appeal. The above-mentioned roofing materials are popular because they offer both form and function. To make the most of your updated roof, consider picking one for your re-roofing project.

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