Not All Roofing Materials are Created Equal - How to know the Difference

june 3rd, 2020 updated 9:00AM CT
Aerial view of residential home with a completed tile roof installation after the severe hail storm of June 2019 in San Antonio, TX.

When it comes to the roofing industry, there are lots of different options to choose from. Roofing comes in a variety of different designs and materials, and not all materials are equal. Today we’ll talk about some of the different roofing materials out there to help you learn the difference between them and decide which is the best option for your home.

Types of Roofing Materials:

1. Tile Shingles.

Tile Shingles are slate, fired clay, terra cotta, or tinted concrete. They can come in a variety of different shapes, including flat, curved, fluted, interlocking, and so on. This type of tiling is commonly found in warmer climates and gives homes a Spanish or Mediterranean feel.

Pros of Tile Shingles:

  • Tile shingles are beautiful.
  • Tile shingles are incredibly durable and can last up to 100 years.
  • Most are excellent at shedding rainfall and do well in climates that experience heavy rains.

Cons of Tile Shingles:

  • Tile Shingles are expensive.
  • They are heavy, so you need a very solid roofing frame to support the weight.
  • Tile Shingles can break in certain conditions.
  • Tile Shingles are difficult to install and require professional roofing companies for proper installation.

2. Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt roof shingles are the most popular type of shingle in the United States. Though you would probably think that asphalt shingles are entirely asphalt, this is not always the case. The composition differs from manufacturer to manufacturer, but usually consists of cementitious fillers and mineral fibers.

Pros of Asphalt Shingles:

  • Asphalt shingles are cost-effective.
  • They meet “cool roofing” classifications.
  • Asphalt shingles will last between 20-30 years.

Cons of Asphalt shingles:

  • Other shingle types last longer.
  • You may have to pay for a thicker shingle if you live in an area that receives a lot of extreme weather.

3. Wooden Shingles

As you would expect, wooden shingles are shingles made from wood. Wooden shingles are not to be confused with wooden shakes, which are split on one or both sides. Both can be made from cedar, pine, redwood, or cypress trees and are known for their beauty.

Pros of Wooden Shingles:

  • Wooden shingles are very popular for their natural appearance and curbside appeal.
  • Depending on the type of wood you select, wooden roofing San Antonio can last upward of 50 years.

Cons of Wooden Shingles:

  • Wooden shingles are more expensive than most other shingle types.
  • They are more difficult to install than other shingle types.
  • Wooden shingles need immediate replacement if damaged.
A McAllen Valley Roofing Co. certified Haag inspector climbing a roof ladder to perform an in-depth roof evaluation and assessment.

4. Slate Shingles

Slate shingles are metamorphic rock created from volcanic ash and clay. They are some of the oldest types of roofing materials known to man and have been around for centuries.

Pros of slate shingles:

  • Slate shingles are extremely durable, lasting 75 years plus
  • They resist water and hold up well in wind storms, hail storms, and other extreme weather.

Cons of slate shingles:

  • Slate shingles can be heavy, so you need a sturdy framing to install them.
  • Slate shingles can be difficult to install and repair, and should only be done so by a knowledgeable and skilled professional. 

5. Synthetic Rubber Slate Tiles

Synthetic rubber slate tiles are the modern version of regular slate tiles. They are a combination of plastic and rubber. They are designed to look like classic slate but are easier to install and cheaper.

Pros of Synthetic Rubber Slate Tiles:

  • Synthetic rubber slate tiles have a very natural appearance and look very similar to slate tiles.
  • They can be cut to fit a variety of roofing styles.
  • Synthetic rubber slate tiles are much lighter than regular slate tiles.

Cons of Synthetic Rubber Slate Tiles:

  • The cost of installing synthetic rubber slate tiles can be high.
  • Synthetic rubber slate tiles are easily damaged from hail and are not as durable as regular slate tiles.

6. Built-up Roofing

Sometimes referred to as BUR, Built-up Roofing is common on low sloped roofs. It is made up of asphalt, tar, or adhesive with an aggregate like stone or gravel.

Pros of built-up roofing:

  • Built-up roofing is tolerant of foot traffic.
  • It helps to protect against water buildup and offers strong UV protection.
  • Built-up roofing is fire resistant.
  • Built-up roofing is low maintenance.

Cons of built-up roofing:

  • Built-up roofing can be expensive to install.
  • To install Built-up roofing, you must have a flat roof.
  • In the summer months, Built-up roofing can become sticky.

7. Metal Roofing

Metal roofing is made up of, you guessed it, metal tiles. It can be copper, aluminum, zinc, steel, or tin. Metal roofing can be found on residential homes but is most common on commercial properties.

Pros of metal roofing:

  • Metal roofing is environmentally friendly.
  • It can provide you with energy savings.
  • Metal roofing is fire resistant.

Cons of metal roofing:

  • Metal roofing is expensive.
  • It is noisy.
  • Metal roofing isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing roofing material.

8. Green Roofing

Green roofing is roofing that is partially or fully covered in vegetation. They are planted over the top of a waterproofing membrane and are an eco-friendly roofing option.

Pros of Green Roofing:

  • Green roofs help to improve air quality.
  • They help to insulate your home and reduce energy bills.
  • Green roofs reduce water runoff.

Cons of Green Roofing:

  • Green roofing requires a great deal of maintenance.
  • They require more effort to install, including waterproofing, strong structural support, good drainage, and so on.
  • Green roofing can be expensive to install and maintain.

9. Solar Roofing

Solar roofing is roofing that replaces your traditional roofing to bring solar energy into your home. In other words, it generates electricity from sunlight. It’s common in very sunny climates and can save you a great deal of money on energy production in the home. Solar roofing is solar shingles, also referred to as photovoltaic shingles.

Pros of solar roofing:

  • Solar roofing can save on your energy bills in the home.
  • It is an eco-friendly roofing option.

Cons of solar roofing:

  • Solar roofing is expensive (but as it becomes more popular, prices are decreasing)
  • Solar roofing requires a specialized skill to install.

In addition to the pros and cons listed above, different roofing materials are better suited to certain roofing types. Some of the different roofing types include Saltbox roofs, Mansard roofs, Gambrel roofs, Pyramid roofs, Hip roofs, Flat roofs, Bonnet roofs, and so on. Depending on what type of roof you have, some of the roofing San Antonio materials may or may not be well-suited.

In conclusion, not all roofing materials are created equally. Some roofing San Antonio materials are more expensive than others, some are more durable, and some deal with extreme weather better than others. The best way to know which option is best for you? Speak to a knowledgeable roofing contractor about it. A good contractor will be able to explain your options and help you select the best roofing material for your home and your needs. 

Schedule a Roof Inspection with the Experts at

McAllen Valley Roofing Co.

Contact Information


5828 Sebastian Pl, Suite 102 San Antonio, TX 78249

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