What Are the Most Expensive Roofing Materials? Are They Worth the Cost?

What's a Typical Cost To Install a new Roof? Average Price: $5,960 - $12,740
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If you need a roof replacement or plan to build a new home, there is a wide selection of roofing materials to choose from. Roofing costs can vary widely: depending on your chosen material and contractor, the cost of a 2,000 square foot roof can range from less than $10,000 to more than $50,000.

Boral Saxony 900 Hartford Slate concrete tile – Toffee

Selecting a roofing material is often a tradeoff between upfront costs and durability, while considering aesthetics. Generally, the cheapest (i.e., budget) roof materials will require a replacement in less than 15-20 years timespan, while the more high-end and expensive roofing systems can last over 30-100 years. Keep in mind that there are exceptions: you should always make sure you are getting the quality you are paying for.

In this guide, we discuss the roofing materials with the highest prices, which also tend to be the most durable.

  • Clay tile roofs
  • Natural slate tile roofs
  • Concrete tile roofs
  • Standing seam metal roofs
  • Cedar shake and cedar shingle roofs

Clay, slate, and concrete are heavy materials that will normally require structural reinforcement of the roof frame. Metal roofs and cedar shakes have a lower weight, and structural changes are not normally needed. However, you should get a structural (frame), roof deck, and attic ventilation inspection before any roofing upgrade, especially if you also plan to install solar panels.

1. Clay Tile Roofs

MCA Tile Roof in California. Source: MCA-Tile.com

Typical cost for a 2,000 – 2,200 sq.ft. home = $25,000 – $49,500

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Clay tile roofs are very expensive, but also the most durable. Clay tiles have an average cost of $14.50 – $25.50 per square foot, but more premium tiles can reach prices of around $30.00 or more per sq.ft. installed, especially on more difficult or projects. In exchange for a high upfront cost, you get the most durable roofing material.

  • High-quality clay tiles can last over 100 years, which means you can forget about roof replacements.
  • Clay tiles also improve fire safety since they are very resistant to heat.

Clay tile roofs also improve energy efficiency. Clay tiles have a low heat conductivity, which means they improve the insulation level of your home. Thanks to their shape, clay tiles also create an air pocket that adds to their insulating effect. They reduce heat gain during summer and heat loss during winter, which results in lower HVAC costs all year long.

  • As you might guess from their name, clay tiles are manufactured by baking molded clay.
  • Their color is generally a tone of white, yellow, orange, or brown.
  • Clay tiles or lighter colors are the most energy efficient: they reflect a larger portion of the sunshine reaching your roof, which results in lower air conditioning costs.

If you’re considering a clay tile roof, you should get a structural assessment as the first step. Clay tiles are heavier than most other roofing materials, and you may need structural reinforcement. Clay tiles have a typical weight of 600 – 650 lb. per square, or 6.0 – 6.5 pounds per square foot (1 square = 100 sq.ft.).

You can install solar panels on a clay tile roof, but you should look for a solar installer who is experienced with this roofing material. Clay tiles are durable, but they can also be brittle. You can expect some of them to break while installing a photovoltaic system. You should also make sure your roof structure is suitable for the combined weight of clay tiles and solar panels!

If you’re looking for clay tiles, Ludowici and MCA Tile are widely regarded as two of the best brands. Ludowici is headquartered in Ohio, while MCA Tile is headquartered in California.

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2. Natural Slate Tile Roofs

Typical cost for a 2,000 – 2,200 sq.ft. home = $24,000 – $44,000

Natural slate tiles are comparable to clay tiles in terms of cost and durability. Their material cost normally ranges from $7.50 to $15.50 per sq.ft., and their installed cost is around $14.00 – $28.00 per sq.ft. In other words, you can expect to pay around $1,400 – $2,800 per roof square (100 square feet of roof surface).

Slate tiles can also last for more than 100 years, and they are characterized by their insulation properties and fire resistance. Slate is also a weatherproof material that can withstand harsh weather conditions for decades, making it ideal for locations with frequent rain or snow.

  • Natural slate tiles are available in colors such as black, gray, green, purple and red.
  • You can also find slate tiles with a mixture of colors.

As you might guess, slate roofs are very heavy. Each square of natural slate tiles can add between 800 and 1,500 lb. In other words, their weight ranges from 8 to 15 lb. per sq.ft. If you plan to use slate tiles, you must make sure your roof structure is designed to bear their weight.

Natural slate tiles have a long lifespan and minimal maintenance needs. However, they break easily if you step on them, as they can be brittle. If you plan to install solar panels, we strongly recommend looking for an installer who has experience with natural slate roofs. The tiles are normally made in “batches” with matching dimensions, and finding matching replacements can be difficult.

3. Concrete Tile Roofs

Eagle Roofing concrete tiles. Source: EagleRoofing.com

Typical cost for a 2,000 – 2,200 sq.ft. home = $22,000 – $40,500

Concrete tile roofs are a less expensive option compared with clay tiles, but they also tend to have a shorter lifespan. While clay tiles can last over 100 years, concrete tiles normally need a replacement in around 40-50 years. However, this is still a long lifespan when you consider that some roofing materials must be replaced in less than 20 years. You can also find premium concrete tiles with a lifetime warranty, but they come with a higher price tag.

The cost of concrete roofing can vary widely depending on material quality and local labor costs. Here are the price ranges you can expect to find:

  • Low: $9.50 – $11.50 per sq.ft.
  • Average: $11.50 – $14.50 per sq.ft.
  • High: $14.50 – $23.50 per sq.ft.

Considering the overall cost range of $9.50 – $23.50 per sq.ft., you can expect to pay between $19,000 and $47,000 for a 2,000 sq.ft. concrete roof. Considering only the average price of $16.50 per sq.ft., the estimated price falls closer to $33,000.

Similar to the natural slate, concrete is a heavy material. Each square of concrete roofing has a typical weight of 820 – 1,100 lb., and your roof structure must be properly designed for this load.

  • If you want to use concrete tiles, the best recommendation is removing the existing roof completely.
  • Installing concrete tiles on top of asphalt shingles is possible but not recommended, since their lifespan can decrease by up to 25%. This configuration also makes your roof extremely heavy.

Boral Roofing and Eagle Roofing Products are two leading providers of concrete roofing in the US. Their product selection includes concrete tiles with ENERGY STAR and Cool Roof Rating Council (CRRC) certifications, and lightweight options. Vande Hey Raleigh is a smaller provider, but their concrete tiles are also of high quality.

4. Standing Seam Metal Roof

A cool standing seam metal roof on a house and garage featuring hip style roofs.

Typical cost for a 2,000 – 2,200 sq.ft. home = $18,500 – $34,100

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Standing seam metal roofs can last more than 60 years, while being much more affordable than clay and slate tile roofs. Standing seam metal roofs have a typical cost range of $11.50 – $20.50 per sq.ft., or $1,150 – $2,050 per square.

Metal roofs are also characterized by their lightweight design, which means that structural reinforcement is not normally needed.

  • Metal roofing has a typical weight below 200 lb. per square (less than 2 lb. per sq.ft.)
  • For comparison, clay tile roofing weighs over 600 lb. per square, while concrete and natural slate roofing can exceed 800 lb. per square.

Standing seam metal roofs are also an excellent option if you plan to install a solar PV system. The racking system can be clamped directly to the roof seams, with no need to drill holes for penetrating mounts. You can also forget about having to remove your solar panels for an eventual roof replacement: the best solar panels have 25–40-year warranties, but a quality metal roof can last more than 35-70 years.

Keep in mind that a standing seam metal roof changes the appearance of your home.

  • Generally, the appearance of metal roofs is considered more “modern” and “industrial”, while tile roofs are considered more “traditional”.
  • Depending on your design preferences, the appearance of metal roofs can be an advantage or a disadvantage.
  • Stone-coated metal tiles are an option if you want to use metal roofing but prefer a more traditional appearance.

For maximum durability, you should look for a standing seam metal roof made of aluminum or Galvalume steel, with Kynar 500 or Hylar 5000 paint finish. ABC Supply, Beacon Supply and Harvey Industries offer a wide selection of metal roofing colors. This includes CRRC rated colors that reduce solar heat gain, lowering your air conditioning costs.

5. Cedar Shakes and Shingles

Western red cedar shakes roof

Typical cost for a 2,000 – 2,200 sq.ft. home = $19,000 – $40,700

Cedar shakes have a typical cost of $10.50 – $18.50 per sq.ft. ($1,050 – $1,850 per square), which is comparable to the cost of a standing seam metal roof. Cedar shingles are slightly less expensive, ranging from $9.50 to $15.50 per sq.ft. ($950 – $1,550 per square).

Cedar shakes and shingles are a popular option among homeowners who prefer a traditional wooden roof. However, this material has several limitations from a technical standpoint.

  • Lower lifespan than other high-priced roofing materials.
  • Vulnerable to fire.
  • Vulnerable to moisture.
  • Cedar is a high-maintenance material that requires regular cleaning.

Cedar roofs normally need a replacement in 25-30 years, which is much shorter than the lifespan of other roofing materials on this list. For comparison, clay and slate roofs can last more than 100 years, while concrete and metal roofs can last more than 40-60 years depending on their quality. Cedar roofing can last for up to 40 years with optimal site conditions and proper maintenance, but it cannot achieve the same lifespan as other premium roofing products.

You should also avoid cedar roofing if you plan to use solar panels, since you would be installing a power generation system on a flammable material. In fact, there are many jurisdictions that don’t allow solar panels on wooden roofs. There are also places where wooden roofs are banned completely, even if you don’t plan to use solar panels.

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What's a Typical Cost To Install a new Roof? Average Price: $5,960 - $12,740
See Costs Near You

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